Are you thinking about something in endless circles?
Is there a way to stop overthinking about things?
Julie Marie Bowen, MSW, LCSW, CTS, CSAC
Lead Therapist, HOPE Therapy and Wellness Center
Overthinking everything can have harmful effects on a person’s mental health. Focusing on the negative, or your mistakes, or what you should have done differently can become a vicious cycle. Often these thoughts will continue to plague a person and it can be detrimental to a person’s well-being, mental health, and self-esteem.
We are often harder on ourselves than we are on others. We tend to expect more and assume we should be doing more, knowing more, and not making mistakes. However, this is not accurate and can have significant negative implications in our lives. When we ruminate and worry this can feed this negative downward spiral of thinking.
When working with someone on learning to change these thoughts and recognize these patterns, it is important to understand that often these thoughts are what are known as “cognitive distortions”. These are irrational thoughts that can significantly impact our emotions.
We all experience some forms of cognitive distortions, however, some people experience more extreme forms of these distortions and will overthink everything. One way to help to stop these irrational thoughts is with the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The focus with CBT is recognizing that our thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, and actions are all connected and impact one another.
Be aware of when you are overthinking.
This is the first step in working on overthinking. If you find yourself ruminating and thinking and worrying about something over and over throughout the day, take a moment to recognize that you are overthinking. Identify what thoughts are plaguing you. It is important to know when you are doing this in order to learn how to stop it.
Once you have identified that you are overthinking, it will be necessary to begin to identify the cognitive distortions or irrational thoughts. If you find yourself exaggerating or minimizing the importance of an event, this would be a cognitive distortion. Trying to interpret the meaning of a situation is another form of cognitive distortion.
Any thoughts that begin with “should”, “always”, “never”, or “every” are forms of cognitive distortions as well. If you find yourself overthinking and these types of thoughts are present, it is necessary to identify these as irrational thoughts.
This is also known as reframing or restructuring. This is not easy and takes practice. It is necessary to take the time to recognize that these thoughts are irrational and work on recognizing why they are irrational and challenge these thoughts. This will help in decreasing how frequently you overthink things.
An example of this would be if you are obsessively thinking about how a mistake you made was excessively important, the way to a challenge this thought might be to remind yourself “I made a mistake, but I can always do better next time”. This is reframing the thought and taking away some of the importance placed on this mistake.
Another important tool to help in stopping overthinking is using mindfulness. Mindfulness is about taking the time to stop and be present in the moment. If you are present at the moment, you are less likely to be worrying or overthinking everything.
One easy mindfulness activity that can be done counting colors. This involves taking deep breaths while looking around the area, choosing a color, and counting everything you see in that color. This is a form of distraction and helps to focus on the present rather than on worrying and overthinking. There are many different types of mindfulness activities that can be done other than this one that can be helpful in stopping the overthinking.
Dr. Russell Morfitt
Chief Psychology Officer | Co-Founder, Learn to Live
Leaning into the effort.
Most of the things we do in life can be split into two categories—avoidance behaviors and approach behaviors. If I am working long hours on a project now, in an effort to avoid having the team get mad at me…or to keep from embarrassing myself, I am engaging in an avoidance behavior (struggling to avoid these uncomfortable experiences), so I am more likely to feel more stressed and have less joy in my efforts.
Conversely, if I am working on that same project to move in the direction of a goal that I highly value—like putting my fingerprints on this prototype of my big idea—I am more likely to experience success and pleasure, even flow, as I pour my time into it.
Many ambitious people delay the celebration until the final product is completed. They put their heads down and push ahead until the final goal is accomplished. That’s the recipe for stress and for dread of the next painful step. It’s the leaders who celebrate the small successes and milestones who look forward to the next challenge along the path.
In our programs, we encourage people to find methods to reward themselves in the way that best allows them to savor success and to increase the likelihood of future success.
Focus on the valued goal behind the task.
Almost anything worth doing inevitably has some unpalatable qualities and some tedious tasks. Much of the unpleasantness fades when ambitious people remind themselves of the bigger picture repeatedly. They tell themselves, “I am digging through these old dusty files in this drab office because they might have the data I need to build the roadmap I need to start this business.”
Reframing stressful situations with a more positive approach can help lessen the impact of unpleasant events and increase emotional resilience.
Dr. Cali Estes, Ph.D.
Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Celebrity Addiction Specialist | Founder, The Addictions Coach
When I deal with clients that overthink things, I have them stop and let them answer these three questions:
“Is this for my highest good right now?”
Is this something they have to get done in this exact moment. Like if there is cooking or cleaning that has to get done because visitors are coming, that would be a pressing issue and if it is a pressing issue, jot it down and determine the best course of action to get it done in the timely matter.
“Can this be done this week?”
If it can be done this week, we can jot it down and avoid overthinking or “spinning” as we call it in therapy. If we jot down different ideas throughout the course of a week we won’t overthink and over analyze.
“Can this be done this month or this year?”
Things like prepping your tax returns you would not need to start doing until November of that year. People will generally overthink any topic that you give them especially if it’s a complex topic.
“What’s the worst that could happen and what’s the best that could happen?”
When I’m working with a client, I will ask them what is the best and worst case scenario on this topic. So instead of overthinking, ask yourself and if it falls within those parameters we don’t need to overthink it because that’s the best decision we can make.
Heather Z. Lyons, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist | Owner, Baltimore Therapy Group
This comes up so often in therapy for my clients and I think even more than it used to in the past. I have to think it’s because our culture has moved in the direction of providing so much feedback and external validation in the form of social media and greater parental involvement than in the past.
As a result, people start to lose sight of their own internal compass. We’ve stopped trusting and accepting ourselves for who we are. For that reason, we can overthink ourselves into paralysis as we look for the “right” decision instead of realizing that many directions might feel good to us and that we could make many different options work. We’ve stopped looking for “good enough.”
Set aside a “worry time.”
One strategy people can use to stop overthinking is to set aside a “worry time” and make it a specific time each day and for a specific duration. Then taper off to every other day, every week, etc. When you find yourself starting to overthink at other times, briefly jot down the concern so that you can come back to it during your “worry time.”
Setting a worrying time is helpful because of a mechanism called stimulus control. By setting aside specific times, we stop our brain from being stimulated to overthink or worry in response to triggers that we might not even be aware of like particular settings, people, or topics.
Kristen Ruth Smith
Brand Consultant | Graphic Designer |
Author, The Overthinker’s Guide to Love: A Story of Real-Life Experiments Turned Practical Wisdom
Overthinking, in any capacity, stands upon two pillars: a projection of the mind out of the present moment and into the future or past, and a propensity to assign imagined meaning to plain facts. Neutralize these underlying habits and we neutralize the overthinking.
Let us tackle the issue of imagined meaning first. Perhaps the most familiar example of this is the caricature of the woman who, upon receiving a post-date text, immediately calls up her girlfriend to parse the ‘real’ meaning of the happy face-clapping hands-eggplant emoji string.
Or, perhaps your friend seems quiet at a party, and you find yourself running a football-style-post-show-analysis of the incident wondering whether you unwittingly did something to offend him. In these cases, and the thousands like them, the facts of the encounters remain constant, but the experienced overthinker can extrapolate dozens of possible nuanced meanings from them.
This litany of interpretations, however, exist only in the imagination of the overthinker and are not, in actuality, getting us any closer to truly understanding the encounter.
To combat this habitual thought pattern, we have to catch ourselves doing it.
We have to recognize the worry, the repetition of thought, the mind returning to the issue like a dog to a bone. Only then can we parse fact from fantasy.
I’ve found the best way to do this is to literally speak the facts aloud as though reporting the events Dragnet-style. Just the facts, ma’am. “I walked into the living room. I saw Jon across the room and waved. Jon nodded to me and went back to his conversation.” Period.
If you hear yourself beginning to use emotion words, you’re out of the realm of facts. Try again. Getting the story distilled to what you actually know to be true will help quiet the overthinking imagination.
Focus on the now.
Turn now to the second part of this equation. Whether a particular overthinker’s personality tends toward repetitive rumination over a past encounter or feverish pre-planning for all possible future outcomes, the solution is the same. Return to now. Simple, perhaps, but not always easy.
Again, you first must catch yourself in the momentum of the overthinking. From that realization, you can consciously retrieve your time-traveling mind by taking a simple account of your surroundings, the feel of the chair under you, the breath in your lungs or the beat of your heart. These realities of present moment awareness leave no room for overthinking.
Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR
Licensed Psychotherapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio
In times of overwhelm and anxiety, we are like a cup that is already full of worried thoughts. Any superfluous information coming in can make the cup spill.
Reduce the amount of information coming at you.
Find ways to minimize information coming into your mind. Minimize your overall daily input. You may have to stop scrolling social media, reduce or stop listening to or watching the political news, and stop checking your inbox and notifications every few minutes.
You may benefit from putting your smartphone away for a few hours every evening and getting back to your loved ones, your pets, and your hobbies.
Remember to single-task and to take regular breaks at work.
When you do get back to your work and responsibilities, you feel be more refreshed. You will be better able to keep focused on what is most important after you have rested, played, and recharged.
Our culture is unhealthy and encourages us to stay focused on productivity. That kind of singular focus on production only leaves us running on fumes. Regular breaks help us to think more clearly and help us to stop feeling overwhelmed with work. Honoring our body’s need for play and rest is actually more sustainable for the long haul.
Related: Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?
Find some time to be alone and relax.
If you find yourself worrying too much, get very quiet. Go away from the maddening crowd. Find a relaxing spot for you, whether it is in your bedroom, or in nature, find a spot that feels safe to you. Place your hand over your heart. Ask yourself what is going on. Listen to yourself. And then, look at your to-do list. Look long and hard.
Many times, anxiety has to do with not getting enough rest, time alone, or unstructured time. Our culture is sick. We place too much emphasis on producing and being busy, and rushing becomes a default way of life.
We were not meant to just work, produce, rush, and check the next thing off of our list. We are biologically hardwired for human connection, for play, for creativity, and for times of rest.
If we don’t have those meaningful human connections and interactions, then, we are not receiving empathy. If we don’t make time for play, we become resentful and bitter. If we don’t make time for creativity, we become stuck. We stop seeing a way out! If we don’t make time for rest, we get sick. Autoimmune problems are the self-attacking itself. We literally don’t recognize ourselves! Do you recognize yourself?
Find some quiet time to process our emotions.
We can’t process our feelings whilst grabbing fast food, dropping one kid off, running to pick up another kid, and worrying about getting our mileage report in on time. We were not designed to move so quickly and on such little sleep, nutrition, and connection.
Examine the pace of your life.
Where can you prune some of the superfluous demands on your time? What items can be delegated, or removed from your to-do list entirely?
Saying no can be a way to protect yourself and create armor while you are healing from anxiety. Every time you try to be helpful and pleasing by saying “yes” to someone else’s needs, are you also saying “no” to your own needs? Are you saying “no” to your own need for stillness, quiet, time in nature, time to relax, and unstructured time to play or create?
The slow living and slow foods movement may be appealing to your anxious mind and body. Anxiety keeps us worried about the future. Slowing down, such as savoring a homemade meal with your loved ones, helps your internal rhythm regulate. Slowing down helps us to be at the moment.
Anxiety lives in the future. Staying mindful of the present moment is where the real juice of your life lives. Take away anything that isn’t necessary to the life and health of you and your loved ones.
When the church asked Michelangelo how he created the marble sculpture of The David, he said that he simply took away anything that wasn’t The David.
You must do the same in order to heal from anxiety; take away anything that is not you and your healthy, peaceful, loving, connected life.
Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT
Licensed Psychotherapist | Founder, Embracing Joy
Notice when you are over thinking.
Having an awareness that you are doing this is the first step to being able to stop -give yourself a time limit on how long you can spend worrying or focusing on a particular issue-manage your anxiety. Most of overthinking come from a place of anxiety where you become scared to make a decision and more importantly make the wrong one.
Talk it out and over with a friend or therapist.
Talking about our challenges and issues helps us air out how we are actually feeling. It allows us to get clarity and put to rest things that we overthink. Come back to the present moment. Overthinking robs us of what’s happening right here and now. When we are lost in our minds, we are hardly aware of our surroundings.
Jennifer Miller, MS, LMFT, LMHC, QS
Clinical Director, New Perspectives, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group Facility
If ruminating over a particular topic, put pen to paper and journal. Writing is not only therapeutic but provides an outlet for thoughts and feelings to be articulated. Without the concern for censorship, one might have if speaking to another, freedom of expression is experienced and the underlying fears have an opportunity to rise to the surface.
Therapists provide objectivity, active listening, clinical skill, cognitive challenging, and restructuring, all of which prove beneficial in assisting individuals with the tendency to overthink. Engaging in therapy can restructure the thought process and also build confidence, bolstering decision-making abilities and therefore decreasing the need to ruminate.
Develop healthy distraction techniques.
Healthy coping strategies are necessary and beneficial for all and should be tailored to the individual’s preferences. When caught in an overthinking spiral, implement a coping skill – take a walk on the beach, bubble bath, yoga class, jog through the park, swim in the pool, go to the pool, spa, gym, shopping, read a book, bake a cake, listen to music, or watch a movie, whatever will distract you from your cognitive obsession.
Jessica Serber, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, OCD Specialists
Learn to be okay in the gray.
Over-thinkers often see the world in black and white. They believe that things are either good or bad, right or wrong, lovable or unlovable. Learning to see and accept the middle ground is key to treating overthinking. The grey area can be an uncomfortable place to be for an over-thinker, so this may sound easier said than done, but can be improved with practice.
Letting go of the ideas of perfection and certainty and adopting the more gentle, rational idea that things are not black or white is an important mental shift for over-thinkers.
Over-thinking is paralyzing as it keeps people stuck going over the same thoughts and worries on repeat. Taking action is a surefire way to break the cycle of overthinking. No matter how much thought is put into a decision, there is no guarantee of how it will turn out.
In most cases, there is no one right decision. So, while this means you might still make a decision that ends up not being the best choice for you, that’s ok! You can make a new decision and keep moving forward.
Stopping our thoughts entirely is an unrealistic goal. Thinking is a natural part of being a human being and is a function of a healthy brain. Practicing mindfulness allows us to become more aware of our thoughts and whether we’ve fallen into excessive thinking about a topic. Awareness is the first step in creating change.
Think of mindfulness as being an outside observer of your thoughts instead of becoming tangled up in them. When it comes to over-thinking, mindfulness can be practiced by first becoming aware of when you’re getting stuck in over-thinking and gently redirecting yourself to something more productive.
Mindfulness is a moment-by-moment practice and not something that can be perfected, so be patient with yourself and focus on progress over perfection.
Christy Monson, L.M.F.T.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Author, Finding Peace in Times of Tragedy
Sometimes our thoughts are like wild horses racing up a canyon, fleeing in every direction. Thinking patterns can become habitual, and we can all change our habits. Thought-stopping and thought substitution are great methods to use.
Replace your overthinking with a positive thought.
I love to use creative imagery. See yourself walking in your favorite place. Use all of your senses in this imagery. Feel the sand between your toes, smell the salty air, hear the birds singing, let the warm sunshine soak into your soul. Create your own set of images and rotate them. This will not only give you variety but also help you to relax and live easier.
This works because the mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. Use this technique as part of your daily meditation to start the day on a peaceful note.
Carolyn Robistow, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Founder, The Joy Effect, PLLC
Our brains are wired to automatically scan our world for possible threats and things to be prepared for as a means of self-preservation so we tend to fall into overthinking without even trying.
Focus on the present.
If your mind is focused on the present then it isn’t wandering aimlessly in the future thinking of all the “what ifs” or possible scenarios.
One quick and easy mindfulness activity to ground yourself in the present is to key into the 5 senses. What are 5 things you can see right now? Describe them in detail. “The blue and green striped kitchen towel is hanging on the metal hook.” Do the same for four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Mindfulness can put a stop to overthinking at the moment. However, more is required to stop a problematic habit of overthinking on a regular basis.
Reflect on your core values.
When overthinking is a habit and you don’t have time to stop and practice mindfulness every time it starts because then you’d never get anything accomplished, I encourage you to spend some time to identify and reflect on your core values.
For my clients, I offer a list of 81 possible values such as efficiency, honesty, world peace, wealth, stability, genuineness, etc. (all of which are positive values to have) and we work together to prioritize their top 10-15 values, because living all 81 values all the time is an unreasonable expectation to have of ourselves.
Once you’ve chosen your top 10 core values, you now have a filter to use for all your decisions. If you’re making a decision that’s in line with your values, then you know it’s a good decision for you. If it’s outside your values, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable and more inclined to overthink it. Stick to your top values, and you’ll find a decrease in the habit of overthinking.
Sometimes, you might come to a fork in the road where you have to choose between two of your core values. In those situations, rather than focusing on the value you’re not picking, shift your attention to the value you are choosing to live in that moment and remind yourself that you’ve chosen correctly because you’ve stayed with a top 10 value.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Founder, Sleepedy
Be aware of when you’re overthinking.
The first step in doing something about overthinking is noticing when you do it. You can’t do anything about your thoughts if you aren’t aware of them. Awareness of our thoughts is hard for most, as we never really think about our thoughts.
A trick to noticing when you are overthinking something is doing through your feelings. Thoughts are hard to become aware of, but most of us can tell if our mood changes. If your mood suddenly shifts, take notice of what you were thinking about. In therapy, we call the thoughts that cause negative emotions “trigger thoughts”.
Overthinking, worry and rumination always start with a single thought. It’s important to write down the theme of the overthinking as we tend to forget it quite fast.
Set aside time for your thoughts each day.
Twenty minutes is usually enough. You will need to practice postponing the overthinking to this time. Every time you notice you have been thinking about something too much, you say to yourself, “This is something that I can do in my thinking time”.
When the times come you sit down, go through your list of thoughts for the day and decide what you want to do with each theme or thought. Most of the time, you will find that there isn’t much to worry about. If you feel the theme is important, you make an actionable todo-list. You note what you intend to do about it and when you are going to do it. This way, you convert the thoughts to planned actions. You are now problem-solving instead of just “overthinking everything”.
Eventually, you will learn to recognize specific themes and find that you have already solved them. You can eventually learn to just let trigger thoughts slide. And you don’t have to do anything with them, and that thoughts are just thoughts. In metacognitive therapy, this is called detached mindfulness, you notice the thoughts, but don’t engage with them.
Licensed Professional Counselor | Founder, Marble Wellness
Overthinking can become a habit so even if we want to move on from that habit, it takes intentional replacement of it with something else. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to disrupt overthinking in both the immediate moment and as a way to replace the habit overall.
When we bring our focus back to the present-things we can see, taste, touch, smell, and feel our mind is forced to focus on the here and now. So often, overthinking is about thinking so many steps into the future that we get caught in an anxiety loop. By focusing on the here & now, our brain is limited to what is in our immediate surroundings. It cannot simultaneously be involved in the present environment and be worried about things in the future.
Analyze your thoughts based on importance.
Another helpful tip, once you start to gain strength in reeling your thoughts back in, is to truly ask yourself “Will spending extra time worrying about this mean anything in a year? Will I even remember the angst of this decision seven months from now?” If the answer is no, coax yourself into moving on because otherwise, you’re just exposing yourself to emotional suffering about an event that doesn’t even make it into your highlight reel.
The two habits together can really be helpful in getting back control over your thought process. Overthinking is exhausting and it’s a disservice to your life. It may be tough at first to replace that bad habit but it is so worth it in the long run!
Jaime Malone, M.A., LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Founder, Insight Counseling and Consulting, LLC
A tendency to overthink something might be driven by a need to resolve the discomfort of uncertainty. When there is doubt attached to an experience, you may resort to “overthinking” because at some level you believe this approach and attention will bring you clarity and resolution, and that will provide calm and security.
The reality is, when your thoughts stay stuck in your head, they tend to be on a loop and more time or effort thinking about the same scenario does not generate much change, or a different perspective, so it doesn’t resolve the discomfort attached to that thing for you.
When you get stuck in your own head, metaphorically, this can be a little bit like taking a bath: your sitting in your own dirty water. There is no change. There is no movement. What you start with is what you end with. And that’s what leads to the overthinking and the tendency to come back to it, because you haven’t transformed your perspective or understanding in any way, and thus your feelings remain the same.
Ideally, you want your thoughts about a distressing situation to be moving, changing, flowing in some way such that you gain some peace and resolution (and thus no longer need to think about it!). So again metaphorically, this is more like taking a shower: where the water is flowing, dirt is getting washed away – there are change and movement.
Talk to a trusted person or confidante.
In this regard, a strategy to interrupt over thinking would be having a conversation with a trusted person whose perspective you value. By adding their thoughts to your own, it can begin to change how you’ve been thinking about something, and this progress can lead to a resolution that allows you to move on from the topic of concern and focus on the next experience.
It can be helpful in life to have multiple trusted people from whom you seek counsel. Depending upon what facet of your life or what issue is at hand, you may need different things at different times. Sometimes you need concrete problem solving or developing an action plan. Sometimes you need empathy and compassion.
When you can identify the underlying need that is feeding the overthinking, it allows you to be purposeful in seeking out the type of support and resolution you need to move forward!
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Improve your sense of mindfulness.
This concept means living in (and hopefully enjoying) the present moment. So often the thoughts consuming our mind are from the past which we cannot change or the future which hasn’t even happened yet. Notice what is happening right now. What is occurring around you right now? What do you see, hear, feel, smell, taste?
Identify and challenge the specific worry.
Typically anxious, stressful thoughts are not realistic or helpful. There is a sense of falsity to them. Is your thought a prediction that you can not actually predict? Is your thought an expectation you cannot actually meet? If you can identify how your thought is unhelpful, this is the first step in challenging it.
Ben Barrett, LLMSW, CAADC
Clinical Social Worker | Founder, The How to Social Worker | Addictions Professional
There are some of us who tend to retain some neurotic-like compulsive thinking. We overthink everything. Due to this compulsive need, people in this category can have an extremely difficult time trying to stop thinking about whatever it is that’s on their mind. So here’s a trick that I’ve learned from experience and taught to clients who see me: don’t try to stop thinking!
Focus your thoughts on something more pleasurable.
This isn’t just a shift in your thinking; allow yourself to visualize that pleasurable moment: being on a beach and feeling the sand in your toes and wind in your hair. As you allow yourself to become consumed by this visualization, the racing and compulsive thoughts will slow and even stop. You are using your compulsions to your advantage and disengaging from any troublesome thoughts.
Addiction and Trauma Therapist
The mind suffers because of what I call “monkey mind.” It moves backward and forwards from past to future and never rests. All overthinking is based on this concept that the mind cannot rest. That is why spirituality and spiritual techniques are remedies.
One must learn about the “computer of the body” and how it works and then take control of it. We are the creation of our reality. That is why it is important to stop the mind from turning over and over and back and forth.
Meditate every day – train your mind to rest.
It can be controlled, as it belongs to you. Here are some spiritual tools:
- Imagine a magnet in the center of your head – your pineal gland. Turn all your thoughts into a lead and make them gravitate to the center. Know that the only thought that you need is “I am the light. I am resting in the center of myself.“
- Imagine a fishbowl in the center of your head and turn the thoughts into fish. Let them all swim into the center bowl and affirm- I am at peace.
- Place your hand on the top of your head. Imagine all the thinking is done above your head. You will notice that when you focus on this area, you can’t think.
- Every time you have a thought say a mantra “not this, not this, not this.” It is a trick to get the mind to stop.
- Know that the mind is not to take center stage – it is the heart and intuition that gets to be the star.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Mental Health Professional | Holistic Life Coach
Decide that you are no longer going to give power over to your mind.
If you already are aware that you are overthinking everything, the first step to stop overthinking is to decide. Our brain, our head, only takes up about 8-10% of our body. Drop into the 88-90% of everything else below the head – the heart, the belly, the hands & feet. Drop into where you’re holding tension, where you’re holding your emotions.
Once you do that, decide when you are overthinking, you will drop into your body, into your emotions and ask yourself: What is my body telling me right now? What are my emotions telling me right now? And then move from there.
Our body, our emotions, tell us to move, to get in motion – to run, jump, play, chat, discuss, reach out, love, listen. We are more powerful than our overthinking minds.
International Best-Selling Author | Business Coach
Set the intention for the day.
I have my clients set a daily intention on how they want to feel throughout the day before they even get out of bed. Then I have them ask themselves what needs to happen for them to achieve that emotion. This help to tell your subconscious what it is to focus on. All too often we are just going through the motions without a clear direction. This will give our brain something to focus on. Keep in mind that your brain does what you tell it to.
Gain clarity on what you want to achieve.
Getting laser-focused on what you want to accomplish or achieve gives you a focus point on where to put your attention. Lack of clarity is one of the reasons some people stress and overthink things. When you are crystal clear on the outcome and HOW you will achieve it, you have set yourself up for success. Which leads us into point #3.
Follow the action plan.
Once you have the clarity to what you are trying to achieve, and how you want to feel throughout the day, create an action plan to make this happen. Then commit to your action plan. Following the action plan is to reduce the overwhelm and fear that adds to the overthinking.
Author | Life Coach, e-counseling.com
Sometimes we don’t get our way and end up brooding about the disappointment. It’s called “Processing,” the line of thought that reviews past failures, potential troubles, and ongoing difficulties.
Some of those troubling situations might be yours or someone else’s, but no matter who is affected, you’re sabotaging your mental health by focusing on problems rather than on making decisions about what to do about a problematic situation. Those decisions must be followed up with planning to take specific relevant actions, and then to take those actions to effect necessary solutions.
Utilize mental health books and online support groups.
Dr. Abraham Lowe wrote a book entitled Mental Health Through Will Training to help people with depression. The text is based on sound psychological principles. Self-help groups read it together and members coach each other into self-directed action. The success of the program is illustrated by its 80th year of existence, with groups meeting all over the world.
Self-esteem rises, medication becomes less necessary or unnecessary, and all of that is due to the fact that fans of the book and Recovery International group members stop overthinking. Instead of overthinking, they habitually rely on self-help tactics described in the group materials supplied by Recovery, International. Some of those tactics are described in my opening paragraph.
If you want to overcome self-sabotage with constructive thinking that leaves you objective, confident, realistic, and increasingly successful at mastering difficulties, then read the book and join the groups described above. No therapists will be necessary. You’ll be succeeding in life with peer support.
The methodology is admired and endorsed by therapists around the world. You can learn about Recovery International online and in all the books it supplies to support a self-directed life.
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, M.D.
Family Doctor, Med Alert Help
Distract yourself with creative activities.
The most important thing with overthinking is to stop it before as soon as it starts. Sometimes you get caught in the loop of overthinking about stopping to overthink and you get stuck easily. However, simple yet brain-demanding activities can help you shift your focus instantly. These include puzzle, problem-solving games or memory tasks – anything that you cannot do automatically while thinking about something else.
Don’t let emotions control you.
When you start overthinking, your emotions take over. You typically have negative thoughts regarding a certain problem and easily lose your ratio in the process. In this case, it’s important to take charge of emotions. Force yourself to think rationally and break down the problem. Writing your thoughts or saying them out loud may help as well. Once you read or say something, you usually use our ratio as well which helps you take control over emotions.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Another factor that makes it hard to break the habit is the fact that you’re often too hard on yourself. You may realize you’re overthinking things, get annoyed and start banging your head over it. This is the ideal situation for your emotions to take over and disable you from thinking rationally. If this happens, simply note that you’re overthinking (this is nothing new) and give yourself time to develop new habits. Forgiving yourself is an incredibly important step in the process.
Brittany and Kelan Kline
Founders, The Savvy Couple
Train your body and mind to take action quickly.
When you train yourself to take action quickly you prevent your mind from having enough time to start overthinking and stressing about everything. This also comes back to having the right perspective on things and thinking big picture as much as possible.
Having a macro mindset allows you to decipher between what is truly important and what has little effect on your life. This mindset shift also allows you to understand that you can’t control everything in life. So stressing and worrying about everything bring very little value to your life.
One of the best activities I have personally done to prevent overthinking everything is setting big goals, breaking them down, and creating a task list of no more than three things I want to accomplish each day.
This will set you up for success and get you taking action faster than ever before.