Whether you’re beating yourself up over a mistake you made the other day or you’re fretting about if you are going to succeed tomorrow, overthinking only means that you are stressing yourself out. It’s like you can’t get out of your head and are in a constant state of anxiety.
While we all overthink certain situations every now and then, some people are plagued with a constant barrage of thoughts. Overthinking doesn’t just mean thinking too much. It oftentimes involves second-guessing every single decision and imagining disastrous outcomes in vivid pictures as well.
Constant overthinking can over time cause serious problems. Your stress levels get elevated, your judgment gets cloudy and you spend too much time in a negative state of mind so it becomes difficult to take action.
Here are our TOP 10 ideas to free yourself from overthinking and start taking action.
#1 Become Aware
As with anything else, before you are able to deal with your habit of overthinking, you need to become aware of the fact that this is what you do. Whenever you find yourself feeling stressed out, anxious or doubting yourself, take a step back, breathe, slow down and look at the situation and how you are responding to it. This moment of awareness is the beginning of being able to make a change and first reduce and ultimately eliminate the destructive habit of overthinking.
#2 Get Busy and Get Physical
Whenever you catch yourself getting caught up in overthinking, get physical. Go for a walk, do some yoga, get to the gym, play basketball, go swimming, take a dance class. It’s best to find activities that engage you both, physically as well as mentally, because they have the power to pull you out of your thinking patterns and into the zone. Other activities, besides working out, that stimulate the brain can also be highly effective to redirect obsessive thinking patterns. Learn a new language, make art, learn playing a new instrument, take a science class, read a business book. Try different things and you may even discover a hidden talent you never new you had.
#3 Learn to Forgive
Forgiveness is one of the highest human virtues and not just because it’s a commendable personality trait but because it can induce a deep-seated feeling of peace in you. When you learn to forgive people who have wronged or mistreated you and most importantly forgive yourself you can dramatically improve your health, create positive self-esteem and lift your mood, all of which is highly conducive to stop overthinking and start living.
#4 Put Things into a Bigger Perspective
It’s very easy to obsessively overthink the minor things in life. Whenever you find yourself in the cycle of obsessive thinking ask yourself if this situation will be relevant in a year from now, in five years from now or even in a couple of weeks. Widen your perspective, it will be helpful to snap you out of overthinking and let go of a situation that is not even worth it and with that you free up some precious time and energy to focus on something that does actually matter, not just now, but also 5 years from now.
#5 Become a Person of Action
Overthinking is a way of procrastinating, so learning how to take action on a consistent basis will be hugely beneficial in stopping this habit. Set deadlines and start by taking baby steps forward. Only focus on getting the first small step going and then focus on the next step and so on and don’t give yourself the time to overthink and drive yourself crazy. The key is to stick to small steps, so you don’t overwhelm yourself and want to go back to procrastinating. Once you know how to start taking action, it will create momentum that will make you a person of action.
#6 Don’t Get Lost in Fears
Don’t let fear run your life. When we are overthinking, we tend to focus on problems, challenges, obstacles and mistakes. Our mind is filled with fears and running wild about the next disaster that is about to happen. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that could happen? You will realize that a mistake is not the end of the world and most of the time the worst-case scenario doesn’t even materialize. So don’t let your mind run wild with vague fears that don’t have any validity to them and only drain your energy and ability to take action.
#7 Spend more Time with Spontaneous People
A big part of learning how to stop overthinking is your social environment. And we’re not just talking about the people you surround yourself with in your real life, but also what you watch, read and listen to. The news, the movies, podcasts, books, music, blogs and forums have a huge impact on whether you are encouraged to overthink or if they inspire you to let it go. Find ways to spend more time with people and sources that positively influence your thinking, are more spontaneous and don’t overthink things and you will feel your habit of overthinking slowly lessen.
#8 Learn to Be in the Present Moment
Usually overthinking means that we are stuck in the past and ruminating about some mistake that happened yesterday or we obsess about the future that isn’t here, yet. Stay in the present moment and enjoy everyday life and you can replace more and more time you spend overthinking. Slow down and focus on exactly what is happening right here and right now. And whenever you find yourself getting lost in overthinking tell yourself STOP! and come back to the present moment. Really be in the now, see it, feel it, smell it, hear it and sense it on your skin.
#9 Know that Decisions are Never Final
Overthinking is oftentimes based on the notion that we are making this grand decision that is final and will never be changed and therefore must be correct. However, keep in mind that no decision is ever final, you always have a choice to reverse it or change it or go in a completely different direction. Don’t be afraid to make a wrong decision and know that you always have the power of choice and your situation, knowledge and opinion changes over time.
#10 Be Grateful
As overthinking is most of the time negative, keep in mind, you can’t have two thoughts at the same time. You can’t have a negative thought and a grateful thought at the same time, so whenever you catch yourself being in the endless cycle of overthinking, spend some time on positivity. Make a list of all the things and people in your life that you are grateful for. Starting a gratitude journal in which you write down everything you a grateful for whenever you feel gratitude can be extremely helpful because you have something to look at when you get caught up in overthinking. Get into the habit to find 3 things you are grateful for every morning when you wake up and every night right before you go to bed and really get into the feeling of gratitude.
Overthinking can hold you back from living the life of your dreams. It’s a common problem that can happen to anyone at any time. But the great news is that you can develop a system for dealing with the issue of overthinking with our above strategies, so you can ward off some of the stressful, anxious, negative thinking and turn it into something productive, effective and useful.
GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND STOP ANALYSIS PARALYSIS
Joschi & Monika