Overthinking may seem like a regular or daily habit. However, it can become a severe problem that can bring some harmful consequences. Many people who go through rough phases of life wonder how to stop overthinking or to let go of disturbing thoughts. Experts who comment on how to stop overthinking tell that anxiety and stress can be an underlying cause of this habit or symptom of some other problem. Overthinking can take a toll on a person’s daily life and disturb cognitive abilities as well. It can cause mental fatigue, and it even comes under prominent signs of depression. It can affect the mental as well as the physical well-being of a person. The question of how to not overthink looms over the mind then.
There are some thoughts and conversations that keep a person in the loop of thoughts. This repetitive thinking is nothing but overthinking, which can even take a person by surprise. It may overwhelm a person with a sudden rush of many emotions such as nervousness, irritation, guilt, anger, etc. A person then starts chasing the mind over how to not overthink and keep the mind calm. It is now to sit back and relax and finally understand how to stop overthinking. These tips will also help reduce stress and anxiety as overthinking is a symptom of both. Here are some ways which may make a person aware of how to stop overthinking-
Table of Contents
1. Know When You Feel Triggered
It is seen that the human brain produces thousands of different thoughts, memories, and associations almost every single day. Most of these thoughts do not hold any relevance, and they come and go without even noticing. However, some thoughts catch our attention and give rise to overthinking. These thoughts of overthinking are called ‘trigger thoughts’ in metacognitive therapy. If one pays enough attention, overthinking can bring an explosion of emotions and bodily sensations.
Some thoughts such as an exciting upcoming project, meeting a friend, going on a vacation can bring warmth and joy. Other trigger thoughts which can produce overthinking might activate a long series of further thoughts that can develop ruminations. Worries such as “what if i am not able to do that?” However, these thoughts are normal. Overthinking becomes a problem when a person stays in extensive rumination or worry. The more time spent on the thought, the more intense the problem of overthinking becomes. Experts advise that identifying these thoughts and not indulging too much in them is the answer to how to stop overthinking.
2. Take Charge of Your Thoughts
Constant rumination and worry can give rise to overthinking. This problem takes the form of a pattern that keeps coming back every time you get stuck in a chain of thoughts. Overthinking ultimately develops this unhealthy pattern. While most of the trigger thoughts are natural, it depends on us whether to engage in them or not. Yes, you read that right! You can take charge of your overthinking and decide which thought is worth spending more time on and which is not. Experts say that a person’s ability to identify and differentiate between good and bad overthinking may make them rid of unhealthy thoughts.
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3. Attention Training
Some people who deal with unhealthy overthinking may become unable to curb prompt thoughts. This problem is counterproductive and hampers the quality of life. However, the good news is that overthinking can be controlled. Some people struggle in developing the skill of controlling overthinking. In metacognitive therapy, attention training is provided to help people realize that they can shift their attention irrespective of inner inputs. Attention training may make you follow easy daily life practices that may help you understand how to stop overthinking.
4. Learn The Art of Distraction
Many people see a therapist train their attention and curb overthinking. The therapist makes the victim of overthinking go through many mental exercises. However, if the problem of overthinking is not that severe, people can learn how to stop overthinking on their own. Having distractions during the night, when a person cannot sleep because of overthinking, can also help in dealing with insomnia. Being able to identify triggering thoughts, one can find a distraction or develop a hobby or creative skill to keep overthinking at bay. Attending art classes, learning to cook, learning new instruments, reading books, talking to friends, etc., are some distractions and skills that may uplift a person’s mood and throw a triggering thought out of mind to eliminate overthinking.
Practicing breathing exercises daily, meditating, and training the mind to focus on positivity can help a person understand how to stop overthinking. Inculcating a regular meditation practice is an evidence-backed way to help clear the mind of nervous chatter by turning attention inward. Doing yoga, focusing on deep breathing, or praying are some efficient ways to practice meditation and keep away overthinking.
6. Write Down Your Thoughts
There are thousands of thoughts that cross our minds each day. However, only a few of them catch our attention. If you sit and write your daily thoughts, you can hardly recall 10-15 thoughts. Jotting down thoughts will help you identify the type of thoughts you occupy yourself with. This simple but effective daily exercise can help people with the problem of overthinking. It will further help you to train your mind to seek positivity and learn how to stop overthinking.
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7. Spreading Positivity
Trying to ease the problem for someone else can help you put things in a healthy perspective. Think of different ways you can be of service to help someone going through a difficult time. Is your friend who is going through a divorce need a few hours of childcare? Does your neighbor require you to pick groceries as they are sick? The realization that you have the power to make someone’s day better can help you curb overthinking and negative thoughts from taking a toll on your mind. It also provides a distraction from the never-ending stream of thoughts and instead offers something productive to focus on.
8. Stay content With Your Success
People who overthink tend to seek constant validation and get disappointed when they don’t receive it. The constant requirement of validation is a result of overthinking, which can impact mental well-being. When someone is in the middle of overthinking, ask them to stop and get a notebook or open a note-making app on the phone. Ask them to jot down five things that they did right over the past week and their role in them. These things do not need to be huge accomplishments. Make them add even the simple tasks like cleaning the car, getting all the things in the grocery list, arranging bookshelf, etc. When we look at it on paper or on-screen, it might be a surprise that how these little things add up. This simple and easy practice can help keep spiraling thoughts and overthinking away from the mind.
9. Say No To Absent-Mindedness
It is okay if you are not ready to commit to a meditation routine to overcome overthinking. There are several other ways to bind yourself in the present moment. For instance, shutting off your computer or phone for a fixed amount of time each day and spend that time on some other activity. Similarly, taking care of eating mindfully can play a major role in curbing overthinking. Treat yourself with your favorite meal or snack. Focus on the taste and aroma of the food; this will make your senses relax for some time. Another thing which one can do to avoid overthinking is going out or taking a walk, even if it is just a quick lap around the block. Smelling the grass in a park, listening to the chirping of birds, looking at kids playing can certainly put your overthinking on hold.
10. Embrace The Fears
Some things always stay out of our control. Learning acceptance can go a long way toward curbing overthinking. Of course, this is easier to say than to do, and it will not happen overnight. However, look for small opportunities where you can take charge of overthinking situations. It can be standing up to a bossy co-worker or taking that solo trip you have been planning about.
FAQs About Overthinking
Q.1 Is there a disorder for thinking too much?
Ans. Overthinking is often linked with psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. Mental health starts deteriorating when a person is in a vicious loop of unhealthy thoughts.
Q.2 Is overthinking bad?
Ans. Yes. Overthinking about anything can mentally harm a person.
Q.3 What happens when you think too much?
Ans. Thinking too much can lead to fatigue, anxiety, stress, and even depression. It affects the general well-being of a person.
Q.4 Is overthinking a sign of anxiety?
Ans. Yes. Overthinking is a prominent symptom of anxiety. If it becomes uncontrollable, one must see a doctor.