7 Eye-Opening Thought Exercises For Better Mental Health

Thought exercises for better mental health are one of the key practices in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT). ACT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on your goals, values, and purpose in life. The foundation of these exercises is psychological flexibility. It is the ability to keep going despite obstacles, adjust to adverse situations, and be mindful.

Thought exercises for better mental health in ACT help you accept and understand the story of thoughts running in your head.  These exercises can bring inner peace, aid mindfulness, and positively impact your mental health. Without further ado, here are the seven best-thought exercises.

7 Proven Thought Exercises For Better Mental Health

1. Accept your thoughts and emotions

Have you ever emphasized or overreacted to negative thoughts or emotions in your mind? If you have, you’re familiar with the effects this has on your psyche. You feel a sense of dread and continue overthinking these negative feelings. Eventually, this cycle leads you to waste a lot of time and energy. Accepting your thoughts as they are can save you from this situation.

2. Don’t avoid your emotions

Another defense mechanism we use to deal with unpleasant emotions is avoidance or suppression. You may bury these emotions in the back of your mind or pretend that they don’t exist. Suppressed emotions can harm you in the long run and shut the doors to greater self-esteem, self-acceptance, and authenticity. Sitting with your feelings, especially the painful ones can help you emerge as a self-aware person.

3. Look at your feelings objectively

Self-validation is used in dialectical behavior therapy(DBT) and ACT. This mindfulness-inspired practice motivates us to look at our feelings objectively. Validating yourself means acknowledging your feelings, understanding you are justified to feel this way and looking at your emotions without judgment.

4. Live in the present

All of your unpleasant feelings often result from past regrets or future anxieties.  An uncontrolled mind with racing thoughts can lead you to suffer an absence of mindfulness. You can learn to regulate your thoughts and experience life more deeply by living in the present moment.

Read more: How to stay in the present moment?

5. Observe yourself

Observe your thoughts and feelings as fleeting cognitions. This process can help you detach from them and advise or be compassionate toward yourself as a friend would.

6. Define your values 

Values define your actions and feelings. They give you a sense of personal integrity and meaning. Identifying your values can help you decide what is beneficial and harmful for you.

7. Plan meaningful action

After identifying your values, you can plan meaningful action. The first step toward action is goal-setting. You can set up long-term goals and perhaps a life vision. Goals like these can help you commit yourself and find a sense of meaning and happiness in your work.

Read more: Questions to know yourself better


Thought exercises for better mental health are a tool from ACT that can help you take a step toward better mental health. The most effective thought exercises involve accepting and observing your emotions, living in the present, identifying your values, and leading a meaningful life. While these exercises can help you, you might need a push to get started or keep practicing them. On that note, here are some of the best podcasts to get you motivated.

For more exercises that improve your mental health, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.

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