Have you ever felt stuck in your own thoughts that you forget to notice what’s happening around you? Are those thoughts repeatedly popping in your mind?
If yes, then you already know what overthinking is.
Overthinking is a by-product of anxiety, fear, and depression.
The classic definition of overthinking is, “to think about something too much or for a long time.”
Synonym of permanent overwhelming, it can be experienced in many forms, as in, delaying making decisions, predicting future, noticing the tiniest detail, and trying to understand and minds. It results in sleepless nights, unproductive days, perturbed relationships, and a stressful mind, creating a total disorder in our life!
“It makes us feel uneasy and gives muscle tension” – Pittman, the author of “Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry.”
FORMS OF OVERTHINKING DISORDER
Overthinking has many forms: endlessly overthinking while making any decision, trying to read minds, making a prediction about the future, going into the smallest of details, and more.
People with the habit of overthinking run commentaries in their minds about criticizing what they did yesterday and terrified about the awful future that might await them. In some cases, it can be a sign of autism.
IS OVERTHINKING AFFECTING YOUR HAPPINESS?
If you keep thinking about the past or future, you are obviously not enjoying your present. Evaluating everything in your head and searching for the solutions, you create problems for yourself that don’t exist.
Although people believe they are problem-solving through rumination, it does not result in any real or actionable solution. In reality, problems sometimes intensify when you dwell on them. — Jessica DuBois-Maahs
Overthinking does nothing more than elevating your stress. When you spend too much time in the negative, it may become difficult for you to act.
Even though everyone thinks a little more about a few things, but some people spend too much time thinking. This puts extra pressure on them and then they consider this pressure to be stress.
Ruminating, prevents you from letting things go, therefore, moving forward and hence giving rise to unhappiness.
1. DISCONNECT YOURSELF FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Do you find yourself spending hours on the internet? Even though you know it gets toxic? Here is an article of the side effects of social media.
We know it is difficult to completely cut off from the social media. But you should try reducing your time, especially after you wake up and before you go to bed.
These times are the most sensitive. A positive morning can help you have a stress free day, and an anxiety-free hour before sleep will help you have a good night sleep. Once your routine gets fixed, you will stop overthinking.
Read more how disconnecting from social media helped Kelly.
2. BRING CONTROL AND DISCIPLINE IN YOUR LIFE
STRUCTURE YOUR LIFE
When you know how to take action each day then you will suffer less from overthinking.
Setting a good tone and deadlines for the day are the main things that can help you to become a person of action.
Another habit that can work well is to take small steps forward and focus on achieving one step at a time. This works well because you do not feel over-pressure and so you don’t want to flee into lazy action. Taking a small step is a little thing that does not put you in a state of fear.
FILL YOUR LIFE
One way to avoid overthinking is to indulge your mind into something you enjoy. It could be anything.
Sometimes it is very helpful to divert yourself with positive and happy alternatives. Activities like dancing, exercise, mediation, knitting, painting, drawing, or anything that interests you may help you to become happy.
Even if you don’t have one, you could try new stuff to figure out what relaxes you the most.
Listing some here for you:
These activities divert your mind from stressful thoughts while giving you a purpose to live.
3. THINK POSITIVE AND YOU WILL THINK LESS
The way we perceive things can also affect our thinking patterns.
Convert all your negative thoughts to something positive, and purposeful.
For instance, “I don’t have good friends” this is a negative approach. However if you convert it to “how can I take steps to deepen the existing friendships and make new ones?” is a better approach, says Ryan Howes, Ph.D.
Stop musing about the ‘should have, could have, would have, and what if’s’, and think about the good things in life.
You spend too much time in the negative zone of thinking that it becomes like your comfort zone. — Saloni Singh
Don’t think about things that may go wrong, instead think about things what can go right.
In many cases, fear becomes the main reason of overthinking. When you focus on all the negative things around you, you may suffer of overthinking. Next time when you realize you are going to that point, divert your attention to all the things that can go right.
4. EMBRACE YOU BEING PERFECTLY IMPERFECT
No one is perfect, no one can be perfect.
Stop chasing perfection and accept YOURSELF as YOU ARE. This does not mean that you stop working on improving yourself, instead of focusing on becoming a better version without comparing your growth with the people around you.
Not everyone with an easy past is perfect, or vice versa. It is just how you embrace your imperfections and handle yourself in overcoming what life has in stock for us.
This is very important. If you are waiting for perfection, then stop waiting right now. Being aspiring is not wrong but waiting for perfection is impractical, unrealistic, and debilitating.
The moment you start expecting for something, someone or yourself to be perfect is the moment you need to remind yourself that waiting for looking for perfection is the best way to dive into emotional distress.
5. CONTROL YOUR FEAR
Our fears over-complicate our lives for us. They often lead to overthinking minute things or decisions, increasing the sufferings that might not even happen.
As Roman Stoic says “we suffer more often in imagination than in reality”
As humans, we fear:
• not being good enough
• making a wrong decision
• making a mistake
We need to keep ourselves relaxed and control our emotion from overpowering the mind.
It is easy to also fall into the trap of overthinking about minor things in life. When you find yourself thinking again and again about something ask yourself a question:
Will this really matter in 5 years or even in 5 weeks?
Widening the perspective by using this question can quickly help you out of overthinking and let go of that situation. It lets you focus your energy and time on something that really matters in your life.
6. SET BOUNDARIES TO YOUR WORK
If you find yourself overthinking a decision you have to or have already made, just think if it is something that will matter to you in the next 5 years? If no, then there is no point spending hours on it.
Spend your time and energy on your goals and plans that will have a long term positive impact on you.
Give yourself an edge. Set a timer for a few minutes and utilize that time in thinking, worrying, and analyzing. After this, spend some minutes writing down all the things that are stressing you.
Let it rip. When these minutes are up, throw this paper and move on to something fun.
You can learn here more about reducing stress at work in this wonderful article.
Here are some anti-stress quotes that can also be useful to you.
7. LET GO THE PAST AND LIVE FOR TODAY
In average, you got 27 375 days in your life. What do you want to do with them?
Overthinkers mostly focus on what have done in the past. The people who know how to stop overthinking also know that the past is just that and it cannot be changed. The only thing that can be changed is the meaning you give to it. Letting the past go means you do not let mistakes take control of future decisions. And you do not let unhappy things that have done in the past to control your emotions. Forgiving others and letting go of your anger is the most significant way to change your story.
Spending time, regretting the choices made in the past, and thinking about how to make the future worthwhile, we forget about the present. Most of us are so busy in our minds, that we spend our today thinking about our yesterday and tomorrow.
Living in the moment, and enjoying it to the fullest is one of the best things you’ll ever do in your life. Because what’s done in the past cannot be corrected, and what’s in the future is not in our control.
8. SAY NO TO THINGS THAT BOTHER YOUR MIND
You are under no obligation to say yes to each and everything that comes your way. Be it a job, a friendship, supporting someone financially, or what so ever. Learn to say no without feeling guilty, if you are not satisfied with it. Don’t give yourself reasons to overthink.
Take a step for the betterment of your mental health. Nothing is more important than a healthy mind.
MEDITATE TO GROW INNER PEACE
Meditation is a way you can use to deeply and quickly change your way of feeling and thinking the world.
If you don’t know how to meditate, here is an article on how to easily start meditation and some quotes to give you meditation’s inspiration.
REALIZE THAT EVERYTHING CANNOT BE CONTROLLED
Thinking about a thing several times can make you control it. To get every wanted outcome you don’t want to make any error, fail, or look like an idiot. But these things are a part of your life where you need to stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire must save made mistakes or failed in life.
In many cases, they also have considered such things as valuable feedback to learn from mistakes. These things that may be seen negatively have taught them lessons and helped them to grow. So, don’t try to control everything.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FEELINGS
You can’t completely bury your negative feelings and you don’t have to. The best strategy is to take control of your emotions. Acknowledge them and figure out their root causes. When you are worried, dig deeper. This is mostly about facing your biggest fears, for example not progressing in a way you would like to be or not feeling in control of your life. Get to know the origin of your overthinking and you can begin making improvements to stop it before it begins.
ASK YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Asking yourself wrong questions does not help to identify what is going on in your thoughts or your life. Such questions will only support more overthinking. Try to ask questions that are solution-oriented rather than the questions that trigger rumination. Asking the right questions that let you make changes in your life and move forward in a healthy way will reduce overthinking.
LEARN TO APPRECIATE
Mostly, when a person ignores and devalues his/her blessings, and is always in a run mentally, to figure out ways to gain more and more, he/she loses the track.
The track to a happier life.
Be grateful for everything you have, including parents, friends, family, even the accessories you use. Not everyone is blessed with what you are. There are people out there, living barefoot on the streets.
Appreciate the little things in life, value them, and stop overthinking the things that aren’t worth it.
You can not be grateful and regretful at the same time. So why not spend time thinking about the positive. Every day make a list of things you are grateful for. Share this list with someone so you can have a witness to the good things.
TAKE AWAY: HOW TO STOP OVERTHINKING
Overthinking can result in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. To keep yourself protected from your thoughts, get involved in activities that distract you. It can be writing a dairy to playing a sport. The main purpose is to withdraw your mind from the unproductive thoughts to something that keeps you at peace.
Watch this Ted Talk to learn more
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