Overthinking can hinder us in more ways than one. It can lead to procrastination, self-doubt, and unfortunately, throwing in the towel. As a chronic overthinker, I’ve assumed the worst in so many situations; social, professional – you name it. If there was any overthinking to be had, I tossed it back and had two too many. It was holding me back from getting work done, taking risks and so, so much more. I think we can all agree that overthinking rarely brings anything good.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to think about certain situations but overthinking and over-analyzing situations just causes us to question ourselves and sometimes everybody and everything around us. Really, it’s paranoia.
My particular brand of overthinking has no bounds and I knew I had to curb it. I had to. I knew it was part of my anxiety so I started working on the problem there. Out of everything I tried, (and, I tried A LOT), there were only a few things that actually worked. Figured I’d share so if somebody else out there is beating their head against the wall due to their own overthinking, maybe these tips can help:
Tips to Curb Your Overthinking that Work for Me
1. Be Able to Recognize when you’re Doing it
Okay, so I have a technique to recognize when I’m overthinking and I think it’s worked out pretty well.
When thinking about a certain topic, person, activity, upcoming event, conversation, work-related activity, work in general, etc, consider this:
- The amount of time I’ve been thinking about it (Any longer than 15 minutes for something that isn’t all-that-important IS OVERTHINKING).
- Am I Focusing on the same thought over and over again? (If it’s YES, you’re likely OVERTHINKING).
- Is there actually anything I can do about it? (Ruminating on something you cannot change could be OVERTHINKING. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t control.)
Those 3 realizations can help you see if you’re overthinking or not. At least, they’ve worked for me. If you’re thinking about something for longer than 15 minutes, (especially something like a conversation, an upcoming activity, etc, you’re probably overthinking it and dedicating way too much time to it.) Focusing on the same thought repeatedly is also probably overthinking. Lastly, if you keep thinking about something you can’t do a damn thing about – you’re overthinking it.
2. Find Good Distractions
Normally, I don’t advocate for distractions but in this case, it does do the trick. However, focus on good distractions.
Some examples of good distractions:
- Exercise (Any type will do, just get moving)
- Playing with a Pet
- Reading something interesting
- Write/Sketch/Paint – ANY creative outlet will do
- Chat with a Friend (NOT about your overthinking though)
- Listen to a good podcast
If it’s really nagging at you and you can’t sleep, there’s also nothing wrong with putting on a movie or a TV show if it’ll help you. This does work for some people. Whatever you need to do to get your thoughts off of repeat – (in moderation, of course), do it.
3. Try to Live More in the NOW
I know, this is a tough one, and while I do believe in making plans and looking forward to goals, something it is best to just be PRESENT. Breath. Meditate. Go on a nice walk.
And, I cannot stress this enough: STOP SCROLLING SOCIAL MEDIA. Put your phone down altogether and get away from it.
4. Question The Validity of Your Thoughts
This is the tip that tends to put a screeching stop to my overthinking. It’s so simple, yet so many of us forget to do this. How valid are the thoughts you’re overthinking? Does anybody else really care or is it just you? Seriously, it’s probably just you.
Are you focused on WCS, (worst-case-scenario)? Is that scenario even logical? Are your thoughts just jumping around, bouncing off of one another creating entire new streams of thought that make no sense?
SERIOUSLY, question your overthinking. Stand up to it. Most of the time when we are overthinking, we’re doing it because of anxiety. ALWAYS question whether or not your overthinking is valid or has any place in reality at all. Once you do this, you may be surprised at how quickly you can stop those reoccurring thoughts and get back to living life, (and sleeping when you’re supposed to).
Overthinking Hinders Us. Do Your Best To Curb Those Thoughts Using Distractions, Asking Questions, Being More Present And Being Able to Tell When You’re Overthinking.
We’ve all overthought something at one point or another. Chronic overthinking will only hinder your ability to get done what needs to be done. Always questions those ruminating thoughts and how valid they really are. You’ve got this!