How to Deal With Overthinking? Try these 10 Effective Ways
Yesterday, my friends and I were discussing our lives and suddenly we started talking about how we engage ourselves in overthinking and fail to stop it. That’s when I realised that many of us are dealing with overthinking on a day to day basis and we all wish to STOP IT. So, here are 10 effective ways that will help you deal with overthinking.
First let us understand Overthinking!
Overthinking is a pattern to thinking in endless circles which ultimately can be exhausting. This endless pattern of thinking can consist of various attempts to read mind, thinking of future, reading into details, and stream of thoughts before making a decision. Surprisingly, you can also sometimes listen to running commentary and criticism going in your head.
But, not every thinking pattern can be classified as OVERTHINKING. Therefore, it is important to check for the same.
Checkpoint for your THOUGHT PATTERN
If you can relate with most of the statements presented below then you might be involved in overthinking:
- Facing difficulty to catch proper sleep
- Often trying to self-medicate and regulate the emotions
- Feeling tired almost all of the day
- Trying to gain control over everything that is happening in life
- Constant fear of failure or future
- Difficulty trusting your judgment.
- Muscle tension near temples, shoulder, and neck.
Time to step out of the overthinking pattern and move ahead in life healthily
10 Effective Ways to Deal with Overthinking:
1. Break the CIRCLE
As mentioned above overthinking is like a constant circle of thoughts so by breaking this circle you can overcome this unhealthy thinking pattern. You can break it by being self-aware. Having self-awareness will aid in changing your mindset. Two ways to develop self-awareness are:
- When thoughts start running in your head just take a step back and check how it reflects on your mood.
- Realize the things that you can’t control and accept them. Because neither your streams of thoughts nor the outcomes can change them. So, don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Find a DISTRACTION
One of the major reasons behind overthinking is our inactive brain! If you leave it inactive it will start weaving thoughts that are not required by you. So, what to do? Distract yourself as soon as the process of thought weaving starts. In other words, keep yourself busy!
Remember that don’t distract yourself for the sake of it rather enjoy doing it. There are different and unique ways in which you can distract yourself. Love dancing? Put your favorite songs on and start grooving. Enjoy cooking? Try a new dish today. Just make sure you enjoy it.
3. Track your ANTs
Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are like seeds that give rise to overthinking. Therefore, it is important to track them down and alleviate them. There is a 4 step process that can help you stop overthinking here:
- Make a note of the situation that has triggered your stream of thoughts (overthinking)
- Write the emotions that you have experienced alongside
- Next, write the thoughts that are running through your mind in that given situation
- Now, challenge your thoughts with an alternative healthy thought
Current thought “I am never going to meet the deadline”
New thought “I am giving my best to meet the deadline and I won’t give up”
4. MEDITATE your Way Out
Overthinking thoughts either dwells us in the past or swings us in the future. Therefore, getting into the present is important so that we can come out of this bubble of apprehensive thoughts. The best way to achieve this is through meditating (especially mindfulness meditation) and finding our way out.
If you find it difficult to meditate, you can start with simple techniques that will help you to be here now:
- Eat mindfully: Don’t just eat to fill your stomach, feed your brain too! Enjoy each bite of your food. Focus on how it tastes, feel, smells as you chew on it.
- Unplug yourself: Shut away all the distractions around you and just focus on your breath.
- Take a walk: Bring all your senses together and pay attention to the voices, smells, scenery, beauty, breeze that is around you.
5. Use S.T.U.C.K. to Unstick your Thoughts
S: Stop: Stop. Take a Pause. Focus on your breath.
T: Tell: Tell yourself what emotions you are feeling right now and name them. Don’t run away from it, just feel it.
U: Uncover: Uncover the rationality behind your thoughts. Make of the thoughts, challenge and validate them by asking is it 100% true? If not, scrape it out.
C: Consider: Consider a bigger and different picture. Look at the other angle of a situation and consider it (preferably, a positive angle)
K: OK: It is okay: Tell yourself it’s okay for the way you have felt and thoughts that you have built. Practice self-compassion here. Do say it to yourself- I am Enough!
6. Try ABCD Process
Yes, even the first alphabets of the alphabet series have a lesson to teach that can help you deal with overthinking. Generally, we are involved in continuous thoughts before attempting a task thinking of what if things don’t work? What if my plans fail? To deal with these WHAT IFs ABCD can be applied.
Ask. Ask yourself what if you go for it? What is the worst that can happen?
Go for Plan B. To go for it! Make a plan, ditch your thoughts and start working on it.
Create a To-Do List. This will help you stay sorted. Just create a list of things you have to do today. Cross out the things that you can go without doing today. Finally, prioritize the list that you have in hand now.
Do it. Move down your priority list, focus on ONE thing at a time and just DO IT!
7. Look at the GREEN SIGNS
One of the major emotions underlying overthinking is- fear! As a result of this, we tend to look for the red signs in our surroundings and feed our overthinking. Say, if you got in a new relationship or job and you have a fear of losing it, then you might start looking for red signs like s/he did not message me, I am probably not good enough or no one likes me in the office, maybe I should quit here, respectively. This might end up adding more to your never-ending thoughts.
Therefore, taking a 180-degree flip is of omnipotence. Start looking at the green signs that a situation has to offer rather than the red ones, it will not only reduce your fear of emotion but will also help to break the overthinking circle. Remind yourself of the fact that every opportunity is a new beginning, a place for you to start fresh.
8. Write a JOURNAL
Journal writing can always help to deal with overwhelming feelings, emotions, and thoughts. It works as the silver lining on the difficult days. Just make a list of things that you are grateful for in your life. Even if it is as little as that comfy pillow supporting your back to something big as having a happy family, just write it down. It will help you change your perspective towards things and boost your self-esteem.
9. Switch on POSITIVITY
When you will try to generate self-awareness and track your ANTs down, you will see that the majority of the time, thoughts are loaded with negative affirmations. These negative affirmations further fuel overthinking, therefore, it has to be stopped. It is suggested to turn the switch off for negative affirmations and switch on a healthy practice of positive affirmations. You can form your own positive affirmation list and say it aloud to yourself whenever the overthinking swipes in. Here are from our end:
I am more than my thoughts. I decide to choose happiness over these unhelpful thoughts.
I will live in the present moment and appreciate what it has to offer me.
I am in charge of my thoughts. I will release my stream of thoughts right now.
You may print them out and place them in your study area or workstation. Just remind yourself of the power that you have.
10. Be a WELL-WISHER
By being a well-wisher for someone else you can actually find ease with yourself. It will help you look beyond your negative thoughts by making you realize the power of good that you have. There are various ways to be a WELL-WISHER for someone. You can write good wishes to someone and tell them they matter once a week. Or you can help a friend even by merely listening to them. Just do something nice for someone else.
No matter which measure you choose to work with remember:
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Go easy on yourself as striving for perfectionism and quick results can start the loop of overthinking again.
Your thoughts won’t decide your life outputs but the way you deal with them can. So, make sure they are healthy!
More Power to You…
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