10 Effective Ways To Stop Overthinking Everything
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Overthinking can be painful. It produces an imaginary play in your mind that repeats the actions you took and the things you said and felt while combing them with fears of the future.
By overthinking, you essentially strip yourself of the freedom to enjoy the present. Doing so can also cost you a lot. That’s because our minds are still very much a mystery to modern science, so many speculate that our thoughts can affect our realities. In short, overthinking can make a situation feel much scarier than it actually is. After all, we tend to obsess over the negative side of things more often than not.
If we define our reality by our thoughts about it, then does that mean our current inner monologue is influencing the outcome of our lives? Some say yes. It’s interesting, nonetheless, and worthy of a deeper look. Understanding why we overthink and how to stop it is the key, so listen up.
"Overthinking, also, best known as creating problems that are never there"
- David Sikhosana
Why Do We Overthink?
Overthinking is the act of thinking too much about something that’s either unimportant, unpredictable, or undesirable. Some people repeatedly rehash information before deciding; others get stuck in their head by analyzing everything.
Most overthinkers remain frozen in their hectic mind instead of acting on impulse, which is just as unbalanced. Here’s the kicker: Overthinking is dangerous because it evokes feelings of worry and produces unhealthy obsessive habits. And while many see overthinking as just an optional behavior, it can get out of control and bring on countless health concerns.
For example, the more you listen to your negative thoughts, the more you start to believe them. That, in turn, can be extremely dangerous to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Having a clear mind allows you to feel happier, be more productive, and stay more relaxed. For some, all that feels impossible to achieve because of a racing mind.
10 signs that you’re an overthinker
• You frequently have trouble sleeping.
• You’re constantly overanalyzing every minute detail.
• You can’t make a confident decision without second-guessing yourself.
• You’ll pour over every possible outcome before an event.
• You often feel run-down and fatigued.
• It’s virtually impossible for you to live in the moment without anxiety.
• You find it hard to stay focused because of countless thoughts.
• Your mood dips pretty low sometimes.
• It’s difficult for you to connect with other people.
• You’re usually consumed by underlying fears.
It's common for someone to feel vulnerable about what lies ahead. Coming up with different outcomes is also normal. But when we attach fear to something we can’t get out of our heads, then we can get stuck in that damaging state of mind.
Overthinking is destructive, not to mention mentally exhausting. It can put your health at risk because it makes you more receptive to bouts of depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this vicious cycle in its tracks. Here’s what you need to know.
"The more you overthink the less you will understand."
10 Ways to release yourself from the dangers of overthinking
It’s not always easy to stop overthinking, even if you command yourself to do so. Unfortunately, it usually takes more than just will power alone. So, here are 10 positive (and effective) ways to clear your mind and ease your stress:
1. Take a step back and breathe
Mindful breathing is one of the best ways to help calm a racing brain. It’s no surprise that things like meditation can make a significant difference in a person’s wellbeing. That's because meditation is mainly based on breathing exercises that are known to relieve anxiety.
The next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of thoughts, just find a quiet space and practice some breathing exercises. This will also teach you how to take control of your inner monologue once and for all. By simply breathing in and out, you’ll start to feel less worried and stressed about the tiny details of your existence.
2. Try to see things from a different perspective
Most overthinkers focus mainly on the negative side of a situation. That’s because people tend to obsess when they’re afraid or feeling vulnerable. The reality is that it's easier to fall into negative thinking than positive affirmation. However, there is always a better way to solve problems.
It's crucial to find the bright side of any thought no matter the reason(s) why you have it. Finding a positive attribute can turn things around and stop you from digging too deep into a specific scenario. Before you know it, that thought is history and you’re feeling more motivated to live in the moment.
3. Tell yourself to stop
Nobody said this exercise was easy, but you should still try. Telling yourself to stop repetitive and harmful thinking can prevent you from getting overwhelmed. So, even if you catch yourself overthinking by accident, learn how to shut it down immediately for your own sake.
You need to push yourself out of the situation and then occupy that mind space with something more positive and productive. For example, try to replace the racing thoughts with a task that requires focus, such as cooking, art, conversation, or sports.
4. Question the value of each thought
Experiencing a troubling thought can take a significant toll on your mind, body, and spirit. It can also leave you feeling numb and paralyzed on the inside. But this isn't the time to stay still and let your guard down. You’ve got to question the value of each thought you have. Ask yourself, “How did this thought arise and how does it serve me?”
If it comes from a bad place or if it harms your wellbeing in any way, throw it out. Then, ask more questions, like “Why am I so scared?”, “How can I change this?”, and “Will overthinking help the situation in any way?” Chances are, it won’t. So, don’t be afraid to face your own mind and challenge your own thoughts. You’re the one in control, after all.
5. Give yourself some credit
Overthinking often means concentrating on all the negative things about yourself. But how, then, can you see all the positives? You can’t give yourself enough credit if you’re focus on your shortcomings all the time. So, let the positivity in by boasting a little bit. You’ve made it this far, so you can’t be that bad.
Try to remember who you are at your core. Meditate on all the things you’re capable of doing and then focus on ways to make yourself ready to do those things. If you get lost in thought, bring your mind back to a more productive place. Remembering your worth instead of obsessing about your flaws can help reduce fear and stop negative thinking in its tracks.
6. Pay attention to how you’re dealing with it
The way you deal with your overthinking habit can define how those thoughts affect you. For instance, if you’re experiencing negative thoughts, that influences your mood. If you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to fall into a rut. Don’t let yourself be controlled by nagging thoughts or you’ll dive too deeply into a spiral of emotional distress.
You must take back control by trying to understand what triggers your overthinking. Is it because of unanswered questions? Are you worried about the loose ends? Do you fear embarrassment or ridicule? By paying attention to the way you deal with the problem you can uncover its roots much faster, then you can nip it in the bud.
7. Force yourself to live in the present
Overthinking is most often triggered by past or future events. Dwelling on the past usually involves feelings of regret, guilt, and/or embarrassment. So, most people end up feeling crummy after overthinking for too long. That’s because obsessing about things you can’t change makes you feel more powerless and vulnerable than you already do.
Meanwhile, you must remember that most of what you imagine for the future will never occur. Plus, how many times have you overthought about a situation only to learn later that you were very wrong with your assumptions? By overthinking about every little detail, you’re putting yourself at a greater risk of emotional turmoil and mental anguish. You’re letting the “what ifs” define you as they drag you into a dark place.
The present is where you need to be and stay. It’s the only time that you actually have control over, meaning it’s the part of the equation that can solve some of your problems. The “Here and Now” is the once place for overthinkers because it stops negative ideation and opens them up to more positive assumptions. So, don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow. Force yourself to live, laugh, and love in the present.
8. Practice some problem-solving techniques
Have you ever noticed how the racing thoughts in your head always center on what could go wrong? They’re seldom about how easy the situation is or how talented you may be. Instead, they’re a broken record of demoralizing thoughts that take you right out of the driver’s seat.
When you overthink and thereby focus on the negative, you basically block your brain from thinking logically and critically. It then becomes much harder to conceptualize the positive, helpful solutions right in front of your face. By frequently overwhelming your mind with thoughts of possible disaster, you stop looking for an answer and start focusing on the problem only. Instead, think of positive ways around the issue.
9. Take an affirmative action (or two)
Overthinking is only thoughts, no action. The best thing that most overthinkers achieve by allowing their thoughts to race is generating more worry, stress, and pain. Our thoughts ultimately become our reality, but that’s only true if you act on them. So, don’t. Take positive, affirmative steps instead.
When you let your thoughts rule your mind, you get stuck in an unproductive mental state and will most likely refuse to make moves in the right direction. As a result, nothing will change or get better. So, the choice is yours: allow overthinking to control your behaviors or break the cycle with affirmative actions. Things may not even be as bad as your mind is making them. Besides, you can always change your life if you’re willing to fight for it.
10. Ask for help if/when you need it
Everyone is unique. That means we all deal with stressful situations differently. Some problems are easy to fix, while others require the help of friends, family, or the community. At times, you can’t solve your own issues without outside assistance and that’s okay. Overthinking about it won’t change a thing either.
Keep available help in the back of your racing mind because it could help in more ways than one. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to friends, family, or licensed professionals. You don't have to conquer this beast alone. So, don't be scared or ashamed to ask for help because it’s never too late and there are probably more resources than you realize.
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein
Even though overthinking is not considered an official mental illness, it can increase someone's risk of falling into deep states of depression or anxiety. If left unmanaged, the habit can become extremely dangerous and difficult to stop.
It's essential to think positively, act rationally, and practice will power to overcome this burden. Overthinking is usually the way for your mind tries to make sense of something it cannot understand. So, keeping your thoughts and emotions bottled up inside won’t help, nor will rehashing the situation repeatedly in your mind.
So, stop overthinking and start living for today. Clear your mind with healthy exercises and implement supportive lifestyle changes to help you stay focused on today. Remember, you don’t have to do this all by yourself because there are community resources available around the clock. You can contact a mental health professional if you need more support.