Overthinking can be exhausting and it can take a toll on your well-being. Learn these effective tips to tame your brain from going into the overdrive.
Thoughts are really powerful. Your thoughts become your reality. Suppose when you finally have a few peaceful moments to yourself away from the daily life chaos but suddenly your brain starts wondering if you forgot to congratulate your friend or whether you will be getting the promotion. Worrying and overthinking is part of the human experience and it happens to each one of us. This repetitive thinking and dwelling on the same thoughts if lets unchecked, puts you at an increased risk of developing mental health problems. It also clouds your judgment to make better decisions in your life and elevates your stress levels.
WHAT IS OVERTHINKING?
Overthinking is, “to think about something too much or for too long.” While deliberation is an admirable quality, it’s human nature to think things through when making a tough decision or evaluating a complex situation, it becomes overthinking when you can’t get out of your own head and put brakes on these thoughts.
It often involves two destructive thought patterns—ruminating and incessant worrying. Ruminating usually involves dwelling on the past. People get stuck in thinking up about “should haves” and “could haves.” Thoughts such as
- I shouldn’t have said those things yesterday. Everyone must think I’m an idiot.
- I should have taken the opportunity I was given last time. I would be happier than I am now.
Persistent worrying involves negative—often catastrophic—predictions about the future. These thoughts may include things like:
- I’m going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I will become blank and forget things I’m supposed to say.
- I am not smart enough to succeed in life. I’ll run out of money.
WHY ARE YOU OVERTHINKING?
Many people often ask this question “Why do I overthink?” and they hardly ever come up with an answer. It happens to all of us at some point in our lives, we all experience events that cause us to worry or stress. Some people fret over what others might think of them and let negative self-talk run thoughts in the circle. All these worries are just emotions and they can be controlled. This problem can be addressed by changing your mindset and thoughts if these are not caused by deeper emotional issue.
HOW TO STOP OVERTHINKING?
If you are a chronic over-thinker then these tips can help you move in the right direction and tame your repetitive thinking.
Start By Noticing When You’re Stuck in Your Head
Overthinking can easily become such a habit and you might even not be aware when you’re doing it. So first, you need to start paying attention to the way you think so you can become aware of the problem and tackle it. Learn that replaying past events in your mind over and over again or fantasizing about things that are not even going to happen, is not productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.
The next time you find yourself continuously running things over in your mind, take note of how it affects your mood. Find the primary emotion behind your thoughts. Having self-awareness and insight into your problems is key to changing your mindset.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest barrier in taking swift, efficient decision-making because it operates on faulty all-or-nothing thinking. When you chase perfection, it leads you to believe that if you don’t make the “correct” choice (as if there is only one right option), then you are a failure. It also makes you think you must know everything, anticipate every scenario, and have a thorough plan in place before making a move.
To curb this tendency and break this negative thought pattern, ask yourself questions like:
- Which decision will have the biggest positive impact on my urgent top priorities?
- What is one thing I could do today that would bring me best closer to my goal?
- Based on what I know and the information I have at this moment, what’s the best next step?
Hey, it’s much easier to wrap your head around and take action towards a single next step/goal rather than trying to project years into the future.
Let Go of The Past
Overthinkers often focus on the past (ruminating). They exert their energy on “what ifs”, “I wish”, and “I should have”. However, this is leading to their absence from the present moment. Know that no matter what you think, the past cannot be changed but you can change the lessons and important meanings you extract from it.
The only thing you can do right now is to accept the past for what it was and free yourself from its burden. Forgive others and let go of your anger, free your mind from the weight of past mistakes or grudges that are stopping you from taking action in the present.
Learning to let go of the past is something we must constantly work on because it’s so easy to slip back into the habit of rumination. This is essential as it clears up the mental space that was occupied by overthinking it.
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Keep the Focus on Problem-Solving
Dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful at all but looking for solutions is. Some decisions are worth mulling over, while others are not. Before you make a call, write down what goals, priorities, or people in your life will be impacted. This will help you differentiate between what’s meaningful and what’s not worth obsessing over. Focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and effort.
Practice Being Present & Live in the moment
Being present is not easy but living in the moment is key to learning how to stop overthinking. It requires a lot of practice to get hang of it but the results are worth it. Whenever you notice your mind ruminating about the past or wandering into the future then breathe and focus on the moment such as what you are hearing or seeing?
Daily routine rituals like journaling, practicing mindfulness meditation will certainly help you to gain conscious awareness and retain control over your mind so that you can stay in the present and practice living in the moment. It also helps to reduce stress, improve your focus, and increase your self-awareness.
Take Control of Your Emotions and Challenge Your Thoughts
It’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts and living in the moment doesn’t mean you should bury your negative emotions. In order to take control of your emotions and thoughts, you need to acknowledge them and identify their root causes. For example, when you’re feeling anxious, try to dig deeper and find out why you are feeling or thinking this way. It’s often about facing your larger fears, such as not feeling in control of your life or not progressing in a way you’d like to be. Become aware of the root causes of your overthinking and you can start making progress to stop it before it starts.
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