Overthinking makes you restless and nervous. It keeps you awake when you want to sleep, makes you anxious, stressed, and vulnerable. If you overthink, you put a lot of energy into a process that not only brings you nothing but also makes you actively unhappy! Here are some effective tips to stop overthinking:
1) Write Down Your Thoughts
Overthinking is nothing more than a series of (annoying) thoughts that are repeated over and over again. It is as if your brain is repeating itself. You want to think about something else, but it doesn’t work. However, there is one thing that almost always helps to break this loop: writing.
Grab your journal, a notebook, or even your iPhone or iPad with your favorite journaling application and start writing. Write your thoughts and talk calmly to yourself on the paper. This will help you organize your thoughts, find out exactly what’s bothering you, and give your brain a break. Because once your brain can trust that your problems will not be forgotten (because they are written down), it can finally stop that endless loop of negative thoughts!
2) Realize That You Cannot Predict the Future
As likely as a scenario may seem in your head, the future is difficult to predict. Just when you are convinced that the dentist will have to fill in five holes tomorrow, it seems that there is nothing wrong at all during the check-up. You were overthinking for nothing. The future is flexible, even if it doesn’t seem so in your head. If you find yourself already taking a particular scenario as truth, remember it.
3) Also Consider Good Scenarios
It’s so easy to find out what can go wrong and worry about it. But have you ever thought about what could go right? In most cases, the chance of things going well is much more significant because it benefits everyone.
When you notice that your brain is in worry mode again, try short-circuiting it by thinking about everything that will go right. Not only will you feel much better, but you will also increase the chance that things will go well because you have already « rehearsed » it in your brain.
4) Regaining Control
You often worry in situations where you are powerless when you feel you have no control. Do you want to worry less? Try to regain some control; it will make you feel much better.
So once you have figured out exactly what your problem is (by discarding it), you can step towards the solution. As soon as you feel that you have the situation in your hands, you will automatically overthink less.
5) Put Your Problems in a Trash Bag
Are you in bed and can’t sleep? Then put any problem you can think of in an imaginary garbage bag, and in your mind, throw that garbage bag next to your bed (or through the window). This visualization technique can help you in many situations to clear your mind and then get a good night’s sleep.
6) Believe in a Happy Ending
Don’t try to protect yourself by assuming the worst. What do you do with that? Can you say, « I wish it would go wrong »? The person who believes that everything will be alright, sleeps well, has energy left, and feels happy. If things go wrong, the person can deal with it at that point, solve the problem as best they can, and then move on with their life.
Assuming that the bad scenario will happen will only make you have a restless night, spend a lot of energy, feel unhappy and helpless. In most cases, this is also for nothing. In cases where things go wrong, you have an ego boost (« I told you so ») but still, feel worthless. What option do you find most appealing?
7) Concentrate on Your Breathing
You can’t stop the train wreck with negative thoughts? Then concentrate on your breathing. It always works.
Inhale and exhale. Every time you breathe in, you say « in » in your head; when you breathe out, you say « out ». As soon as you notice your thoughts reappear, pay attention to your breath again. Breathe in and out, in and out, until you calm down and your thoughts are ok too.
Let us know if these few tips have helped you, and share yours with us in the comments below!