How to stop overthinking

Worrying and overthinking, to the excess, can take a toll on your wellbeing, and even increase your risk of certain mental health conditions. It can prevent you from getting anything done and put you in an awful mood too. We’re all guilty of it!

What you can do to overcome overthinking

  • Be self-aware and when you feel yourself overthinking, stop for a moment and ask yourself if your thoughts are rational. The way you respond to your thoughts can really make a difference as to whether you’re kept in a cycle of rumination/repetitive thinking or not. Try considering other viewpoints of the situation you are worrying about, instead of seeing the world through your eyes being shaped by your own experiences and assumptions.
  • Identify your repetitive limiting beliefs that regularly come up in your overthinking, and replace these with positive affirmations eg if you regularly overthink “I’m not good enough”, tell yourself “I AM good enough, if it’s possible in the world it’s possible for me” even if you don’t believe it yet.
  • Identify the root cause of your overthinking and tackle this directly. You may find therapy the best answer to this. Try and find solutions to these root problems, eg if your overthinking is caused by stress at work then maybe rethink your career path.
  • Write down your feelings and worries so that you’re not storing them internally, and write down any tasks you have to do so that you can work through them one by one and not have them all circling round your head where they feel overwhelming.
  • Stop overthinking the past by forgiving yourself and others for mistakes (we all make them) and letting go of anger to prevent bad things in your past controlling your future emotions. Stop trying to be perfect as this will only lead to feelings of failure. Your focus should only ever be progressing, not trying to achieve perfection.
  • Focus on positive self-talk. Make a list of what you are grateful for in your life and what you have already achieved. When you are in the midst of overthinking, write down 5 things that have gone right in your life and how your personal efforts made that happen. They don’t even need to be huge things! Eg cleaning out your car – but the little things add up. Take a look at our gratitude resource for more ideas.
  • Set yourself a time and postpone worries and overthinking until then. Set half an hour a day at a set time where you can freely worry and attempt to answer the things you are thinking about, then this way when trigger thoughts come into your head throughout the day, instead of overthinking, postpone them until your set “thinking time” and push it to one side to deal with later. When your time is up, move onto something else. Continue reading …
  • Put things into perspective. Will what you are thinking about really matter in 6 months time? Or even 6 days time? Don’t let minor issues turn into significantly larger problems.
  • Work on being more present in the moment rather than overthinking the future, as in doing so you are missing out on the time you have now. Find a distraction to shut down overthinking by doing something you enjoy eg cooking, volunteering, going to the gym, taking up a new hobby. This in effect will “change the channel” in your mind putting an end to the negative thoughts and focusing on something new.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Helping someone else who is going through a difficult time eg childcare for a struggling friend or collecting groceries for an elderly neighbour can help to put your own stresses into perspective. It gives you something productive to focus on, and can give you the power to make someone else’s day better, rather than focusing on your own negative thoughts
  • Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Sit somewhere comfortable and breathe through to slow and calm your racing thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation can be a good way of clearing your mind and also focusing on the present moment by focusing on your breathing etc as opposed to your worries or overthinking. With practice mindfulness can decrease overthinking, and there are many free classes, books, apps and videos that can help you to learn mindfulness skills. Mindfulness/meditation also releases serotonin, so try serotonin-releasing activities such as this, as well as other activities such as going outside or exercising

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