Did you know that a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School found out that overthinking can cause early death? Is it not a fact that we often feel stuck in a rut of negative thoughts? Where we keep getting the same thought patterns over and over. Where we feel like we are living in “analysis hell.”
Studies have shown that people who overthink lack optimized levels of a protein called REST – RE-1 Silencing Transcription. This protein can control repeated thought patterns, worrying, and quieten the brain.
Wouldn’t it be empowering if you knew how do you stop overthinking like the emotionally intelligent folks do?
If it’s a yes, and if you feel stuck in the category of overthinkers, then this minimalist guide is for you. In this post, I will highlight several aspects of overthinking, what does overthinking mean and how do you stop overthinking.
What does overthinking mean?
Overthinking is a horrible habit that we all have to break. Unfortunately, it is a pervasive problem for most of us. It is the source of most complications in our lives.
To think about someone or something for a prolonged period is overthinking. Overthinking and anxiety often lead to a chain of negative thoughts about that experience and finally to rumination. It is a universal phenomenon most of us go through at some point in time in our lives.
When we are concerned with something, we often fall into the trap of continuous unpleasant thoughts. We think about it for hours, days, weeks, or even months, getting lost in a sea of our thoughts and finding it hard to break free. We lose sleep and get irritated over simple situations. These are symptoms of overthinking and anxiety.
It halts us from doing what we should be doing right now. However, once I walk you through these seven ways on how do you stop overthinking and anxiety, you will be able to cut free from the constraints of your thinking and expand your possibilities as never before.
These seven ways on “how do you stop overthinking” have helped me a lot, and I thought, what’s better than sharing it with our online community. Before jumping into how to deal with overthinking, let us understand why we overthink?
Why am I overthinking so much?
If we can address this question, “Why am I overthinking so much?” half the job is done.
We have accepted the elephant in the room, as they say. Remember this: The first step to solving any problem is recognizing that you have a problem! Only then you can work on “how do you stop overthinking”.
The truth is, most of us experience a great deal of stress, overthinking, and anxiety daily. When this happens, our brains produce chemicals that cause us to focus on potential problems and create worry or fear to ensure our safety.
This is expected and healthy; it keeps us alive. However, sometimes this constant flood of anxiety causes us to get lost in thought. And, we begin to obsess about things that aren’t important.
If overthinking and anxiety are not because of extreme emotional insecurities and issues, working on our mindsets can address this problem.
Transforming the way you think can be very freeing because changing how you think changes how you feel! This is a powerful technique that will become second nature to us once we start using it.
It works like this: Whenever you discover yourself starting to worry about something, stop immediately. Don’t think about anything else for a few seconds. Just focus on the process of thinking. This will cause your mind to become empty and lead you to a more transparent state of mind.
Can overthinking cause anxiety?
Overthinking can make the problem seem more significant than it is and can cause you to obsess on it until it has become entirely unmanageable. Moreover, usually ruminating makes things worse. It is a negative cycle that is very hard to break. What we need is not more time or energy to solve the problem but a clear mind.
Extreme worrying causes distress and restlessness, which can lead to anxiety or depression if not addressed.
Can overthinking cause anxiety – well, the answer is yes, and so regaining control of your thoughts is the key to regaining your peace of mind.
How to overcome overthinking?
I bet you must be upbeat by now and want to know how to overcome overthinking. Here are some easy yet commanding ways to stop overthinking:
Be In The Moment –
All you have to do is label each passing thought as it pops into your head. As you do this, you will find yourself becoming more and more aware of your thought process itself.
You will become more and more conscious of what I call your “monkey mind.” Before you know it, your monkey mind will be as empty as a parking lot on a Sunday afternoon.
The goal is not to kill the thoughts but to make your mind as empty as possible to regain your ability to think clearly.
Stop Being Obsessed About Your Past And The Future –
See, much of our thinking is focused on the past and the future. We replay conversations over and over in our heads. We worry about what might happen. We get lost in fantasies about what could be. The truth is, most of our thinking is not valid. It doesn’t help us solve problems or make good decisions. Most of it is mental fluff.
Since we can’t pay attention to more than about two things at once, most of our thinking is pretty much useless. So, the primary step you must do is learn to be in the present moment. Only then can you make progress toward achieving your goals and moving forward with your life.
The following action you must do is start paying attention to your “automatic pilot” thoughts. You see, often, we get lost in our thoughts. We let our minds run wild with endless possibilities and end up spending an immense amount of time and energy on matters that are not important. To help you stop this from happening, you need to learn how to monitor your thinking.
Work Upon Thought Patterns –
Overthinking occurs when our thinking becomes perpetually stuck in the “red-alert” mode. To stop overthinking, we must become aware of what we are thinking. It will help if we become aware of the “stories” we are telling ourselves. We need to notice the negative patterns we have created in our lives. Then, it would be best to interrupt these patterns by consciously replacing them with positive affirmations.
Overthinking and anxiety are not necessarily related to a specific unfortunate event in our lives. Still, it is embedded deep in our beliefs about ourselves, the world, and the stories we say to ourselves.
Work On Solutions –
Quit anticipating things to “happen” in our favor and focus on making things happen as we want! We need to acknowledge what our problems are but make sure our approach is solution-oriented. Identifying the reasons for our anxiety and overthinking is the beginning. It would benefit if we took charge of our lives, and the primary way to do it is by taking control of our thoughts.
Furthermore, don’t allow other people to hold power over your future, because none of them have any control whatsoever. Only you do. You see, when it comes to your success, nobody else can help you (not even me) except by sharing with you the powerful techniques and the ways to be successful.
Do not let the bug of perfectionism bite you –
Perfectionism is something society appreciates, makes us socially popular, and increases the chances of our success. While all these sound exciting, we often forget that we are humans and we can make mistakes. Perfectionism leads us to set impossible higher standards for ourselves, which we might not be able to achieve, leading to overthinking and anxiety in the long run.
We always do not need to label our efforts, relationships, or growth curve as good or bad. Sometimes there is nothing inherently good or bad about them; it’s how we respond to them that makes all the difference.
Perfectionism can stop us from enjoying our moments because it causes us to live in a state of almost constant “emergency anxious mode.” And what happens when we operate in such a mode all the time? Simple… we get exhausted, worn-out and sick. We graduate to overthinking and anxiety and end up cursing ourselves.
Imagine worst-case scenarios –
Am I being sarcastic? – No…
A big NO!
We need to accept that we are vulnerable to situations, circumstances, natural calamities, and too many other things. We cannot have control over every detail of our lives. We need to prepare and work towards our targets, ambitions, aspirations without forgetting that results are not in our hands every time.
Let’s face it, sometimes contemplating the worst-case scenarios can help achieve a sense of freedom. Think of your biggest fears and let go of those thoughts. See where it ends up. Probably fear, probably defeat, probably something we don’t want to happen to us.
Now, surrender those negative thoughts to, say, an imaginary bin.
Next, we can conjure up the best-case scenarios we would love to happen to our loved ones or us. Just the poles opposite of what we feared.
We would notice in both cases; we are far away from reality. Reality is somewhere in the middle of the situations we imagine.
This is one of the less popular yet influential ways to up your game and to know how do you stop overthinking. Through this technique, you come close to a balanced thought process.
Meditation Helps –
Even 10 – 15 minutes sessions each day can help you clarify your thoughts by removing the stored clutter. It is a clear-headed examination of reality. Meditation reveals what is hidden, what is obscured, and what is confused.
It’s a great way to reboot our brains and restore clarity. Meditation is not a panacea. It won’t solve all our problems in one sitting. But it will help overcome anxiety and overthinking, improve memory retention, reduce stress, and much more.
Find a quiet room, sit in a perfect posture, close your eyes and just let go!
How to stop overthinking in relationships?
The above strategies can help you if you want to overcome excessive thinking. However, a few other things might be vital when it comes to how to stop overthinking in relationships.
Strategies such as being aware of why you are overthinking about the relationship, creating trust in your spouse or partner or friends, being clear and open to yourself and your partner about what you want with the relationship, and doing positive and constructive things such as gratitude journaling, etc. can help you.
Even if then you are not happy with your relationship, you can always go for relationship counseling.
Recommended read on the importance of gratitude.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is overthinking a sign of?
Overthinking could be a sign of a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. On the other hand, it may increase susceptibility to developing mental health issues.
How can I relax my mind?
Deep breathing, mindful meditation, sleep hygiene, gratitude journaling, listening to music, reading something inspiring can relax the mind and reduce the signs of overthinking.
How do I train my brain to stop worrying?
Writing down your worries feels like you’re clearing your mind, and you feel more relaxed as a result. Take some time to note down your concerns and find out the source of the problems. Before overthinking kills your happiness, try to chalk out how you can deal with its causes. This way, you would feel lighter, and your worries would reduce.
We’re all guilty of overthinking at one time or another, but it can be an insidious problem when it becomes a way of life. When you have negative thoughts, it starts with a whisper and quickly escalates into a verbal tornado. But, with practice, it is possible to tame the beast!
The fact that you want to know how do you stop overthinking is a testimony to your positive efforts that you are eager to make necessary changes and make your life productive.
Good luck. Get started today!
Disclaimer: The solutions and mechanisms for dealing with stress are healthy and proven, but they may not work for everyone. To be on the safe side, you can seek professional advice in either case.