How to stop overthinking is a question that many people have asked themselves at some point in their lives.
Overthinking is a vicious cycle that usually leads to unhappiness and anxiety. But you have the power to break out of it.
When you overthink to the point where what was meant to be an exciting and positive idea becomes over analysed and deconstructed, and the joy that comes from taking action disappears, it can lead to overthinking disorder. This disorder can make you stagnant in many aspects of life.
Until recently, I used to overthink a lot, I always have lots of 'what-ifs', 'buts', 'maybes' for every thought, and I'll spend days or months in that rabbit hole. Now I'm more about taking action and learning every step of the way.
In this article, I'll like to share Habits you can start building to stop overthinking and becoming a smart thinker so you can enjoy a happier and fearless life.
1. Identify relevance with Duration.
Check the viability of your thinking by how relevant it will be in 3-5 weeks or 3-5 years.
What this does is
- Put things in perspective for you.
- Snap you out of overthinking
- make things easier to let go
- Save you valuable time as refocusing your energy and time on something will 'move the needle.
2. Set Actionable Deadlines
Without a time limit on when you should take action, you'll just be turning round in circles. While this is happening, something very crucial is going by - TIME.
Here's what you can try:
- For most repetitive routines/tasks you typically do daily, give yourself a maximum of 45 seconds to decide what to do.
- For Bigger decisions that take you days or weeks to think through, use a deadline between 45mins to the end of the day.
3. Re-evaluate your to-do list
Most time, we set ourselves up for overwhelm and stress by the tasks we set up every morning.
Steps you can try out:
- Give your mind and body a healthy treat. For your mind, feed it with some positivity and uplifting details. For your body, get some exercise and then a simple healthy breakfast.
- Check your to-do list and pick one very important thing to do for the day, focus your effort on that and take short interval breaks to rest and recharge. With a relaxed mindset, you can think clearly and concentrate better.
- Avoid Cluttering your mind with too much information during your day. A sneak peek into Facebook, a click on the email notification on your phone or computer, which leads you to a website that takes you through to Instagram and before you realise you are on Pinterest and next stop Youtube (you get the idea). You need to focus on that one thing you've set to do and work on achieving the goal for that day, and then every other activity comes in.
4. Stop trying to control everything.
Sorry to burst your bubble, you are not a superhuman and trying to be in control of so many things simultaneously will burn you out faster than you might want to admit.
Most entrepreneurs fall into this pattern, and the likes of Marie Forloe and Arianna Huffington can attest to this, and they've shared lessons learnt on this.
Be kind to mind, concentrate on what is humanly favourable to control.
5. Postpone your thinking and revisit it at a good time.
Trying to think things through when you are tired, hungry or sleepy could make your mind vulnerable to unclear thinking and negativity.
So when you are tired and sleepy, and negativity can start to taint the thoughts flooding your mind, give yourself the permission to postpone those thoughts and let your mind rest, and revisit the thought in the morning when your head is clear.
It is not as easy as it sounds, but you will become good at it with consistent practice.
6. Take Time Off From Your Busy Schedule
The best way to stop thinking too much is to take time off from your busy schedule and leave your mind alone for a little bit.
It's important not to do anything that makes you think too much or triggers something bad, like drinking alcohol or drugs.
Please avoid these things when you're in the middle of an episode of overthinking because they'll make it even worse!
7. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best natural stress relievers that exists. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which improve your mood and make you feel better.
Regular exercise can also put your mind at ease by distracting you from all the other things on your mind.
8. Get Quality Sleep
If you don't sleep enough, you will become more and more vulnerable to worrying and pessimism.
As mentioned in an earlier point, when sleepy, the tendency to create negative though is increased. Sleep is one of the main factors to consider to maintain a positive mindset.
To enjoy good quality sleep:
- Sleep in a dark, cool room
- Switch off your phones, laptops, iPad an hour before bedtime
- Don't toss and turn; if sleep is not coming, wind down for another 20-30minus by readying a book.
9. Stay Present
You can replace more of the time you spend overthinking 'what could have been' or 'what will be by staying connected with the present moment.
- Take things easy and slow down so you know what is happening around you and how you use your body.
- Inform yourself about what you are doing in the present moment. Doing this stops your mind from wandering off, and you can refocus it back to the present, for example. As I'm writing this, my mind drifted a few times, and I brought myself back quickly, saying, "I'm writing right now".
Evaluate the Sources in and around your life that has the opposite or negative effect on you.
You want to spend your time with people who don't overthink things and stay off resources (books, blogs, podcasts, music and forums) that strengthen your overthinking habit.
11. Schedule Some Quiet Time Each Day
Spending a little time each day doing something that relaxes you is one of the best things you can do to reduce overthinking and increase your happiness levels.
Perhaps you could enjoy some peace while you read a book or listen to some relaxing instrumental music.
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12. Meditate To Clear Your Mind And Relieve Stress
Meditation is another great way to relieve stress and calm your mind down. This doesn't have to be anything complicated, either!
If you want, you can focus on your breathing while sitting silently for ten minutes.
13. Practice Mindfulness To Focus On Present Moment
Being more mindful is another way of focusing on the present moment to stop thinking about your problems.
This might sound difficult, but it's actually very simple! All you have to do is focus on the sensations in your body and your surroundings by taking deep breaths and truly noticing what's going on.
14. Maintain Strong Relationships With Loved Ones
Here's a simple fact: If you don't have anyone to talk to, you're far more likely to overthink things!
This is why it's important that you maintain strong relationships with people who care about you and are willing to listen whenever you feel the need to vent.
15. Stop Asking yourself the wrong questions.
Suppose you keep asking and querying yourself about why you overthink over and over. In that case, you won't identify precisely what is going on in your thoughts and life, and this will increase your overthinking habit.
It would help if you asked yourself Solution-Oriented questions that are proactive, not the ones that make you contemplate.
When you ask progressive questions to make changes in your behaviour, you will reduce overthinking and see improvement in your life.
16. Remember That You're Not Alone
Remember that you're not alone! There are millions of people who have experienced the same type of feelings as you, so keep this in mind if your brain starts telling you lies or brings up false memories about how there's no way out of whatever is on your mind.
Many people can help you through this, so never hesitate to reach out for help if the situation becomes too much!
17. Get Away From The Triggers That Make You Overthink
If you can get away from the triggers that make you overthink, it will be much easier for you to stop ruminating and move on with your life.
This might be difficult if the triggers are in your home (for example, if there's a lot of clutter and you're constantly reminded about the things that keep you in a negative mindset), but it's worth giving it a shot!
Concluding thoughts on how to stop overthinking
It’s important to know that overthinking is a vicious cycle. The more you think about something, the worse it gets and the harder it becomes to get out of your head.
In this article, we discussed how to stop thinking too much by taking time off from your busy schedule and leaving your mind alone for a little bit.
It's also important not to do anything that makes you think too much or triggers something bad like drinking alcohol or drugs when in an episode of overthinking because these things will make it even worse!
Hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to leave comments below.
September 7, 2021
September 6, 2021