Easy and Effective Ways to Stop Overthinking

Everyone overthinks every now and then.

However, an overthinking person is constantly bombarded by a barrage of thoughts all the time.

Chronic overthinkers imagine disastrous outcomes all day, second-guess every decision they make, and rehash just about every conversation they have ever had.

Overthinking involves more than just words—many have a tendency to conjure disastrous scenarios and images in their minds as well.

While overthinking and worrying is considered a part of the human experience, severe overthinking can take a dramatic toll to your overall well-being and health.

According to a 2013 study, dwelling on the same thoughts may even increase the risk of developing certain mental health conditions.

If you want to be kind to your mind and keep certain mental health conditions at bay, below are some good reads you should look into:

Overthinking: How to Stop It for Good

If you have the tendency to worry too much and overthink, below are some of the easy and effective ways you can stop overthinking for good.

Embrace Your Fears

There will always be things that are out of your control.

Accepting this fact can go a long way toward stopping overthinking for good.

Understandably, this is easier said than done and it’s not something you can achieve overnight.

However, you can begin embracing your fears by finding small opportunities where you can control and deal with the situations you constantly worry about.

Often, it’s not as bad and dire as you think.

Confronting your fears puts you in a position where you can look at the situation from a totally different perspective.

Practice Self-Compassion

If you dwell on your past mistakes, you will find it hard to let go of anything that is bothering you or causing you to overthink.

If you constantly beat yourself up over something you did a week ago, a day ago, or even years ago, you will not get anywhere.

To avoid getting stuck and overwhelmed by unwanted and undesirable thoughts, focus on self-compassion.

You can practice self-compassion by:

  • Taking note of a stressful thought that’s bothering you
  • Paying attention to the emotions and your physical responses
  • Acknowledging that your feelings are true and valid in the moment
  • Use a phrase or affirmation that speaks to you (“I accept myself as I am” or “I am enough”)

Additional reads that can help you develop self-compassion and self-love:

Take Action

In most cases, you might have the same thoughts repeatedly because you are not taking any actions to deal with the situation.

For instance, you can’t stop thinking about a person you envy, do something about it rather than just allowing it to ruin your day.

The next time you are visited by the green-eyed monster, stay on top of the situation by  jotting down ways you can reach your own goals.

This will not only help you channel your energy into positive actions, it also helps you deal with the situation so you don’t overthink about it.

Consider the Viewpoints of Others

At times, quieting your thoughts will require that you step out of your typical perspective and perceptions.

How you view the world can be shaped by your life values, assumptions, and experiences. 

Looking at things from a more positive perspective can also help you work through some of the noise.

Learn to master the art of thinking positively with these helpful reads:

Stay in the Present Moment

If you have the tendency to overthink and think of the same thought repeatedly or if you have the tendency to dwell in the past and focus on your past mistakes, staying in the moment can be your very powerful ally.

If you want to stay in the present moment, below are some of the most effective ways you can stay grounded:

  • Go outside. Take a walk outside even for just a few minutes. Even a quick walk around your block would suffice. Take inventory of the amazing sights and sounds you encounter along the way and take note of any sounds or smells you experience.
  • Eat mindfully. Treat yourself to one of your favorite meals. Find the joy in each bite and really focus on how the food smells, tastes, and feels in your mouth.
  • Unplug. Shut off your computers or turn your mobile phones for a designated amount of time daily and spend that time to focus on a helpful activity instead.

Acknowledge Your Successes

When you are in the midst of overthinking, you can stop the pattern by taking out your notebook or your note-taking app.

Jot/list down at least five things that have gone your way the past week and the role you played to make it happen.

They don’t necessarily have to be massive accomplishments.

Even something as small as being able to clean your room or sticking to the weekly budget you have set would do.

When you go over your list, you will be amazed how they all add up. 

When you start to overthink and your thoughts begin to spiral, refer back to your list to appreciate what you have accomplished.

Recognize Automated Negative Thinking

Automated negative thoughts (ANTs) refer to negative thoughts that involve anger or fear.

To tackle ANTs, keep the following basics in mind:

Determine and work through those automated negative thoughts by recording your thoughts and working actively to change them:

  • Use a notebook and take note of any situation that’s giving you anxiety. Take note also of the thoughts that change your mood and any negative thoughts that come to you automatically.
  • As you explore and get into the details, analyze why the situation is causing you to think negatively.
  • Break down any emotions you are experiencing and determine what you tell yourself about the situation.
  • Think of an alternative to the negative thought. For instance, rather than thinking “I am going to fail big time,” try something along the lines of “I am doing my best and I am hoping for the best outcome.”

Do Something Nice for Someone Else

Doing something nice for someone else will not only help ease your burden, it can also help you put things in their proper perspective. 

If you find yourself overthinking or bombarded with negative thoughts, think of ways you can be of service to others who are also going through trying times.

Do you have a friend who can use a few hours of help with childcare while she deals with her divorce? 

Can you do the groceries for a sick neighbor?

Knowing you have the power to make other people’s day better will help distract you from your negative thoughts.

More importantly, it can also give you something to focus on rather than dealing with a never ending stream of unwanted and negative thoughts.

Meditate

The enticing benefits of meditation have been proven and are hard to miss.

Adopting a meditation practice has also been known as an effective and evidence-backed way to clear your mind, remove negative chatter, and turn your attention inward.

Not sure how to get started with your meditation practice? The following read can help:

Take a Deep Breath

You have probably encountered this sage advice countless times.

Why? Because this works.

So the next time you find yourself tossing and turning, close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Here’s a good way to use a breathing exercise to calm your thoughts and yourself down:

Look for a comfortable place to sit and relax.

Place one hand on your heart and the other hand across your belly.

Inhale and exhale through your nose and pay close attention to how your chest and stomach moves as you breathe.

Try doing this breathing exercise at least three to five times a day for at least five minutes.

Or you can turn to this breathing exercise whenever you are bombarded with racing and negative thoughts.

Conclusion

While overthinking is common, it is reassuring to know you are not powerless against it. You also don’t have to go about it alone. If you deem it fit, don’t think twice about getting professional and expert help from a qualified therapist. They can help you effectively deal with the situation so you don’t have to go through it alone.