The American Psychological Association describes overthinking as a prolonged, recurrent and repetitive thought about one’s concerns, experiences and self. Overthinking may lead to worry, rumination and self-reproach. People are not born over-thinking. It is a habit they form over time. Here is an insight on how to stop overthinking.
How to Stop Overthinking
1. Create Awareness
When thinking too much, one normally gets carried away such that they are not aware of how much they are engrossed. Creating awareness involves recognizing negative thought loops whenever they occur. Be intentionally aware of overthinking. You will manage to stop overthinking if you observe your thoughts and behavior. Make sure not to judge your thoughts or worry about overthinking.
2. Wear a Rubber Band to Interrupt the Pattern
Being aware of your overthinking habit may help stop it. Additionally, you could interrupt the looping pattern by doing something physical. To remind yourself about overthinking, wear a rubber band around your wrist. Gently snap the rubber band whenever you find yourself overthinking. You could also switch your ring or watch between your hands to momentarily bring your thoughts back to reality. Say the word "stop" loudly as you change your ring or watch or as you snap the rubber band. Do the physical reminder repeatedly.
3. Replace the Negative Thoughts
Another tip on how to stop negative thinking is to replace your negative thought pattern with a positive thought after interrupting your pattern of overthinking. Repeat your positive thought several times loudly or silently in your head. If overthinking has lasted a long time, you may have to repeat this process many times. With time, you will get over the habit of negative thinking.
4. Talk with Someone You Trust
Another solution regarding how to stop overthinking is sharing your negative thoughts with someone you trust. It could be a coach, counselor, advisor or a friend. Such people can help determine whether you are overthinking and help you break free of negative thoughts. You should see a doctor if overthinking is related to health concerns. Your problem may not be as bad as you think and all you need is someone to reassure you that everything is alright.
5. Get Busy
Overthinking makes you stray from the happenings of the present moment. Getting busy with something that keeps your mind occupied helps avoid negative thoughts. Anything that requires your attention can be of great help. This may vary from organizing your books in alphabetical order to painting or even calculating your annual expenses. In this way, you will manage to control your thoughts gradually until you achieve your goal.
6. Do Exercise
When overthinking, you do not feel like exercising since negative thoughts suck up your emotional and mental energy. However, if you think of how to stop overthinking, exercising is one way to do it. In addition to increasing self-confidence, exercises also boost the production of endorphins and serotonin, lowering anxiety and depression symptoms. When you focus on performing an exercise, your mind is distracted from negative thoughts. When overthinking occurs, take a cardio fitness class, ride a bike or run for about thirty minutes.
7. Make the Decision
Sometimes overthinking is brought by the inability to make a big decision. Whether it is divorce or a job offer, making a decision can be difficult. You may want to analyze every potential outcome until you get to a point where you have nothing more to consider. The best way to deal with it is to set a time limit such as 30 minutes or 2 hours and think about everything you can come up with during the limited time. Once the deadline comes, make the decision without hesitation.
8. Write It Down
One way of getting rid of negative thoughts is writing them down and throwing away the paper. You can also give yourself an overthinking score on a scale of one to ten with ten being the highest level of overthinking. Keep recording for a week to see whether your habit of overthinking has been reduced.
9. Practice Mindfulness
When overthinking, one is unable to connect himself with the present moment. One way to stop overthinking is by practicing mindfulness. This involves meditation in which you focus on the present moment without being judgmental. Just acknowledge the negative thoughts and then let them go. You can get help from someone who does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or learn meditation techniques like transcendental meditation.
10. Be an Actionist
How to stop overthinking? Do the things that you think about! Sometimes people overthink about hard tasks they are supposed to embark on. The trick is to go ahead and start the project instead of worrying about it. Focus on the goal and set deadlines to tackle one problem at a time. Moving step by step will help achieve the goal without overthinking about it.
11. Stop Trying to Be Perfect or Control Everything
People think through things for a long time as they strive to achieve perfect results. You may want to consider every possibility to avoid failing. It is important to keep in mind that everyone that has achieved much has made mistakes at some point. It is impossible to control everything and spot all possible mistakes beforehand.