How To Stop Overthinking

Published on 4 October 2021 at 09:00

Read Time: 3 minutes 32 seconds.

Let’s consider what overthinking actually is. This one is pretty straightforward. Overthinking is essentially thinking too much. 

This can be analyzing the smallest events until they seem to be larger and more significant than they actually were. As an example, let’s say you got one bad mark on an important work review. Everything else was fine, except you didn’t clean something correctly. Instead of processing that and saying “okay, I did well, I’ll just make a note to myself to remember to do this next time.” Someone who chronically overthinks will take that one negative mark and turn it into “I’m going to lose my job”. You’ve now taken what could’ve been a small thought and was a small event and turned it into something that is no longer manageable. 


Here is where anxiety sets in. 


People tend to overthink more than they do, but what we’re covering here is for those who overthink all the time, to the point that your daily life is impacted. You can’t plan for the future because you’re uncertain about the future. You won’t plan that vacation because you don’t think you’ll have a job in 3 months. 


We all overthink from time to time, it’s our mind’s natural hyper-vigilance. We are just human. We are still processing our recent technological evolutions and still have primitive brain functions. But, through evolution we have developed a pretty advanced brain that can learn new habits and stop negative ways of thinking. 


It’s important to differentiate between the chronic over thinker and the occasional over thinker because of the process our bodies naturally go through to get rid of the stress caused by overthinking. When we go to bed, and enter the REM process of sleep, our brain processes everything that happened that day and decides what “file cabinet” to put it in. That’s why you might vaguely remember that one embarrassing thing that happened but it won’t be the first thing on your mind when you wake up. However, if you’re not sleeping because you’re overthinking so much, or you’re not following a good sleep pattern, you’re not going to enter or effectively go through this stage of sleep. 


Some steps to start the process of stopping overthinking. I’m going to emphasize here that everything we mention will only work if you continue to practice these every day. 


There is no quick fix for anything. You have to be patient with yourself. 


First, recognize when you’re overthinking. Pay attention to how you think throughout the day and notice when you’re feeling stressed. What are you thinking about during the most anxious parts of your day? Write it down in a journal to keep track of it all and start to notice the pattern throughout the week. 


Second, you might be tempted to think about the topic that’s stressing you out. Don’t remind yourself that you’re trying to fix this issue. Focus on the ways you can solve that problem. You’re going to think about it anyway, why not spend that same energy thinking of a solution? A solution doesn’t have to be fixing the issue. It can be how you can better handle what’s happening around you. 


Next, you’ve learned what the thoughts are that you overthink about. Think in a positive way while you challenge these thoughts. Using our example from earlier with the negative mark on a work review. Think about where this emotion comes from and where this thought comes from. Challenge your thought, realize it’s negative, and write these down so you can look at the challenge along with the thought. Take 20 minutes every time you have a negative thought and do this process. Even if you try it for a week, you’ll start to see a pattern and start to think more positively because you’re sitting and forcing yourself to think in a different way about something that you think about frequently. Your brain is going to naturally latch onto that solution, because it’s a new way of “healing” something that has continued to cause issues internally. 


Remember, we have a 5 day Program called “Stop Overthinking, Start Understanding” if you want a targeted plan to stop overthinking and damaging your mental health! Take the assessment on our Home page!


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