Overthinking doesn’t sound so bad on the surface–thinking is good, right? But overthinking can cause problems. When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy and your stress gets elevated. You spend too much time in the negative. It can become difficult to act.
You finally have a few quiet moments to yourself, only to immediately start wondering and thinking about every possible thing that could go wrong or isn’t working out for you. Sound familiar? Worrying and overthinking are part of the human experience, but when left unchecked, they can take a toll on your well-being. Dwelling on the same thoughts may even increase your risk of certain mental health conditions.
If this feels like familiar territory to you, here are a few simple ideas to relax yourself from overthinking:
Notice When You’re Stuck in Your Head
Overthinking can become such a habit that you don’t even recognize when you’re doing it. Before you can begin to address or cope with your habit of overthinking, you need to learn to be aware of it when it’s happening.
When you’re replaying events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can’t control, acknowledge that this isn’t productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.
Look at How You’re Responding
The way you respond to your thoughts can sometimes keep you in a cycle of rumination, or repetitive thinking.
The next time you find yourself continuously running things over in your mind, take note of how it affects your mood. Do you feel irritated, nervous, or guilty? What’s the primary emotion behind your thoughts?
Don’t Believe Every Thought
Don’t believe the lies your own mind tells you. It seems like a simple enough statement, but it’s hard to do for people who are chronic worriers or who tend to overthink everything.
The truth is, you have the power to take control of your thoughts. When negative self-talk creeps in, you don’t have to believe it. You can acknowledge it — and you should. But you have a choice on whether you let it take over. Just because your own mind is telling you to overthink about something, or be fearful about something doesn’t mean you have to.
You can distract yourself from yourself. When you overthink things, those thoughts and worries start to take over your mind. You can fight back against them by immediately doing something else that engages your brain.
This could include writing in a journal, doing twenty pushups, reading an article, or calling up your best friend. Whatever you can do to get yourself out of that moment of worry, take action and do it.
Put Things into Perspective.
It’s always easy to make things bigger and more negative than they need to be. The next time you catch yourself making a mountain out of a molehill, ask yourself how much it will matter in five years. Or, for that matter, next month.
Just this simple question, changing up the time frame, can help shut down overthinking.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
There are things in life you’re going to be able to control, and things you can’t. Recognize the things you can’t control and accept them for what they are.
That means you’re going to have to let some things go. It’ll take time and practice, but the more aware you are of the things you can’t control, the easier it will eventually become to stop fretting about them so much.
Meditation is simply a relaxation technique that allows you to be mindful and focused on the present moment, rather than letting your anxious thoughts take over.
Finding just a few minutes a day to sit in silence, focus on your breathing, and let thoughts come and go freely can make a big difference in the overall health of your mental state. It can take practice to clear your head, even for a few minutes, but try to make meditation a part of your daily routine and you’ll undoubtedly start to recognize the calming effects it can have.
The benefits of gratitude range from physical to psychological. It can improve your self-esteem and increase your overall mental strength.
By keeping a daily journal of things you’re grateful for, you’ll have something as reference and look back on in moments that feel overwhelming, or when you find yourself drowning with worry. Gratitude can give you a different perspective on things, so the situations you’re overthinking about become less important.