5 tips from experts to help you stop overthinking

Girl Waiting For Sleep
Flickr | Alyssa L. Miller

As much as you’d like to, sometimes it can be difficult to shut off your brain. Especially when you’re lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. What starts as a simple thought quickly escalates to a series of “what if” questions. Then comes the rush of anxiety and now you’re not only exhausted but also feeling a little bit on edge.

Does that sounds familiar? If so, you might be a chronic overthinker and, surprisingly, you’re in good company. A psychology professor from the University of Michigan found in a study that the majority of middle-aged adults are plagued with overthinking, finding that a whopping 73 percent of 25-35-year-olds identified as overthinkers. Now that’s a lot to think about.

With our ever-busier lifestyles and increasing responsibilities, it’s no wonder that, sometimes, our thoughts can get the best of us. Thankfully, some professionals are willing to share their expert knowledge to help us curb the overthinking process and feel a little more balanced.

1. Realize When The Process Is Happening

Overthinking is merely a bad habit and, honestly, you might not even know you’re doing it. But by being more cognizant of your daily thoughts, you can start to catch yourself in the act and put an end to it.

For example, if you notice you’re re-playing the same event in your head over and over again, simply acknowledge those thoughts and move on. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action, writes psychotherapist Amy Morin over at Inc.

2. Find Perspective

It’s easy for a situation to escalate—in one’s mind—into something more negative or worse than it needs to be. So the next time you think you might be making a mountain out of a tiny mole hill, stop yourself in your tracks. Lolly Daskal, president and CEO of Lead from Within, writes on Inc. that one good question to ask yourself is, “How much will this matter in five years?”

3. Divert Your Focus

There is nothing helpful about dwelling upon a problem. Instead, try thinking of your problem in a different light. If you have a little control, try to come up with several different solutions to prevent the issue.

If the problem is something you have little to no control over, such as a natural disaster, try to think about ways in which you can cope with—not change—the situation.

The two things you can control in any situation, writes Morin, are your effort and attitude.

4. Reflect

Taking some time to reflect each day can be beneficial. We’re not saying to dwell upon what went wrong. Rather, learn from your mistakes, think about how you can do things differently in the future and remind yourself of all that went right during the day.

The trick is to save all of those over-analyzed thoughts for your “reflection time” and, once that’s over, let it really be over. If you start to feel the thoughts coming back, remind yourself to save them for your next session of reflection, writes Daskal.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool to help you live more in the moment. And when you’re living in the moment, it’s hard to mentally relive the past or worry about the future.

There are so many benefits that come with mindfulness and plenty of books to help you get started practicing the art.

Like all habits, changing your thought patterns can be a challenge. But with consistent practice, you’ll be able to train your brain into a much more positive and productive mindset.


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About the Author
Megan Fenno
Freelance Writer. Accessory Designer. Blogger. Digital Content Producer. Wife. Lover of Cincinnati, Ohio and mom to a 6 year-old stud.

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