Overthinking, also, best known as creating problems that are never there. – David Sikhosana
Overthinking can be a debilitating habit.
It causes hesitation because you spend so much time evaluating your options.
You spend more time looking at your choices then actually making a choice.
Worrying is also a habit that can hold you back.
When you’re worried about the future, then you create a similar place of uncertainty for yourself.
For those who are worried about what has happened to them in the past, isolation and a negative self-view can quickly develop.
Knowing how to stop overthinking and worrying begins with how you frame each choice you make.
Are you looking to take the positive aspects that are present in each choice?
Or do you tend to look at the negative aspects of each choice, seeing yourself as a failure?
Negativity will always bring frustration.
That negative emotion will eventually wear you down and make it so you’ll never want to take any risks ever again.
It’s time to relax. It’s time to start living. You can begin that journey today by taking these steps.
#1. Give yourself a block of “worry time.”
Many people spend 15-30 minutes every day in meditation.
If you’re dealing with worry and overthinking, then give yourself a similar block of time where you can think about your problems.
Researchers from Penn State discovered in a 2011 study that people who deal with worry all day benefit with a time block of “worry time” so they can think about their problems.
It begins when you can identify what is worrying you.
Then come up with a place and a time where you can think about what has been identified as a source of worry.
During this time, try to think up a solution to the problem that has you worried.
If you catch yourself starting to worry about something outside of your “worry time,” then think of something else.
Allow the worries to come out during their designated period only.
Over time, this can begin to stop the cycle of negative thoughts that worrying tends to bring.
This allows you to stay in control of your thoughts so you’re not stuck in a place of inaction.
#2. Embrace the uncertainties of life.
Up to 70% of people who come from homes that are dealing with or have dealt with a divorce may suffer from a Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Other family environment concerns may include overprotective parents, a lack of feeling safe, and other non-nurturing factors.
This environment creates a situation where the worst-case-scenario becomes a potential reality.
You might get cancer later in life, but nothing is 100% certain.
There is not a single person on our planet who can guarantee what the future will be.
Yet for many who overthink and worry a lot, the presence of uncertainty provides a guarantee of a negative outcome.
Uncertainty doesn’t pick a side.
When people believe that a bad outcome is going to happen, they tend to create self-fulfilling prophecies which brings that negativity to life.
This doesn’t mean the fear of a negative outcome won’t still be present.
That fear can cause anxiety on its own.
You must take away the power of that thought so you’re not left in a world of worry.
You can do that by creating a “reverse mantra.”
Mantras are used in meditation and other spiritual practices as a type of affirmation.
With enough repetition, you can build a positive foundation of support for yourself.
If you say, “I will be successful” repetitively, it becomes a thought that you believe.
You can do the same thing, but in reverse, to take the power away from whatever is causing you to worry.
“I might die of cancer,” for example, will cause the thought to lose its power over you if repeated enough.
#3. Challenge yourself.
Once those negative thoughts begin to take hold, it can be difficult to make them let go.
That makes it very easy to get carried away with those thoughts.
You begin to imagine different negative outcomes happening.
Then your mind begins to simulate what happens after these fantasy events, which can trigger even more worries.
Then you begin to think the “What Ifs.”
What if I don’t get that promotion I’m working so hard for right now?
What if my spouse decides to leave me for someone else?
What if something happens to my kids at school today?
Each of those thoughts can spiral into a place where you decide the best solution is to avoid creating that scenario in the first place.
You give up on the promotion because it’s not worth the risk of failure.
You might believe that one mistake made will cause your spouse to leave.
You stop taking the kids to school because you want them to be protected.
We cannot change the “What Ifs” in life.
What we can control is how we react to them.
If you start asking questions like these, it is important to challenge your negative thoughts and simulations.
Most of these thoughts are over-exaggerated and will never come true.
They feel like they will come true because the positive has been filtered out of the scenario.
By focusing on the worst-case scenario, the ability to establish a realistic outlook disappears.
Challenge each thought so that includes positive and negative components and this will help to eliminate worry and overthinking.
#4. Be willing to forgive yourself.
Most people have a brain that is wired to over-think and worry about stuff.
It’s a natural tendency because of how thoughts and memories are woven together.
Because the average person doesn’t compartmentalize these mental files, all it takes is one stressful trigger to initiate a cascade of worry.
Something as simple as a bad mood can be enough to initiate this cascade.
Once that occurs, racing thoughts can fester negativity, causing that person to begin worrying and overthinking virtually everything.
This causes the mind to draw connections to negative events that may not have any connection at all.
Here’s an example: you just missed a deadline at work.
This causes you to remember the time 6 years ago when you attended the funeral of a close friend.
Then you think of the time when someone rear-ended you at a stoplight and totaled your car.
Your brain sees links between these events because of the cascade energy that is created.
That is why it is so important to be willing to forgive yourself.
If you see yourself as being “not good enough,” then you will always be trapped in a cycle of worry and overthinking.
This is the judgement that you place on yourself.
You will create a reality that proves you are not good enough.
Go find a comfortable place. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that “I am enough.”
Then exhale and say, “I forgive myself.”
Do this several times, allowing your body to relax.
A natural response to self-forgiveness is for your inner judge to bring forth every other potential “wrong” you’ve ever done. That’s okay.
Take the time to forgive yourself for these items as well.
Make the choice to accept peace instead of guilt.
#5. Write instead of texting or talking.
Before smartphones, computers, and the Internet, one of the most common methods of communication that people had was writing letters.
You could pick up the telephone to call someone for a quick conversation, but the power of a letter was always known.
Letters of the past tell us stories of romance and tragedy.
Even if you don’t know the people involved, reading a letter can help you see the emotional energies that are put into each letter, word, and sentence.
It is an energy that we no longer embrace as we once did, settling for short texts and quick emails instead.
Writing allows us to organize our thoughts in a way where the intent of our expression can be clearly communicated.
It forces us to consider our perspective and the perspective of the letter’s recipient to create accuracy.
In return, there is less uncertainty about how the other person will respond.
There is less discomfort. This creates less worrying and overthinking.
There will be times when talking is more important than typing or writing.
The issue that “talking it out” causes, however, is that it can create mutual stress.
If you’re overthinking things and worrying about future outcomes, talking about that situation will often increase this issue and cause it to spread to the other person who is listening to you.
We are often more confident in our ability to communicate through writing instead of speaking.
You can write at any time because your paper or your word processing software can listen too.
You can start by sending out a full text instead of a few words.
Expand the idea to write out a real letter to someone and send it to them in the mail.
Write a letter via email to send it to someone instead of sending a text if you prefer.
#6. Go get some exercise.
Being able to stop overthinking and worrying about things requires you to funnel energy away from those efforts.
One of the most effective ways to calm the physical body is to expel the excess energy that it has.
If you’re feeling tired, you’re less likely to overthink something or begin worrying about what might happen tomorrow.
That is why including a period of exercise into your daily routine can be very beneficial.
Something as simple as a quick walk around the neighborhood can be enough to expel the extra energy you have.
Exercise also helps to relieve stress and gives you an opportunity to organize your thoughts in a positive way.
Anything that gets you active is going to provide you with a benefit in this area.
You could go to the park to play with your kids.
You might take the dog out to the dog park.
Participating in organized sports, joining a Yoga class, or working with an exercise tape in your living room will all provide the same potential benefit.
To get the maximum benefit from your exercise efforts, try to incorporate concepts from mindfulness into your activity.
If you decide to walk or run, then focus on the sensation of your foot hitting the ground with each step.
Pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing.
Notice how your skin feels when the wind hits it.
#7. Embrace a new hobby.
When you can stimulate the mind, then the brain begins to redirect the energy it has from obsessing about specific thoughts or worries toward the new activity.
Any new game can be an excellent diversion.
Even video games can provide a positive benefit.
Non-competitive games tend to provide the best results.
Look for puzzle games, crosswords, and card games for the best results.
You can also take up a new creative endeavor to reduce overthinking and worrying.
Making art, taking up a new craft, or even deciding to read one new book per week is enough to put a stop to the negative energy.
New hobbies will help you to build new relationship connections.
It may help you be able to discover a hidden talent you never knew about.
#8. Understand that there are no “wrong” decisions.
Overthinking and worrying tend to occur because of the lines that we draw in the sand.
We each have our own definition of morality.
If we feel like we’ve crossed the line, then guilt and shame are produced.
We don’t want to approach that line and experience those difficult emotions, so we create routines that avoid the line in the sand altogether.
This creates a certain pressure to “conform” to specific standards that have been self-defined.
To stop overthinking and worrying, that pressure must be minimized or eliminated.
There are certain moral standards that are defined by mutual humanity and the laws we create.
For this purpose, these standards are a reference to the self-imposed standards we create for ourselves.
Every experience that you have is the experience you need to have in that very moment.
Sometimes that may lead to painful lessons in the future.
It can also lead to incredible experiences that you may wish to repeat.
The most painful of lessons you encounter is not as painful as constantly living in fear.
Life is always going to involve some level of risk.
Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow of life and see where it leads, in both the good and the bad.
Let go of the idea of avoiding “wrong” and instead follow your journey.
You never know where it may lead.
#9. Create a network of social support.
Ever been around a good friend or a close loved one and felt better, even though you may have not said a word?
Our social connections allow us to stop confining each decision or worry to our self-imposed biases and perspectives.
Just the presence of someone else changes how we utilize our mental filters.
Creating a network of social support means finding a place where you can seek out meaningful advice if needed.
Unfortunately, what typically happens during the creation of this network is a period of frustrated venting to it.
You’ve had a bad day. You want to tell someone about it.
That way the heavy burden can be lifted from your chest… and placed firmly on the person who is listening to you.
When you seek out advice, you stop worrying and overthinking about what you’ll need to do because you’re gaining new perspectives.
Each person has a unique perspective of a situation because of their experiences and knowledge.
Your family and friends can give you a new angle to look at that you may have never considered before.
Leaning on others is an effective way to begin to grow emotionally.
It supports spiritual growth as well.
In return, you’ll also find that your focus is less on worry and more on finding meaningful advice from someone you love.
#10. Serve first before seeking out your own solution.
We all have problems that we face every day. Some are real. Some are perceived
These problems can become so consuming that you create a separate universe where you live.
This separation feels like a meaningful solution to stop overthinking and worrying because it provides a barrier against the problems being faced.
That barrier won’t stop a problem. It causes you to lose sight of reality instead.
If you’re unsure of what you can do to solve your own problems, then shift the focus.
Serve someone else instead of trying to serve yourself.
By helping someone else, you can put your issues into a proper order. It offers perspective.
You can see once again that we will all go through difficult times.
Some people go through more difficult moments than we may ever know.
When was the last time you had to walk 6 kilometers for fresh water?
Or when was the last time you only had one meal during the day?
These questions are often asked to inspire guilt and shame so that you’ll be inspired into action.
That is not the purpose here. Your struggles should never be discounted.
They are important to you, which makes them important to the universe.
The goal here is to establish balance.
When you can provide an extra meal to someone in need or support clean water resources, you are working to restore the harmony of your world, their world, and our planet in general.
This harmony shows you that there are greater things to fear than what you are thinking about.
By taking actionable steps to resolve the fear of someone else, you’re able to build the foundations of doing the same thing for your own problems.
#11. Set a specific time limit for yourself.
When people are up against a tight deadline, they are more motivated to work.
Deadlines inspire creativity, provide energy, and allow the mind to make clear, positive decisions.
Without a deadline, it becomes much easier to put things off.
Why work on something that is due in 2 weeks right now?
The same process applies to how the brain tends to worry and overthink matters.
If there isn’t a deadline which needs to be met, then it is easier to let the negative energy fester instead of deciding and moving forward.
Most decisions shouldn’t require a lot of your time.
That’s not to say it isn’t important to take some time to think through a difficult decision. It is.
It is also important to make sure you don’t allow for that decision to be postponed indefinitely.
Set a specific deadline where you force yourself to make that decision.
Reward yourself for making a decision on time.
Make it a meaningful reward, like going out to a favorite restaurant or going on a trip to a favorite location for a day.
If you go past the deadline, then that is evidence that you’re spending too much time thinking about things.
This will help you become focused on the actions that need to be taken.
If you want to create change and stop worrying about things, then you need to take an action to do so.
It sounds simple, but most people never really take that first step.
Think about what decisions need to be made today.
Then set a specific deadline and act.
You can do something today to meet your goals. It can start right now.
#12. Establish a daily time of meditation.
Many of the ways to stop overthinking and worrying involve concepts that have been adapted from the various meditation practices that exist.
Because of this, it is often helpful to establish a time of daily meditation if you have not done so already.
If you are already meditating, then consider adding a time of positive thoughts, prayer, or reflection to your routine.
Meditation is proven to reduce stress.
It improves concentration and encourages a healthy lifestyle.
Most importantly, it increases a person’s self-awareness.
Many instances of overthinking or worrying about something are fueled by a lack of self-awareness.
Instead of living life defined by a personal definition of self, lives are lived based on the observations and reflections that other people provide.
Instead of working hard to gain the approval of others, incorporate meditation to gain the approval of yourself.
This allows you to focus on the present.
In the present, the future doesn’t have a worry to offer.
The past doesn’t provide an opportunity to overthink the decisions which have already been made.
You only have right now. What can you do in this one moment?
Over time, meditation can provide many physical, mental, and emotional benefits that go beyond self-acceptance and stress reduction.
You can support immune health, slow the effects of aging, and even improve the resilience of the brain.
If you aren’t meditating at all, try adding a 5- to 10-minute period of meditation to your daily routine.
Focus on implementation as your goal.
When you can become consistent with your time in meditation, then expand it to 20 minutes per day.
#13. Be spontaneous.
If you’re worrying about things or overthinking a decision, then sometimes the best solution is to change the environment.
Being spontaneous is a fantastic way to alter your perspective.
We often stop being spontaneous because of our perceived responsibilities.
There is a job we need to manage.
We might have family duties that might be fulfilled.
You’ll go to baseball practice with the kids, but you won’t go do something for yourself.
Spontaneity is often treated as a complex action, but it is quite simple.
You can be spontaneous by trying a new food.
You can try watching a new TV show.
You could sign up for a gym membership.
As long as the decision you make takes you out of your comfort zone, you are being spontaneous.
This allows you to experience a different way of thinking.
Being more spontaneous can also be helpful in meeting new people and forming social connections.
It allows you to build your confidence so that actionable decisions can be made with repetition.
Spontaneity also improves the speed of activity in the brain as new neural pathways are formed.
#14. Embrace the worry.
Worrying can be problematic.
It can also be quite healthy when embraced in moderation.
People who tend to have a worried state of mind are aware of potentially threatening situations compared to those who do not worry.
This awareness allows you to analyze more problems, develop meaningful solutions, and carve out the best life possible.
Overthinking and worry also tend to enhance the learning abilities of the brain.
Stress may create cortisol, but it also stimulates adrenaline production.
That hormone combination causes the brain to become hyper-focused on the task at-hand.
This allows you to absorb and retain new information with greater accuracy.
This is particularly true for information that is language-based.
If you’re reading this right now and feel a little worried, you’re in a better position to comprehend what is being offered and see how it can apply directly to your life in some way.
It is even possible that those who overthink and worry a lot are able to consider the future and the past in a greater detail, leading to comprehensive decision-making in the present moment.
Being in a worried state of mind can also provide motivation.
When it is in control, worry can be the foundation of a thoughtful self-evaluation.
How Can You Stop Overthinking and Worrying Today?
There are many reasons to worry about worrying and overthinking.
It can create anguish, loneliness, and stop you from achieving the success you want to see in life.
Overthinking and worrying can be helpful in moderation.
When it feels like you’re out of control, then it is time to begin making changes to regain that control.
That balance will help you relax and start living once again.
Each person is a little different.
Don’t judge your progress based on what you see in others.
Look for forward momentum in your own life instead.
Concentrate on taking the next step forward.
How do you manage overthinking and worry in your own life?
We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap. – Anthony Hopkins
Katarzyna Białasiewicz © 123RF.com