Thinking about something endlessly can be exhausting. When you overthink, you stress out your brain and put extra load on body and mind. As a result, you are stressed and anxious. Maybe you spend too much time analysing and tend to think negative. This further result into the judgments getting cloudy. Overall it may become difficult to lead a normal life. Naturally one would ask – “How to stop overthinking”.
Having convinced ourselves that overthinking serves no purpose and it rather a weakness, we’ll proceed further.
How To Stop Overthinking
Chronic worrying is not embedded in us. It is simply a mental habit that can be replaced with a better habit. It is pattern which needs to be broken. The individual’s brain can be trained to look at life from a different perspective.
If you think you are an overthinker, here are 10 simple ideas which can be helpful to you to free yourself from overthinking.
#1 Be Aware of your habit of overthinking
Accepting that there is this habit which needs correction is the first step towards improvement.
In case you are not sure yet if you are an overthinker, we have already uploaded an article to check if you are an overthinker. Please do check it out.
As soon as you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed or anxious when called upon to take a decision, step back and look at the situation and see how you’re responding.
This is the right beginning of the change you want to make.
#2 Focus on positive outcome rather than negative
Nobody can predict the future outcome of any action taken today. Therefore, take wise, calculated and informed decisions but don’t overthink what can go wrong, rather focus on what can go right.
Related reading: Don’t worry, be happy
#3 Conquer your fears
In many cases, over thinking is largely caused by a single emotion: fear. When you are prejudiced or operate out of fear, you become a negative thinker. You tend to focus on all the likely negative outcomes. Fear can freeze your mind and you are unable to take action.
Next time you sense that you are starting to move in that direction, stop. Think of all the things that can go right and keep on visualizing those thoughts.
If you are seriously looking for an answer to how to stop overthinking, work on your fears.
#4 Talk to yourself out of it
When you notice that you are stuck in your head, grab your pattern and develop a little psychological distance by generating more positive ideas. This is called cognitive restructuring. This way you can control your overthinking habit by making your negative thoughts less believable.
For example, if you keep thinking “I’m in a bad job” ask yourself – “what’s the probability of my loss of job?” If the probability is low the fear in your mind will lose strength.
Next tell yourself, “I want a better and more satisfying job.”
Then make a plan to acquire new skills, expand your network, and look for better job opportunities.
#5 Let Go Of The Past
According to Tonny Robbins, most of the overthinkers focus on their past, burning up energy on “what ifs” and “should haves.” If you want to know how to stop overthinking, you should realize past is gone. You can’t go back in time and change it.
What you can and should change is the meaning you give to it.
It also means you don’t let your past mistakes control your future decisions. Also you don’t let bad things done in the past to control your emotions. You have to forgive others and let go of your anger.
It’s one of the most important ways you can change your state of affairs.
#6 Live In The Moment
Living in the moment is the most practical key to learning how to stop overthinking. Yet is difficult for most people to flip a switch and live in the moment.
Take control of your mind and stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Recognize the start of overthinking before it spirals out of control and take a minute to reset.
Take a few deep breaths and focus on the moment.
Initially, it will take conscious awareness. But pretty soon you’ll find it comes naturally.
Unplug Another thing you could try would to Unplug. Just switch off your computer or mobile for a designated amount of time each day, and spend that time on a single activity.
Other living in the moment exercises can be:
Eat mindfully. Treat yourself to one of your favorite meals. Try to enjoy the taste and feel the joy in each bite. Notice how the food tastes, smells, and feels in your mouth.
Get for a walk outside. Even if it’s just a quick brisk walk around the block, do it. Take stock of what you see along the way, noting any smells that waft by or winds caressing your cheeks.
#7 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Probably you have heard this expression before also. If you are a habitual over-thinker, you should really take it seriously.
There are things in life you can control and there are things over which you have no control at all. Know the things you can’t control and accept them for what they are. For example, the delay of your flight because of bad weather is not in your control.
Extending the same logic, don’t use all your energy to control each and everything that falls in controllable category. Accept that the small stuff is not worth your time and energy. So let go of a few things.
Of course, it’ll take some time and a little practice but the benefits shall be much more rewarding than the cost of letting go.
Related reading: Letting Go
That way you will think big and always focus on bigger, more important things. You will worry less, you will stop fretting over small stuff.
This specific point is not only a key suggestion about ‘how to stop overthinking’ but it is a solution to many other mental problems sometimes a person creates for himself.
#8 Stop waiting for the perfect
This is a big one. For all of us who are waiting for perfect thing or perfect situation, we must stop waiting right now. Being ambitious is great but aiming for the perfect is unrealistic, impractical, and debilitating.
The moment you start thinking “This needs to be perfect” is the moment you need to remind yourself, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”
#9 Take yourself into happiness zone
It certainly helps to get into some engaging activities like Meditation, Yoga, Exercising, Music, Dancing or spending time in nature. The idea is to involve yourself into some activities which make you happy and positive.
During the time spent there, you can distance yourself from the compulsive habit of overthinking and shut down the over analysis.
#10 Don’t try to be a perfectionist
It is a very big price to find perfection in everything all the time. For example, every year the car manufacturing companies launch new products which are better than previous year’s car. The new cars are better in terms of technology, comfort, looks etc. But do they wait for the perfect car? No. They keep researching and doing improvements and so should you.
#11 Accept yourself as you are
There is often a feeling in the minds of overthinkers that you are not good enough or there is not enough data to take a decision. This needs to be checked or rather reversed. Once you have done your best, accept it as such and take action. Realize that, while success or failure may also be outcome of some things you can’t control and you’ve done what you could do.
#12 Put a timer to activities at work
Set yourself a time limit on regular or routine activities. Similarly give yourself 5 minutes or 10 minutes of time to think, research and analyze or perhaps worry also for a new but regular issue.
Once the timer goes off, grab a pen and paper and quickly write down all the negative things that are bothering you, stressing you, or giving you anxiety. Find the opposite possibilities which are positive or think of the possible solutions. Read it thoroughly. When the 10 minutes time is up, throw the paper into waste paper basket and move on.
#13 Slow down
You need this especially if you are in high stress, performance oriented job. Such persons are in the fast lane career. You have to slow down once in a while – whatever you are doing right now.
Move slower, talk slower or walk more slowly, for example. Try it now!
By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.
This simple reminder helps the mind to stop racing unnecessarily and bring the focus back to what is happening in this moment.
#14 Be Grateful
Attitude of gratitude can have a magical effect. It is not possible to have negative emotions like worry, fear along with a positive feeling of being grateful at the same time.
So why not replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts and feelings?
Make a list of things you are grateful for in your life and thank Higher Powers and people who helped you with that. Do this every morning and every night. You can also write a gratitude journal.
#15 Get professional help
You don’t have to do it alone. Seeking right professional help, for example from a qualified therapist can help you develop new tools for working through your thought patterns and even changing your mindset.
Video:How To Stop Overthinking
To Sum Up
Overthinking is something so natural that it can happen to anyone. But if you have an effective system in place for dealing with it, you can at least ward off some of the negative feelings, anxiety, stressful and turn it into something useful, productive, and effective.
Video:15 Signs You Are An Over Thinker
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