Scientifically speaking, we, women tend to overthink because we can’t help it. We have a predisposition to overanalyzing any unfamiliar situation or event. Researchers at Amens Clinic in California concluded in their studies that our brains are “significantly more active” than men’s brains.
We lose on average 2-4 hours every night due to overthinking. Two years ago, that 2-4 hours of lost sleep turned into only 2-4 hours of sleep at all.
November of 2017 my brother passed away suddenly in Stone Mountain, GA exactly one month before his 50th birthday. Three months later, my father passed away 2 weeks after his 74th birthday in Atlanta. The pain was immeasurable, and I just couldn’t get past feeling alone.
After the funerals were over and everyone got back to their daily lives again, I wasn’t sleeping at all. This was terrible for not only mental and emotional health but physically as well. I started writing to help with the grief which led to researching death and dealing with loss.
I soon started on a search to find out how to stop overthinking. My research has taken me across multiple publications, hypnotherapy, hundreds of dollars in books, studying various religions, you name it, I tried it.
But before you can work on ‘HOW’ to stop overthinking, you first need to understand the ‘WHY’.
We overthink because of anxiety over things that we cannot control and fear from not taking action on the things that we can control. Some of us create problems that don’t even exist. Then there are those of us who live with regret over things said or unsaid, things we should’ve done or should not have done, things that didn’t go our way.
I se people all the time who let negativity and self-doubt creep in and overwhelm them to the point that it causes us mental, emotional, and physical illnesses. Often, we allow it to destroy interpersonal relationships.
Now, let’s get into the tried-and-true methods that have enabled me to be able to get back to sleep and feel sane again. Shall we?
- Journaling. I decided one night to start writing down the things that were still on my mind from that day. I wrote down anything I feel I failed at, things that went wrong, things that were great. Your successes can keep you up at night just like the negative things. I did this for several weeks and started noticing I was actually starting to sleep. I was putting pen to paper and getting it all out of my system before my head hit the pillow. And in doing this I also made a promise to myself that after I wrote it in my journal, I would not give it any more attention. I took away its power over me.
- Gratitude. Start every day by writing down 3 things you’re grateful for before your feet even hit the floor. I also write down 3 things I’m grateful for at the end of the day as well. You can use a gratitude journal, write it in your daily planner, use a notebook, or even put it in your phone’s notes app.
- To do list. At the end of your workday, make a list of things you need to do the following day. Write down any questions that you need to ask and who you need to ask. If there’s research to be done, write it down. Do the same at night for your home life. Write it down. Don’t be so arrogant to think that you can remember everything because you can’t. If you could, you’d be reading a fashion, travel, or makeup blog right now.
- Avoid triggers. For this one to work, you have to come to a deeper level of understanding about your overthinking and anxiety. Pay close attention to your thought processes. When you notice things, thoughts, and situations that cause you anxiety, write them down in a journal. Periodically, go back through and read them and reflect on those situations. You’ll begin to understand yourself in a way that you never thought you would. In time, you’ll:
- understand these situations better
- learn how to deal with them better
- avoid doing the things that trigger your anxiety
- figure out how to fight the negativity with positivity and understanding
- Positive Affirmations. If you’re looking for an excellent resource for finding positive affirmations and exercises to help you create positive change, I suggest The Law of Attraction by Katherine Hurst. You can also use the following daily affirmations when you feel the anxiety of overthinking come on.
- “I have the power to decide what I will think about. My thoughts do not control me.”
- “Right now, I release my obsessive thoughts and let them go.”
- “I refuse to allow my imagination to show me disastrous futures.”
- “We all live in the present moment and appreciate the beauty of what’s happening now.”
- “I am more than my negative thoughts. I can and will be happy.
- Live in the now. Once you go through the first five items on this list, this one is the easiest. The most important thing I learned from all of this is that I must live for today. I can’t worry about tomorrow, the next day, 3 months from now, or even a year from now. We have to treat every single day like it’s your last and there is no tomorrow. If you have kids or a spouse, remember how much of your time you’re giving back to them by taking care of yourself. Your health is so important not only to your survival and well-being but there’s as well. Go on vacation. Get yourself a change of scenery. Experience a new hobby or get back to an old hobby. Do something for yourself that makes you happy.
Well, friends, I’ve given you the information and resources that have helped give me a piece of my life back. I hope that my writing has inspired you to take control of your mental and emotional health. You deserve a life of enlightenment and fulfillment. You just have to make it happen.
I wish you love, light, and a restful night’s sleep.