Many of us get caught up in overthinking. It’s very common.
We analyze things excessively. We worry too much. We replay things over and over in our head. We ruminate.
It’s a big problem for many people.
In my Traps Test, with responses from more than 600 people around the world so far asking about more than 60 common traps that inhibit people’s quality of life, overthinking is the number-one trap. (See my article, “18 Signs You’re Overthinking,” to determine whether you struggle with this.)
The question then becomes how to stop it.
How to Stop Overthinking
Fortunately, there are many things we can do to address our overthinking. Below are 28 practices from which we can choose.
- Catch ourselves in the act of overthinking. If we can bring this habit into our awareness, then we can begin reprogramming our brains with more enjoyable and productive ways of thinking. Author Melody Wilding recommends using a pattern interruption technique such as silently saying “stop” when we start overthinking. Or we can swipe our hand to the side, symbolically casting our overthinking away.
- Recognize that a key to success in life is taking more action more often. One of the biggest mistakes we make in our lives is having a thought-to-action ratio that’s way too high. Change the focus from problems and worries to solutions and actions.
Discover: Taking Bold Action Is What Brings Our Dreams To Life
- Decide to become a person of action instead of an overthinker. Enjoy getting lost in doing things.
- Recognize that our thoughts are like a dial, not a switch. This insight from David Thomas, author and Director of Family Counseling at Daystar in Nashville, teaches us that we can’t switch off our thoughts, but we can turn the volume down on rumination and negative thoughts.
- Practice making quick decisions. Start with small things and count down from three: “three, two, one… choose.” Then go with it. Get used to a faster decision cycle and note the results.
- Determine what’s creating fear in us. Get better at recognizing how many of our fears are false phantoms, much like the childhood monsters we feared under our beds. And get better at overcoming our fears.
- Focus intensely on something. Listen to music and focus intently on something in it, like the lyrics or the guitar line. Or study a drawing or painting and examine the shapes, lines, and colors.
- Learn what our overthinking triggers are and avoid them. They could be certain social media accounts, news sites, or sticky situations with certain people.
- Give ourselves a time budget for how long we’re allowed to think about something. Then choose to move on after that.
- Develop our confidence and learn to trust ourselves more.
- Determine the things that we do have control over and focus on them. If we’re worried about an important upcoming meeting, we can do a great job preparing for the meeting and then make sure we get a good night’s rest and arrive early to set up. Then we can be satisfied that we’ve done our job.
- Get better at letting things go. We’re probably placing way more weight on things than the situation warrants. People think way less of us than we imagine.
- Change our thoughts into questions. For example, we can shift a thought from “I can’t believe I said that” to “What could I say differently next time?”
- Get some exercise. This leads to a reduction in stress hormones and comes with so many benefits, including better mood and higher greater energy levels.
Read More: 18 Signs You’re Overthinking