I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who overthinks. Overthinking is known for being a thief of joy. It causes issues when there are none. Causes you to no longer be in the present. It makes you find the tiniest sign that not all is well. It causes you to think about things that happened ten years ago or worry about things that may never happen. It makes you not want to do things when you originally wanted to do them. It causes you to make up scenarios in your head that may never happen. It makes you walk around with a constant worry. It causes you to miss conversations. It causes you to think of the worst possible scenario.
Lately, I have been trying to come up with ways to combat overthinking. To stop it in its tracks, or well, to make it a little easier to handle.
Below are five tips that I have found to be helpful for me. Hopefully, it will help you some as well!
1. Collect Evidence
This has been one of the most useful tips for me. A lot of my overthinking encompasses my relationships and my future. One tiny thing triggers it. A photo. A random thought. A song. Anything really. I become triggered, then it starts. It makes me believe that everyone is lying to me and no one wants to be around me. Or I will always be a failure. So when someone says something good or sends me something sweet, I collect it, so I can look back at these moments to combat my overthinking. For example, I may screenshot sweet texts from my boyfriend, or write down things people say, or write down good memories, or even try to be present in all the good moments so I can recall them. It’s forcing myself to see the good. Its collecting evidence so I can look at it or remember it when my overthinking takes over.
So think of the things that you often overthink about. Your career. Your relationships. A past mistake. Then when you are in a good state of mind, think of all the evidence that can help to stop you from overthinking. Sometimes it can even be a quote just about how you can’t change the past, but you can learn and move forward. Or a photo that always brings you joy. This might be difficult to come up with ideas but do your best.
2. Have a list of activities that bring you to the present moment.
As I said in the beginning, overthinking causes us not be present and miss where we are now. Have a list of activities ready – on your phone, in your wallet, written on the wall – to remind yourself of what you can do to bring yourself back. Some of mine are puzzles, smelling essential oils, meditation, or going for a walk. Small activities that can help remind you of where you are now. What is happening now. Help you realize that maybe what you are overthinking about is not a concern to be tackled in the present moment. Making a list will make it easier to access when your mind is elsewhere.
Exercising has a way of making me focus. It has a way of quieting my mind. There was one time my mind wouldn’t stop based on people that someone was following on social media. I started acting out at that my person because my mind was overthinking it and coming up with lies. I took a step back, put on my running shoes, and went for a run. I came back feeling brand new. I know there are many studies out there talking about how exercise helps, and it’s true. Find what helps you. My go-to is running, but maybe yours is yoga or just going for a walk. When your mind starts going, and you can, exercise. Even making a habit of it will help. It can help you feel refreshed. It can give you a new start when overthinking wants to drag you down.
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4. Distract Yourself
Overthinking can come out of nowhere. Overthinking can also sometimes be triggered. When something happens, and over thinking becomes all-consuming, I sometimes do anything I can to distract myself. This usually comes in the form of a puzzle and a television show. It gets me to focus on something other than my thoughts. It might not be the healthiest way to handle it, but it helps for a few moments. It allows to compose myself. It allows me to think of something else for a bit. That’s okay to do. It’s okay to distract yourself instead of trying to figure out where your over thinking is stemming from. Drink tea. Read a book. Watch a movie. Visit a friend. Draw. Do what works for you for distracting yourself. Give your mind a break. Give yourself a break.
5. Get it all out then move on
Sometimes I do need just to let it all out. All my thoughts. Sometimes I write them down in the form of thought bubbles. Other times I write it out as an article. Sometime’s it is talking to a friend or my therapist. Sometime’s it’s just by crying. It’s cathartic to let it out. Find the way that works for you. But being able to release it can be incredibly useful. It can get it out of your head. Often, overthinking keeps us trapped in our minds. By giving it some type of release, you are letting it no longer have a hold on you.
These five tips probably won’t be a cure-all. It’s a start though. Fighting overthinking is a constant process. It’s never going to be easy. But these five tips are what helps me survive it. It helps me not to research my intrusive thoughts. It helps me not become overwhelmed. It helps me have a chance to breathe. It gives me the opportunity not to become upset about things that are not true. It provides a moment to remember not to believe everything I think. Overthinking will probably always be a part of my life, but now I know ways that I can handle it before it takes control.