TIPS TO STOP OVER-THINKING OR OBSESSING
PHOTO: African Sunset in Etoisha
Overthinking or obsessing about things seems to transport me to “the crabby place”. I’ve been trying to find ways to stop myself from careening into it. It’s one of those habits that you’ve got to be proactive in fighting or you find yourself worrying about things that truly don’t deserve either your energy or time. Like I said….. I’ve always been prone to overthinking things and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become obsessed with learning ways to combat obsessive thoughts (specifically over analyzing) that don’t really solve any concerns. Here are some small ways I’ve been trying to prevent it, or stamp it out altogether.
1. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR THOUGHTS:
If you’re an over thinker like I am, it’s not totally your fault – it’s a natural tendency of the mind to overthink. But it’s something totally controllable through awareness, doing meditation, and just taking a step back to gain perspective. It took me awhile to get this down, but with some practice and patience, you can actually observe and control your thoughts rather than getting caught up in them. If I’m having an overthinking moment, it’s really helpful for me to listen to the way I’m spiraling with my own “head chatter”. 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. Ughhhh!
2. WRITE IT DOWN:
It’s so much easier to assess and digest your thoughts when you write them down – something about that pen hitting the paper forces your mind to slow down and process your thoughts. This is why I recommend using a Journal when you’re taking time to self-reflect. When you keep thoughts in your head, you’re prone to overthinking and spiraling into that negative space. Lingering thoughts swimming around in my mind also cause me to over-analyze and make a bigger deal out of something than it really is. This is where our “Brain Dump” comes in, right?
I’ve come to terms with the 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 a little jealous). Finding a distraction helps me with over-thinking, because when I’m busy and engaged 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. I find this is a slippery slope! When I’m reflecting on my day each night, I let myself feel all the feels – I worry, I stress, and I mull over whatever is on “replay”. 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 one little hack has really been helpful.
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 reflex – which normally turns on when you’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
5. BE TRUE TO YOU:
Sometimes I wonder if the reason I overthink so much has to do with a deep-seeded fear that maybe I don’t trust my judgement. Ridiculous! You’ve got this…..you know what you are doing. I think we have to accept whatever we are feeling at the moment, regardless of how others will perceive us. Be true to yourself and trusting your instincts will prevent you from over-thinking things as often.
6. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE BAD DECISION:
It’s so easy to get caught up the 8 zillion 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 upon track and 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 strange way. I know that in the end, I was supposed to make that decision and be where I am for a reason.
Are you an overthinker? Obsess over every little aspect of your day? What tips or tricks do you use to combat this time-waster? I’d love to know.