How To Stop Overthinking? Effective ways to deal with overthinking

How to stop overthinking?

How To Stop Over-Thinking? Effective ways to deal with overthinking?

"Overthinking is parasitic. It's viral. It's deadly, even. Letting yourself fall victim to overthinking doesn't just kill your happiness, it destroys who you are. The mind is a beautiful and complex thing, and the only person who can hurt it is only yourself" quoted Genereux Philip. Overthinking robs us of our peace in the present moment, trapping us in the pain or regret of the past or keeping us focused on the future.

In this article, 'How to stop overthinking? 9 ways to deal with overthinking', we shall examine why we tend to overthink and how is it bad for our mental health. We shall also look into several ways to stop overthinking.

Fear can lead to irrational thinking, keeping us focused on an uncertain future. Overthinking can be caused by "What if..." statements, worrying about uncertain outcomes or the past.  Although it is pretty common for every one of us to occasionally overthink something, there are many people out there that have a habit of doing so. And in this process, they lose out on all the fun. You must have heard many people saying that they tend to overthink things and end up ruining them.

Why do we overthink?

Overthinking happens when we are having doubts or fears about something  in the future, or regrets and concern about how something was handled in the past. There are various reasons why people overthink it has a lot to do with anxiety. People think that by overthinking a situation such as a conversation they had or an action they took, they might feel better about what happened, make sense out of it. For example, maybe you are interested in someone and say something. You then spend the next 2 days overthinking what you said, asking yourself "ugh, why did I say that? Why couldn't I have said this instead?" The goal is to feel better and less anxious about what you said. But the irony of it all is that the more you overthink, the MORE anxious you become!

According to Psychotherapist Ruthie Kalai, overthinking is a way to try to exert control over a situation, especially a situation that has not yet occurred. Here's another example: you're scheduled to have your annual review with your boss tomorrow, so you stay up all night overthinking the conversation. In your mind, you think that overthinking will help you prepare for what might happen so that it won't be so upsetting or devastating. However, what tends to happen is that you assume the worst-case scenario...everything that could go wrong. The more you overthink these worst-case scenarios, the more anxious you become. It becomes this horribly vicious circle that's really hard to get out of. Here's the harsh reality though: no amount of overthinking a situation can control any of the outcomes.

Overthinking is a common symptom of a number of mental disorders, but many people who don’t meet criteria for a diagnosis also overthink as a response to stressful life events or difficult decisions. When life circumstances overwhelm an individual’s capacity to cope, they use psychological mechanisms to reduce the pain they feel, even if those tools aren’t the most effective. One way that people can escape the discomfort of their experience is to stay in the thinking realm, which is less painful than feeling the emotional or even physical pang of grief, fear, or anger.

There's yet another reason for overthinking. And that is insecurity- lack of assurance or self-doubt. We’re insecure. We don’t feel secure in an area of our lives - career, education, relationships - so we overthink in search of security.

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Why is overthinking harmful?

Overthinking directly contributes to our anxiety. The more we do it, the more anxious we become. The more anxious we become, the more we try to overthink to figure out how to get out of feeling this way. Thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations all influence one another. "Anxious states create more anxious thoughts and anxious thoughts create more elevated anxious states. When an individual is unconscious of this cycle or lacks the tools to break it, the cycle intensifies over time and becomes more habitual” stated Natalie Moore, an L.A.-based therapist.

When we overthink we tend to focus on past experiences and future anxieties, neither of which are grounded in our present moment. That anxiety puts us in our sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight or flight part of our nervous system. Staying in that anxious state of being can  damage your physical health and lead to rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and more.

Overthinking can kill your brain cells and you couldn't concentrate on one thing at a time. Thousands of thoughts run in your mind and you forget the present moment. Rumination has been found to increase stress levels, extend negative mood which interferes with effective problem solving, and contribute to the development and maintenance of depression, anxiety, and insomnia

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 How to stop overthinking?

It's common to want to blame another person for feeling the way you do, but in fact, the cause of the emotional reaction is your own perspective. The cause of your emotional reaction is not outside of yourself. It is entirely within your control to change. “Step out of the drama triangle and take responsibility. We all face some different problems in our lives and assume ourselves the victim. We can either be with the mercy of our thoughts and allow them to waste our time and energy, or take charge and be the master of our minds. Instead of acting like a victim of circumstances one should become self-aware and take responsibility” quoted Brack Nelson, Marketing Manager of Incrementors SEO Services.

This is done through mindfulness and somatic (body-based) practices like bringing awareness to physical sensations, deepening the breath, giving oneself deep pressure, getting the body moving, or listening to soothing music, to name a few. The trick here is to make these mind/body practices an ongoing habit so one can retrain their mind toward self-soothing whenever overthinking is detected. Just like the mind got into the habit of overthinking to escape pain, it needs to get into the habit of restoring calm to the body with mindfulness.

The primal step in stopping these overthinking behaviors is first, recognize that it's happening. It's really difficult to stop something if you don't realize it's occurring. The next step is to accept the fact that no amount of overthinking (or overanalyzing for that matter) will control the outcome because there absolutely is no way to control an outcome! There also is no way to redo or undo a situation that has already occurred so no amount of overthinking will change the past. It's important to remind yourself that the worst-case scenarios rarely happen. Usually, things turn out much better than we had anticipated. Furthermore, even if the worst-case scenario happens, you WILL get through it! We underestimate our abilities to handle difficult situations but we are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit to.

If overthinking is due to some concern over a future event, here are a few tips(By Josephine Lombardi, Theologian)

 1. If you have convinced yourself of an outcome and this is causing you to overthink, ask yourself, "How do I know this is true? How do I know this is going to happen?" It's very important to examine or investigate our fears. Fear can make us irrational, paralyzing us with worry.

2. Worry cannot change anything. Worrying can't cause something to happen and it cannot prevent something from happening; it is useless. Sometimes overthinking is due to worry regarding the thoughts of others. Over attachment to the thoughts of others or the desire to please can lead to overthinking. Again, fear is at the root of this overthinking. It takes courage to be detached, risking criticism, especially if you have spoken truthfully.

3. Examine what you know-what are the facts regarding your current situation? 

Meditation has helped people clear their minds and help them focus on the good things of life, if you are also an overthinker and nothing else has worked for you, you must try meditation. Overthinking can be reduced by engaging in a pleasurable task. By focusing your thoughts inward, you can help rid your mind of nervous noise by developing a daily meditation practice.

Distraction is one of the best possible ways to get away with things. If you have a habit of overthinking, you can start surfing your time in other fruitful activities like reading a book, cooking, painting, and many more.

Even just writing out your thoughts can feel therapeutic and allows you to get it out of your head. Seeing your thoughts may help you think and understand more clearly. Let yourself feel your emotions. Sometimes we’re overthinking to find a new explanation for a stressful life event, an argument, or just a tough situation. We’re searching for answers and protection from emotional vulnerability. Allowing yourself to express those emotions, to cry or yell, might help you move forward and clear your head. 

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Concluding: 'How to stop overthinking?'

It is said that your thoughts become your reality so it’s best to let go of regret and fears of the unknown and do whatever you can to push yourself to try to live in the moment. As rightly stated by  Jon Kabat-Zinn "I can't stop the waves, but I can learn to surf." Lastly, train yourself and your brain to avoid doing so. You have to make a conscious effort to train your mind to stop overthinking all the situations. It is not that easy but possible.

 I hope my article, 'How To Stop Over Thinking? Effective ways to deal with overthinking' is of assistance. Subscribe for updates and get all latest updates delivered straight into your inbox.


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