Every person who has ever suffered from this unhealthy behavior has asked himself “how not to overthink?”. Thinking about something in endless circles is exhausting at the least, and can lead to serious issues if not addressed properly. It’s a mentally draining and destructive behavior that will often make you feel like you’re stuck in one place.
Luckily for those that suffer from overthinking everything, chronic worrying is a mental habit, which means it can be broken.
The average person tends to overthink a few things once in a while, but it is the chronic overthinkers that suffer the most, spending most of your time “ruminating” and putting more pressure on yourself than what you can manage. As Catherine Pittman explains; there are people with levels of overthinking that are just pathological. Failing to address this behavior will greatly impact your day-to-day life and put your well-being at risk.
Endlessly deliberating when making a decision, constantly asking yourself: Why did it happen? What does it mean? Too much and for too long, questioning every decision you make, not being able to sleep at night because worry keeps you awake, attempting to read into the smallest details, etc. All of these are different ways in which overthinking can present itself, and just by giving it a quick look it’s easy to understand why it is such unhealthy behavior.
If you find yourself and your thoughts dominated by ‘what if’ and ‘should’, then you need to take action now and stop overthinking.
How To Stop Overthinking?
You’ve probably heard that habits are easy to make, but hard to break. This is because of the way our brain works to “save time and energy”, however, with a little effort and some practice, you’ll be able to break this habit-loop.
Awareness – Realizing that you’re doing it
To address and cope with this destructive habit, you must first be aware that you’re falling into it. It might sound easy, right? In some cases, it is. But most of the time, our brain is so focused on the problem that we don’t perceive the way we’re responding to a certain situation. And that is the real problem here.
To overcome the lack of awareness, whenever you feel stressed or anxious about something, stop for a second, step back and instead of thinking about the problem, think about how you respond to it. Once you make a habit out of this, you’ll quickly identify every time you’re overthinking, and it is that little piece of awareness that will help you plant the seed of change. The next time you catch yourself ruminating on a problem or idea, pump the brakes. You don’t need to dig into anything just yet, just acknowledge the fact that you’re overthinking. That pause will also help you feel less overwhelmed and think more clearly.
Distract Yourself – Travel And Meet New Places
There are many other ways that you can describe this step; “Distract yourself from yourself” and “Distract yourself into happiness” are some pretty good examples (and almost self-explanatory). The best way to fight against the overwhelming thoughts that can take over your mind is distracting yourself and engaging into an activity that catches the attention of your brain.
Some simple activities like traveling and spending time outdoors are scientifically proven to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. By increasing your overall satisfaction with life and giving you a new perspective on things you will spend much less time worrying and give your brainpower a very welcomed boost. And the good news is that you don’t even need to leave the country, or even your state to take advantage of it.
Whether it is going for a walk, visiting a new restaurant or spending a night at a local bed and breakfast, you’ll quickly find out that your mind is not going through that worry loop anymore. Simply going to a place that you’ve never been before in your community or engaging in some new activities can do wonders for you.
Workout – Do Some Exercise
You’d be surprised how many times a little sweat can be the best cure for a worried mind. Among the myriad of benefits that physical activities have, psychological benefits are some of the most welcomed. Not only having a healthy body has long-term effects on your state of mind, but you can also break the overthinking cycle as soon as you start engaging in physical activity.
Since stress, anxiety, and worries, in general, are a matter of the mind, making your mind engage in something completely different has benefits of its own. It’s like taking away the pressure and letting your mind rest for a while, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even some of the most machines need to stop and cool every now and then.
By spending some time focusing on your body and whatever fitness goal you set for yourself, you’ll be taking away the power that worries have over you. It is basically a way to trick your mind into stopping overthinking. This is especially true if you decide to exercise outside, as it can uncloud your mind like no other thing.
Practice Gratitude – This is a Big One
For those who overthink everything, this is a necessity more than just a cheesy saying. It is a healthy practice with plenty of benefits beyond simply distracting yourself from problems. From improving self-esteem and increasing your mental strength to noticeable physical effects, gratitude is the best way to cope with overthinking behaviors and keeping yourself free of overwhelming feelings.
Although you will find different definitions of this term, gratitude is not just saying thanks to someone who opens the door for you. From the scientific perspective, gratitude is a positive emotion with a biological purpose and long-lasting benefits. Being a self-rewarding process, it is contagious and can influence catharsis and reciprocity, strengthening social and interpersonal bonds.
Final Words on Overthinking
To stop overthinking doesn’t mean that you will actively ignore that which can cause you stress or worries, it just means that you won’t let your mind go wild causing yourself unnecessary stress and anxiety. It will take some practice, especially if you have suffered from this for a long time, but by utilizing the advice listed here you will get rid of all the exhausting thoughts that plague your mind and find your well-deserved peace of mind.