Overthinking can be very unhelpful and can send our thoughts and mood spiralling downwards. This is because overthinking activates parts of the mind that are associated with threat which leaves us feeling worried or more anxious. When we feel more worried, we tend to overthink more which creates further worry and so the vicious cycle flourishes horribly.
When we’re overthinking, it is key to be aware that we’re overthinking. This is not always easy especially if overthinking is a well-practised and common habit for you. With awareness, we can look to change and take control.
4 Ways to stop overthinking
1 – Talk to someone – When we’re aware we’re overthinking, if we can talk about what is on our minds it engages the rational part of us. This helps us see things clearly. Our mind also processes more which means we feel a reduced need or no need to think about it.
2 – Actively move our thoughts to the here and now. When overthinking whether it be ruminating on something from the past or thinking about a ‘What If’ of the future, we can seek to move our thoughts to the here and now. For example, you could focus on something specific such as noticing your breathing or stroking a pet. Mindfulness techniques can help with this.
3 – Write it – This is another way to engage your rational side and by expressing ourselves, it reduces our need to overthink and allows us to view things more realistically.
4 – Schedule a time – If there’s some pressing stressors on your mind, schedule a specific time to think about or process this. If you start to think about it, remind yourself that you’ve scheduled a time. ‘I’m not going to think of it now as I’m going to give it some thought at 10:30 tomorrow with a cup of tea’.
These points are suggestions that can help, however, as individuals, what may work for one may not work for another. I would love to hear your comments on this and hear what works for you.