We all overthink sometimes. It’s a natural human tendency, even when we don’t want it to be. Sometimes, overthinking is unavoidable. Our constantly buzzing thoughts can make it difficult to focus on the here and now, let alone the future. But when overthinking starts to take over our lives and our thoughts become a tangled web of anxiety, we need to take action to stop it.
What is Overthinking?
Overthinking is all about thinking too much about something, too often or for too long. It is when you ruminate on the same thoughts that make you feel trapped. Overthinking happens when your thoughts get in the way of what is important to you. This often leads to pondering on the problems instead of taking action. Eventually, overthinking leads to stress and waste of time, hindering our ability to make rational decisions.
When you overthink, you think too hard about something and end up in a negative spiral of stress, anxiety, and paranoia. Luckily, you can train yourself to avoid the negative spiral by learning to spot the early warning signs and taking a break from the problem before it gets out of hand. Here are six easy ways to stop overthinking every little thing.
1. Change What You Tell Yourself
Are you the type who always says out loud, "Oh, I am such a mess, I cannot be on time" or “I can never get up in the morning”?
Guess what! You will always be late for everything in your life and come across as someone who is perpetually tired and groggy. Why? Simply because you become what you tell yourself. You are what you repeat to yourself and what you describe yourself as. Every experience and every action you take is a result of your identity and the beliefs that underlie it. So, if you are constantly telling yourself, “I'm an over-thinker", "I have too many thoughts", "I worry too much because I'm so busy thinking" or "I don't make good decisions and I get lost in my thoughts", you are doing more harm than good.
Stop belittling yourself and change what you tell yourself. Recognize your limiting beliefs and stop yourself from expressing them. Replace those negative thoughts with positive, empowering thoughts and constantly tell yourself: "I am in control of my emotions" and "I think clearly". By changing your perception of yourself, you stop being the overthinker that you think you are.
2. Let Go of the Past
Overthinkers tend to ponder over the past. They ruminate over decisions and actions, focusing their energy on the "what if" and the "I wish", often failing to realize that it is taking them away from living in the moment. They often over-analyze the smallest details or possibilities and the motives of others, often finding themselves unable to move forward until they understand the other person’s perspective. They often become so lost in their own thoughts that they forget to eat, go to the bathroom, or engage with the world around them.
It is important to let go of the past because this never-ending cycle of overthinking can be exhausting! Next time you move into overthinking mode, simply tell yourself to make use of the lessons learned from the past to discover yourself and learn from your experiences.
3. Write Down Your Thoughts
The moment you begin to overthink, write down your thoughts in a journal. Writing down your thoughts is better than overthinking because the former lets you become more aware of what is going on in your head. You understand your thoughts and begin to realize why those thoughts were up there messing with your brain cells.
It’s not easy to write when you are overthinking in fifth gear. It takes practice. Daily rituals such as journaling, meditating, and writing helps you keep control of your mind. This allows you to live in the moment. It also helps reduce stress, improve focus, and become more aware. This, in turn, reduces overthinking to a great extent.
4. Leave What’s Not in Your Control
When something is gnawing your brain out, take a step back and ask yourself: "Am I able to change or control what’s happening?"
If you failed to nod in the affirmative, quit overthinking and leave it to the powers that be. This will help you shift your focus from what you cannot control to what you can. When we recognize something for what it is, we stop wasting time and energy worrying about it and instead have the freedom to focus on the things we CAN control. This not only relieves anxiety but also helps us take action and make progress at the moment.
When you find yourself in a situation you cannot control or change, the best thing to do is recognize it and quit overthinking about it. If a person does something wrong, for example, it’s usually best not to spend your time and energy obsessing about it. Instead, recognize that the situation is out of your control, and quit trying to change or control it.
5. Be a Person of Action
Overthinking is a mental habit where you constantly replay a situation in your mind, pondering over and analyzing every detail. This can lead to you getting lost in your own thoughts, which then leaves you feeling indecisive. You’ve heard it a million times before: “Just relax, and get back to the present.” But when you’re in the middle of a tough problem, it’s hard to shut off your overthinking brain and just get back to the problem at hand.
Even though it feels like your train of thought has been derailed, being able to identify when your thinking is getting in the way is the first step to overcoming it. Because once you realize that your overthinking is causing you to hesitate and lose momentum, you can learn how to recognize it, cut it off, and get back on the right path.
6. Spend Time with Nature
The human mind is a complex machine, and it’s not clear whether being exposed to the natural environment has any direct impact on the way it works. But a growing number of studies suggest that spending time in quiet areas close to nature may have significant benefits on the way the mind works. For example, a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that people who spent time in quiet areas close to nature had a calmer thought pattern than people who spent time in urban areas. This might make people more open to new experiences and ideas.
The study, carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, divided participants into two groups: one was taken on a nature walk, while the other was taken on a walk through a building. Those who had been on the nature walk showed greater activity in a part of the brain associated with being focused and being able to concentrate. The study also found that the participants who had been on the nature walk had a greater sense of well-being than those who had been on the building walk. For example, research has shown that trees can cause people to have a more positive thought pattern, which can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety.
So, all you need is a stroll in the park to get rid of all that anxiety that triggers you to overthink. Hope these six easy ways will be helpful for you to stop overthinking every little thing.
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