Are you a chronic worrier? Do you make mountains out of molehills?
Are you always painting pictures of gloom and doom? Do you dwell on things excessively?
Do you overthink a situation only to end up feeling overwhelmed and unable to make a decision? Does your mind go round and round in loops with no solutions in sight?
Too much information and endless cycles of ruminating on the same situation can be debilitating and prevent you from moving on and finding new solutions. This can drain your energy, sap your motivation, and lead you to mental exhaustion.
Your struggle to make a decision makes you feel frozen with inaction and unproductive. Overthinking undermines your confidence, creates doubts, amplifies fears, and clouds your decision-making abilities.
Overthinking can take a toll on your health, work, and relationships, not to mention disrupt your sleep, create more stress, spark anxiety, and even cause depression.
Overthinking may be caused by the tendency to be a perfectionist and overachiever; trying to control situations in order to reduce stress and anxiety levels; and fear of failing and being criticized for making mistakes. Overthinking could also be an underlying symptom of depression, anxiety disorder, OCD, or PTSD.
Overthinkers have a bad mental habit of engaging in negative thinking patterns that include the following cognitive distortions: all or nothing, catastrophizing, jumping to conclusions, and mind-reading. Your thoughts need a reconstructive makeover.
How do you break this endless cycle?
- Take charge of your thoughts. Challenge them and get objective.
- Become aware of your thought patterns and notice what triggers you.
- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Practice positive reframing.
- The same way you talk your way into it, you can talk yourself out of it.
- Look at the situation from a wider perspective and find alternative ways to solve the problem.
- Stop dwelling on the problem; keep your focus on finding a solution.
- Keep in mind what you can control, mainly your thoughts and attitude.
- Don’t waste time on things and events you cannot control.
- If you want to overthink, why not schedule and limit your worry time to 15 minutes each day?
- Get out of your head and move your body, even if it’s for five minutes. Stretch, exercise, dance, or go for a walk. It can make a difference and shift your energy.
- Distract yourself; find a diversion so that you can come back feeling refreshed.
- Practice mindfulness: breathing exercises, meditation, restful sleep, gratitude, journaling.
- Tap into your creativity; it calms the mind and relaxes the body.
- Be more spontaneous, trust your intuition, and take small steps instead of gigantic ones.
- Aim for progress, not perfection. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
- Learn to ask for help from your trusted friends and family or seek out professional help.
Find peace of mind and build those mental muscles by training your brain to think differently.
Embrace the uncertainties in life, and remember, next time your mind goes into overdrive,
Think Less and Change the Channel.
Antoinette Giacobbe M.A.