Stop Overthinking: 7 Easy Ways to Kick This Bad Habit

LIFE & WORK SKILLS   
 Overthinking is like doing jumping jacks — lots of movement but going nowhere. And it’s just as exhausting.
We’ve all been there: Everyone overthinks situations from time to time. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to think things through; by looking at a situation from all angles and weighing the options, we can move forward with confidence. But overthinking can also become chronic when we repeatedly rehash past situations and second-guess every decision. This kind of overthinking can make us moody and anxious and prevent us from getting anything done.“Worrying is a human problem, and it’s normal to try and resolve those worries. But it’s important to manage this mindset,” says Linda Benjamin, a clinical social worker and self-proclaimed worrier. “If you don’t tackle your worries, they become bigger and more fearful. You make a place for the worries in your mind.”

If you’re stuck in your own mind loop, here are some ways to free yourself from overthinking.

1. Pause.

The key is to notice when you start to overthink, says Benjamin. The first step in addressing the habit of overthinking is to recognize when it’s happening. When you start to feel anxious or doubting, take note of how you’re responding.

2. Do Something Different.

Allow yourself to own how your feeling in the moment, but recognize when your mind is going into overdrive and do something about it. In other words, distract yourself! This could be anything from reading a good book, watching Netflix, cooking, or going for a walk.

3. Challenge Your Fear Of Failing.

If you find yourself overthinking a decision at work or worrying about a potential outcome, consider that your fear of failure may be holding you back from success. It’s time to pass on perfection — in reality, those who don’t make mistakes are unlikely to make anything at all. Embracing the possibility of failure gives us the freedom to try.

4. Think About What Can Go Right.

Overthinking tends to be negative and self-defeating. Rather than ruminating on all the possible ways a situation could go wrong, consider what could go right.

5. Put Things In Perspective.

It’s easy to make things bigger and more negative than they need to be. This is especially true of creatives, whose active imaginations can construct vivid, worry-filled scenarios. But if you take a moment to really think about the situation and its place in the bigger picture of your life, will it really matter in a year? Five years? Ten? Simply setting a timeframe can ward off overthinking.

6. Practice Gratefulness.

It’s impossible to have a grateful thought and a regretful one at the same time, and making time to practice daily gratefulness can help your mind “change the channel” to the positive. Jot down what you’re grateful for so you can look back on all the good things around you.

7. Repeat…

Because the habit of overthinking will creep up again. And that’s okay, says Benjamin. “The tendency to overthink may never go away, per se, but it is something that can be controlled in time, something you can help yourself with. Life is short; it’s nice to be there when it happens.”

Do you tend to overthink? What are your strategies for working through it?

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