Overthinking is when your thoughts get stuck in a repetitive loop. It is easy to get bogged down in rumination, which can lead to increased anxiety and stress. Thankfully, there are ways you can stop overthinking and gain more control over your thoughts.
Your thoughts are busy, and all this up-in-your-head stuff is exhausting. You find yourself distracted by all the possibilities for failure, embarrassment or bad decision-making.
Does this sound familiar?
Not only are you now waist-deep in the rumination loop, but you have created a bucket load of anxiety and have exhausted all your mental energy. It’s time to calm that brain of yours.
Overthinking hijacks your sense of calm and leaves you scrambling for control
What Happens When You Stop Overthinking?
I visited a friend a few weeks ago. She told me she has recently made a few YouTube videos of herself dancing. These videos are choreographed; there are no fancy costumes or perfect locations, just her dancing how she feels.
What? But why, you ask? Well, she likes to dance. She simply wanted to share her happiness with her friends. That’s it. She didn’t overcomplicate things or ruminate. There was no tying herself up in overthinking knots. None of this mattered; she just did it.
Overthinking could have talked her out of doing what she wanted to do. You know the ones – fear, embarrassment, reputation, failure, ridicule. Thankfully, it didn’t.
How Overthinking Happens
Overthinking takes many forms. Overthinking keeps you stuck, hijacking your calmness and leaving you scrambling for control.
These are some ways your overthinking can play out:
- You may find yourself overcomplicating and analysing situations and interactions.
- Having a preoccupation with the past or the future.
- You may be reliving mistakes and berating yourself for these mistakes.
- Focusing on a negative perspective and on everything that could go wrong.
- You are attempting to control things outside of your control, such as people’s actions, behaviour or responses.
- Having a focus on “what if” hypotheticals.
- You may create roadblocks keeping you in the overthinking loop.
How You Can Stop Overthinking Absolutely Everything
1. Keep your thinking simple
Firstly, complicating simple situations and interactions lead to lots of overthinking.
Anxiety runs away with reality and creates scenarios that often conceal the truth. Go back to what you know to be accurate; find the simplicity in this.
You will always interpret situations from your lens. Be aware this may not be an accurate representation of what is happening.
Ask yourself: What are the facts? What do I know to be true? What actually happened? Distinguish what you do know from what you are speculating on.
Asking yourself these questions can separate fact from emotion and help to keep things simple.
2. Stop trying to predict the future
Secondly, to stop overthinking, try to avoid the urge to plan for things outside of your control. Are you reliving mistakes, analysing and replaying conversations, and interpreting the meaning of situations? It’s important to be aware of what you can and can’t control.
Trying to control things that are simply outside your control increases your anxiety. You cannot plan for all situations and all ‘what-if’ hypotheticals.
Calming your overthinking brain is about easing off on the reins and letting go of planning for absolutely everything!
Be aware of the conversations in your head, the scenarios that never eventuate, and the well-rehearsed comebacks that never play out.
Let go of trying to predict the future; it’s a fruitless endeavour.
3. Be present in the here-and-now
Anxiety loves two things: A relentless preoccupation with the past and an obsessive focus on the future.
Remaining in the here-and-now allows you to focus on your immediate feelings and experiences.
When you choose to stay in the present, you remain focused on what is happening right now.
This not only keeps you grounded but eases your anxiety. Win!
4. Focus on solutions, not problems
Much of what is involved in overthinking is aimed at worrying about problems. Being problem-focused will not allow you to think of solutions.
If you cannot find answers to your problems, you become stuck in a loop.
Often the feeling of being stuck comes out in ‘roadblocks’. For example, you may say things like, “yeah, but…” Roadblocking solutions means you are not giving yourself a chance to work through your problems.
Knowing this, you can actively choose to shift out of the ‘problem’. You can now move to a place where you are open to exploring solutions.
5. Focus on the positive
Finally, when you focus on the negative, you prevent yourself from moving forward and growing.
Negative thinking does not give rise to possibilities, solutions or the creation of new and exciting ideas
Just like being stuck in a loop, you are replaying the negative event in your head. Make it a priority to shift your brain from seeing an adverse event and situation to a positive one.
It’s sometimes necessary to remind yourself of the stark reality. Many people are too busy overthinking their own stuff to be too worried about you. Still, it is strange how that seems less anxiety-provoking than anything!
The good news is, you can take steps toward stopping overthinking, You can gain more control over your thoughts, and you can ease your stress and anxiety. It’s time to take back control of your brain!