I’m a staunch proponent of the examined life, with years and years of therapy under my well-being belt. This close dissection of life means I can sometimes overthink just about anything and everything.
I’ve always wished there’d been a place on my job resume that allowed for excellence in rehashing both simple and complex events, problems, and solutions. If the goal of the job had been the ability to question, tear apart, reassemble, and brood over things, I’d be president of the company. Okay, I think I’ve made my point here.
Are you someone who is a chronic overthinker on everything or perhaps just a few issues? Certainly, the events of our world can make it easy to spend time with our unproductive thoughts.
Here are three, no-cost tactics to stop overthinking and focus on the now:
- Go easy: chastising yourself for overthinking won’t stop you from doing it. It’s more helpful to just catch yourself and move on in a different direction, either in a physical or mental way. Take a breath to clear your mind and to gain a ‘big picture’ perspective, which will allow you to shift your focus to the now.
- Let go of perfectionism: it’s said overthinking and perfectionism go together. It’s not possible to be a perfect human being or create a perfect product like a painting of written chapter. To try to do so invites anxiety. Next time you lean toward berating yourself for an imperfection or the next time you avoid a task altogether so you won’t risk anything less than being perfect, try identifying new ways of doing old tasks, or try coming up with new ideas. Ideally, do what you want and when mistakes happen, regret them, and then let go.
- Get outside and/or exercise: it’s more difficult to stay stuck in your head when your mind is bombarded with other sensations like those of color, smell, and sounds in nature. It’s also pretty difficult to overthink when you’re exercising. Working then relaxing muscles can be helpful in calming down the body and mind.
A final strategy that works best for me is to stay away from social and news media when I’m running an anxiety loop in my head and am unable to step off the mouse wheel. If I’m overthinking the political world, the news media won’t help me relax. All news programs, even the ones on ‘our side,’ are designed to hold your attention by making you emotionally charged and anxious. If you feel the need to stay informed, the newspaper is a better method to get information; read it and then move on.
‘If you’re like me, it’s easy to get sucked into online and TV newscast programs, especially those where I admire the commentator. I can suddenly snap out of it only after I’m practically sick to my stomach with all the negative things being reported.
Overthinking can give us a false sense of being in control. It can ruin our day, and it can negatively impact our sleep.
There is a treasure trove of resources available about mental health and overthinking. Don’t let this habit rob you of peace and happiness.