SELF Self-Care

6 Ways to Stop Overthinking

how to stop overthinking things

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Y’all, I’m a huge overthinker – have been for years – for as long as I can remember, actually. There’s never been a time in my life where overthinking has been a positive experience for me. Typically, something negative happens in my life, and I think ways I could have gone about it differently. Or, something hasn’t even happened yet, and I’m already over-thinking and getting anxiety about different ways it will play out. Sometimes my overthinking is so paralyzing that it totally consumes me.

overthinking

How to Stop Overthinking: 6 Ways to Limit or stop obsessive thought Cycles

Since overthinking always seems to get me in a negative headspace, I’ve been trying to find ways to stop myself from getting sucked in. It’s one of those habits that you’ve got to be proactive in fighting or else you’ll find yourself worrying about things that truly don’t deserve your energy or attention. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been prone to overthinking things and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become passionate in learning ways to combat obsessive thoughts (especially overanalyzing) that don’t really get me anywhere. Here are 6 ways I’ve been helping to prevent it, or stopping it as soon as possible.

1. Be mindful of your thoughts

If you’re an overthinker like me, it’s not totally your fault – it’s a natural tendency of the mind to overthink. But it’s something totally controllable through practicing mindfulness, doing meditation, and just taking an overall step back to really gain perspective. It took me awhile to understand how to do this, but with some practice and dedication, you can actually observe and control your thoughts rather than getting caught up in them within your own mind. If I’m having an overthinking moment, it’s really helpful for me to listen to the way I’m spiraling with my own self-talk. In these moments, I try to take a step back, and even actually talk back to myself (in my head if other people are around!), to challenge those thoughts. I talk more about that in this article. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of the time, the things that stress us out the most are the unrealistic expectations and pressure we put on ourselves.

2. Use a journal to self-reflect

It’s so much easier to assess and digest your thoughts when you actually write them down – something about that pen hitting the paper forces your mind to slow down and process your thoughts better. This is why I recommend journaling when you’re taking time to self-reflect. When you keep thoughts just in your head, you’re prone to overthinking and spiraling into that negative headspace. Lingering thoughts swimming around in my mind usually also cause me to over-analyze and make a bigger deal out of something than it really is. Or, enter the brain dump.

3. Find a distraction

I’ve come to terms with that fact that I’m going to worry, stress, and over-think – it’s never going to escape me completely, nor any of us (or if so, I’m freakin’ jealous). But finding a distraction always helps me with over-thinking, because when I’m busy and engulfed in what I’m doing, I simply don’t have time to overthink things. But I’ve found that I also have to have time where I let my mind go crazy. The trick here is limiting that time so I don’t overdo it. When I’m self-reflecting for 20 minutes each night, I let myself feel all the feels – I worry, I stress, and I mull over whatever is stuck in my mind. Then, when my self-reflection time is up, I move onto something more productive – usually sleep! When you notice yourself overthinking things during the day, remind yourself that you can deal with those thoughts later on. This trick has really seemed to help with my overthinking.

4. Focus on the now

We’ve all heard the phrase “it is what it is” – it’s true, there are some things you just aren’t going to be able to change. Instead of focusing on what just happened a few minutes ago, what you could have done differently, or even what you can do in the future, just focus on the now. What can you do in this very moment, however big or small? You have control over the present moment, not the past or future. By living in the present and focusing more on the “now,” you’ll halt your overthinking muscle – which usually turns on when you’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

5. Trust and be true to yourself

Sometimes I wonder if the reason I overthink so much has to do with a deep-seeded fear that maybe I don’t trust myself. Am I fair for thinking what I’m thinking? Right for feeling what I’m feeling? Is my opinion going to be valued and respected? These are all things I ask myself when I’m overthinking. I’ve had to learn to accept my thoughts and feelings for what they are, regardless of how I think others will perceive me. Staying true to yourself and trusting your instincts will prevent you from over-thinking things as often.

6. Don’t worry about making a bad decision

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the choices we have to make on a daily basis. You can (literally) spend an entire day worrying if you made the wrong choice, and don’t get me wrong, making bad decisions and realizing it later is never fun. If you find that you’ve made a wrong decision, just know that mistakes are also opportunities for growth. Making a “wrong” decision is like steering a boat in the wrong direction but learning how to sail – it might not be where you wanted to go, but the journey is going to teach you a lot, and eventually you’ll end up back on track exactly where you’re meant to be. Being comfortable with being wrong, or making bad decisions from time to time, brings me peace in a weird way. I know that in the end, I was supposed to make that decision and be where I am for a reason.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Sushma
    November 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Loved this post Brighton! Super helpful :)

  • Reply
    Mia
    October 31, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    This post was written for me! I’m a HUGE overthinker and overanalyzer. I love the idea of self-reflecting for a certain amount of time, and then once the time is up, moving on to something else completely! Forgoing perfectionism tendencies is a challenge, but I need to work on not worrying about making bad decisions. Thank you for this post!

    Mia | http://www.verymuchmia.com

    • Reply
      Sushma M
      November 4, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      I love your blog Mia.. Can’t believe you achieved so much at 17. I couldn’t find an option to leave comments or follow your blog for some reason.
      – Sushma | http://www.spunkyreads.com

  • Reply
    Abbey Gatlin
    October 31, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I needed this right now. Just two days ago I created a going away dinner for myself and invited around 20 gals. As soon as I saw two gals RSVP ‘not going’, I started thinking “no one is going to come…no one cares that you’re leaving…why did you pick a Japanese restaurant for your dinner, not everyone likes Japanese…you should just cancel” So on and so forth. But, I also need to realize that a Sunday evening isn’t necessarily a good time for everyone, and that I should focus on the people that do come and have a nice time. Once those thoughts got into my head it consumed my mind. This will help me, and I’m def going to Journal today that I am important and that I matter, and just because people don’t attend doesn’t mean they dislike me or find me annoying (or if they do, well…I’m moving and don’t have to keep in touch with them, haha). Thank you, Brighton. ❤️

  • Reply
    Natali
    October 31, 2017 at 3:22 am

    I always have hard times to stop overthinking… I get myself all stressed out and worried even before anything has happened or there is something to worry about… It’s such a bad trigger for bad things to happen or have a “shadowed” perception of what the real situation is.
    Thank you for writing this great post, I needed a reminder and a small guide. :)

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  • Reply
    Gabe Cash
    October 31, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Very useful techniques, many of which I already use myself! I would say the two most important steps are to take a step back and to journal. Both of these techniques will lay your thoughts out in front of you and this can be extremely helpful when it comes to realizing that you have these thoughts, but you don’t need to become them.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    October 30, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for this, I am def an overthinker. It can have its good points but it def causes a lot of stress as I analyse any and all situations. Thanks for this and esp for the encouragement to get back to journaling :)

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