Is it too much? It isn’t, right?
And there you go again down the rabbit hole of overthinking.
You don’t want to be that way. Yet, somehow, you spend hours trying to decide between one thing or the other or replaying something someone said in your head.
Well, it turns out that you’re not the only one.
A study found that 73 percent of people between 25 and 35 years old overthink. Also, 52 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 55 overthink too.
Therefore, as you read this, you might not realize yet you’re an overthinker.
So, before we get to how to stop overthinking, let’s see if you’re actually an overthinker.
How to Stop Overthinking?
How to know if you’re overthinking
Most overthinkers share common behaviors in similar situations. You could be an overthinker yourself if you:
- take too much time taking simple decision (i.e. if you should by a pair of shoes or not)
- are indecisive
- replay scenarios in your head over and over
- have constant negative thoughts
- need to find the pros and cons of everything – even if it’s a simple situation
- have a negative vision of the future
- get too stressed or anxious when you have to make a decision
- do obsessive thinking or ruminate
Overthinking, Procrastinating and Anxiety
There is an undeniable link between overthinking, procrastinating, and anxiety.
You see, if you’re an overthinker, you’re more likely to procrastinate. As a result, if you procrastinate, you end up being anxious.
Yet, this can happen the other way around too.
For example, if you’re an anxious person, you’ll probably overthink things. In the end, this will result in procrastination.
As you can see, overthinking can trap you in an endless toxic cycle that will trap you if you don’t do anything about it.
Why do people overthink?
There are different reasons behind overthinking. Some of them are:
- lack of confidence
- self-esteem problems
- result of a trauma
- the need to feel in control
- fear of conflict
5 Ways Stop Overthinking
1. Distract your mind
Your mind works more simply than you think. In most cases, when something is on your mind the easiest and simplest way to get it out is to distract yourself. In fact, psychology professor Mathew Tull states:
Yet, don’t drag your distractions too long. A distraction is only a temporary solution. As with any mental health problem, you should find the underlying reason for your problem.
However, a little short distraction won’t harm you.
Some things you can do to distract yourself and stop overthinking are:
- watch an episode of a TV series
- describe in a loud voice what’s around you
- start singing out loud
- watch a funny video
- solve a math problem
- play with a rubik’s cube
2. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is perfect for slowing down. In fact, it is helpful for different mental health problems since it involves being grounded at the present moment. To be precise, mindfulness is:
A lot of your overthinking has to do with things from the past or the future.
In this case, practicing mindfulness helps you to get your mind off both. This way, instead of getting caught up in a spiral of past actions or what if’s, you shift your focus to the present.
There are different ways you can practice mindfulness like meditation or journaling. For example, Headspace is a company with podcasts and videos that can guide you through your meditation process.
Mindfulness in action
If you prefer to read your way through your meditation section you can try the book Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday by Mathew Sockolove.
3. Put your thoughts into perspective
Overthinking is something that might come to you as natural as breathing.
You might not even notice it!
Yet, to stop overthinking not only do you need to become aware of it, but you need to question the reason for your thoughts.
In other words, when you find yourself overthinking, you need to find the why behind it.
- Are you avoiding conflict?
- Did you do something wrong?
- Are you trying to make things “perfect”?
- Are you trying to be in control of everything?
- Do you lack confidence and self-esteem?
- Do you feel stressed or anxious?
These questions should guide you to know what’s really causing you to overthink. Also, as part of this self-discovery process, you should identify and understand your triggers.
For example, if your overthinking has to do with conflict avoidance, then it means things like arguments, stating your point, and saying no can be triggering for you.
Similarly, after finding your why, you should proceed to find the daily situations that can be a trigger for you so you can work on them.
4. Take action now
One of the negative consequences of overthinking is that it keeps you stuck.
In other words, when you’re overthinking too much, you’re so caught up in your thoughts, that you won’t act. Therefore, to stop overthinking, you need to take action.
For example, you might be overthinking about starting a new project that was assigned to you.
You have your first opportunity to start working on it. Yet, instead of getting to work, you get caught up in a tornado of thoughts:
Will I do it right?
Is this the best way to do it?
Should I do it this way or that way?
My coworker should be helping me with this.
How can I finish this on time?
Why was this assigned to me and not to my coworker?
That way, one thought leads to the other, and without knowing you’ve lost your time and spent your energy on insignificant thoughts and worries.
To stop overthinking you need to dive right away into planning…
like physical-agenda-type planning.
Of course, that is if the situation calls for it.
Yet, don’t get too comfortable in the planning phase because the most important thing is to put your plan into action.
Yes, to stop overthinking, you need to take action.
“People are least interested in your plans and strategies, they are interested in results.”
― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words
5. Work on your self-esteem and confidence
The chances are that if you struggle with overthinking, you have problems with self-esteem and confidence.
But, if you want to stop overthinking, you need to improve both of them.
Confidence and self-esteem are important to help you make decisions. When you’re confident, you make decisions faster and easier. Also, stand tall on your decisions, keeping doubts away.
Some ways to boost your confidence are:
- practicing self-care and self-love
- learning and developing new skills
- being assertive
- shutting down your inner critic
- accepting mistakes as learning experiences
- being kind to yourself
Either if you need to start a project or decide which brand of butter you should buy, instead of overthinking, take action.
What’s important to stop overthinking?
Overthinking is something that can consume a lot of your time. Also, it can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed, and anxious.
Overthinking can stop you from taking action when needed.
Therefore, you need to do something about it. You can do this by distracting yourself, practicing mindfulness, putting your thoughts into perspective, or improving your self-esteem.
Finally, you should dare to take action even if you don’t feel ready or confident about your decision
Your process doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, overthinking is something you can work on little by little until you can choose between one thing and the other without a second thought.