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How to stop overthinking

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Original post from Gratitude - The Life Blog

  1. Don’t affirm that you’re an overthinker

  2. Pull yourself to the present

  3. Express your thoughts

  4. Shift your mindset to think constructively

  5. Focus on what you can do

  6. Divert your energy towards helpful activities

  7. Hold yourself accountable

1. Don’t affirm that you are an overthinker

While we must accept ourselves as we are, we should keep track of how we talk to ourselves. Statements like,

  • “Oh, I overthink all the time.”

  • “Overthinking is how I think.”

  • “I’m such an overthinker”

will make you stay the same. As they say, “Be careful of what you say to yourself because you are listening.”

If you tell yourself that you indeed are an overthinker, it will become more challenging for you to break away from that behavior.

Instead, use positive affirmations such as,

  • “I am in control of my thoughts.”

  • “I have peace of mind.”

  • “My mind is calm and positive.”

2. Pull yourself to the present

Okay, this might be the most important step of all. If there is one thing that I suggest you inculcate in yourself, it’s this.

We all know that all we have is now and that we should live in the present, but how do we do that? When your brain is spiraling from one possibility to another, how do we make it stop?

Here’s what I do:

1. As soon as I start feeling negative by my thoughts, in the form of worry, fear, stress, doubt, or overwhelm, I say out loud, “Stop. This is not helping.”

2. Then, I ask questions to bring myself where I really am. I notice the objects and atmosphere around me. I acknowledge what I am doing.

This is how my inner monologue can sound right now: I am in my room, sitting on the bed. My dog is lying next to the sofa. The mattress is comfortable. Wind from the ceiling fan is coolly touching my skin, I hear its sound. There is a painted bottle on my bedside table. It’s white and purple, with leaves on it. The curtains are blue and softly swaying. The light is dim. I can hear my mother putting down some bowls on the kitchen table. I hear the sound of plastic wrappers crunching.

I notice any tension that I could be feeling in my body. I ask myself what is happening right at this moment. Not what is on my mind, but what is happening around me. This helps me calm down and realize that all the stress I feel is a product of my thoughts and nothing else. This activity always helps me return to the here and now. In fact, it did so at this very moment.

3. I then take a deeeeeeep breath. And another one. And another one. Until my head feels lighter. I then say, “I am here. My mind is here. Everything is okay.”

3. Express your thoughts

Another helpful way is to put your thoughts out there. If journaling is something that works for you, go ahead and write about all the thoughts you’re having.

I often hear my friends say that they don’t know what to write or how to begin. I think they expect fully understandable sentences and cohesive paragraphs. But, journaling is not about professional writing.

Just go ahead and write broken misspelled words, in bad handwriting, only phrases, it depends on how your mind’s situation is. The way our thoughts are not linear or perfectly formed when overthinking, how we write then is also similar.

Or, you can talk to a reliable friend that you know will empathize but also be rational. During these times, we need someone to ring the bell when our cycle of thoughts becomes toxic and needs to be steered away from dangerous waters. They might also offer you helpful advice on what you can do.

Related: 8 Ways to Worry Less

4. Shift your mindset to think constructively

It’s all about perspective, right? It’s how we approach and respond to any given situation that determines how it’ll play out in our lives. It’s reshaping our thoughts to focus on the more helpful and human side.

Let’s look at some examples here: