What is overthinking
“To think about something for too long or for too much”
Thinking about things is not usually a problem, but when we can’t get the thoughts out of our head, this is when it becomes an issue or problem.
Not being able to turn those thoughts off.
Worrying about the future, overthinking and catastrophising situations and events, especially those that are unlikely to happen.
Worrying about past events or situations, the “what if’s” the “should haves” the “could’ves”. The worry about what other people think leads to the negative self-talk that builds up in our heads.
It could be that
- you are afraid you will take the wrong action.
- you may worry about what others think.
- fear is often at the route of it.
These tend to be the main ways people overthink, be aware of what is driving the overthinking or worry. Then ask yourself
“Is this fact or an opinion?”
Keep asking this question about all the things that crop up.
If it is fact, find a solution, and look for a way to solve the problem.
If it is an opinion, look for a way to challenge it or flip it upside down and let it go.
Tony Robbins mentions something called,
“paralysis by analysis”
We get so stuck in our heads going through all the options of “what to do”, “what I should have done”, that we end up doing nothing.
But no action is keeping you in this cycle, so the wrong action will be better than no action.
There are 2 forms of overthinking or worry –
-Dwelling on the past, which can look like
-I should’ve done this
-I should’ve done that
– I shouldn’t have acted that way
– I shouldn’t have done that
Past events you are looking back over and running through your mind.
- Over worrying about the future
- What is this happens
- What is that occurs
- What will I do
- I will never work
- I will never succeed
Events that haven’t occurred and may never occur go around in your mind.
Some Tips to help
1) Notice when you are in your head
Be aware of the times you are stuck in your head, they can become a habit we do not notice. Become aware of how much time you are stuck in your past or future thoughts. Recognising it will help you to be more aware and put things in place.
2) When its a problem, focus on solving it
Rather than focusing on the problem train your brain to learn to find solutions to solve it. Challenge yourself to find 5 solutions to the problem.
If it is something out of your control, find the ways you want to be able to deal with the emotions around it.
Look for what you can and do have the ability to control.
3) Take Action
When it is something you can do something about, take action and do something. Don’t let the overthinking stop you from TAKING ACTION.
4) Distract yourself into happiness
What makes you smile? Music, dancing, exercise, drawing, colouring, writing, a funny film or series, phone a friend or family member (they may also help you to put things in perspective), walking in nature. Move away from the fear and overthinking, into a space of happiness.
5) Belly Breathing
This is a simple technique you can do that allows you to be more present. When you are overthinking you are either living in the past or the future, where you need to be is in the present. Belly breathing can help you to be more present and be in the moment.
Focus on steady breathing into your belly, this can be done almost anywhere, and it is very portable.
This technique can also be very helpful at night-time.
6) Overthinking at bedtime
Look at your bedtime routine and see if you can adjust it in ways to help you to go to bed calmly (I will be creating a guide about sleep, which will have much more information than I have room for here).
For times when your mind will not calm, try telling yourself a positive story, make up stories in your mind, and let your creative juices flow. Create lists of things you need to do the following day, and go through the day in your mind. Do little mind games, for example, count back from 100 in 3s, pick a topic, let’s say bands, now begin with the letter A and go through the alphabet, A for ABBA, B for Black Eyed Peas, C for Coldplay, I am sure you get the drift.
I hope you find these tips useful.