Do you ever find yourself wishing that you could simply get out of your head? To unsubscribe from your own thoughts for a short period of time?
I think overthinking things is a pretty relatable experience.
Maybe you’re like me and you lie in bed and every awkward or embarrassing experience from the past 10 years comes streaking into your mind and won’t stop.
Or maybe you’re also like me in that you sometimes just can’t stop overthinking and over-analyzing certain problems and life or professional scenarios.
I overthink things.
I tend to be analytical and detail-oriented in a professional setting but when it starts to seep into my personal life, it is quite frustrating.
Just put it to rest Case! Turn your brain off for a minute!
We all have busy minds and as one progresses through adulthood, our minds are filled with more and more serious matters that have impact on our lives in more ways than we might realize.
While you might think that instead of avoiding the thoughts and responsibilities of adulthood floating in your mind, analyzing the details and trying to work out a solution or strategy is the mature and strategic approach, this overthinking is draining you.
As I have progressed in my career and age, the things on my mind are drastically different than those of years prior. As they increase in significance and importance, so does the need to consciously separate from them.
I identified this a couple years ago, and as a result. I have a series of practices I put into place when I want to rest my mind and actively control my thoughts.
I learned how to stop overthinking in life.
If you’re into mindfulness, mediation or zen habits, I think you’ll find this interesting.
Here are the 8 ways I use to control my thoughts that teach me how stop overthinking things.
1. Realize this.
“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want to happen.”
Whenever I am confronted with the burden of my thoughts, I turn to the wisdom of Iron Man. Robert Downy Jr. said this and I find it incredibly helpful when your worries start to get the best of you. Understanding this helps relieve some of the pressure of your thoughts and the potential repercussions of the considerations you are making.
Remind yourself of this and make an attempt to shift the perspective of your thoughts. A lot of it comes down to whether you intrinsically are a glass half-full or half-empty person but I have found that with enough effort and consistency, you can train your mind to focus on positive perspectives of most scenarios. Instead of allowing your mind to continue to focus on what could go wrong, focus on what might go right.
Adopting this perspective will not prevent you from over-thinking or worrying, but it will allow you to lessen the force and control your thoughts have so that the practices to follow will have greater impact and staying power.
Whenever I find myself overthinking, I remove myself from that setting. I usually turn to the gym.
The best way to take your mind off something is to turn it to how much something sucks… aka the pain and discomfort of exercise.
Head to the gym and find a challenging workout. The feelings of exertion, exhaustion and fatigue will take your mind off your problems. I guarantee it.
Pick something that requires coordination, mental concentration and endurance. In my experience, this combination resets your mind and leaves you more clear-sighted and less weighed down by cyclical thinking.
3. Be mindful.
Sometimes when you’re overthinking something or cannot escape the cycle of your own thoughts, it’s because you don’t realize that they are controlling you. You are not active in your own mind. You are in lean-back mode and as a result, your mind is leading the charge.
It’s time you wore the pants in the relationship with your mind and the best way to do this is to become more mindful and aware.
There are many different ways to do this but I have found the most effective way to do so it the following. It only takes 2-3 minutes.
- Stop what you are doing. Sit down wherever you are.
- Focus on your breathing. Be aware of the way your body reacts to your breathing.
- Sit still for 2-3 minutes and just observe. Notice your surroundings. The sky. The floor of your apartment. The ticking of your kitchen clock. The people walking by.
- Focus on your breathing
While this might seem a bit silly, I have found it allows me to regain control of my mind by absorbing myself in the elements influencing it. You are telling your mind what to notice. You are in control and you are telling it which stimuli to notice and pay attention to.
Much like exercise, this new focus of input allows you to reset your mind.
4. Get a hobby man.
This one always does the trick for me. I have always been a proponent for having a consistent creative outlet, whether that is painting, blogging, designing, coding, writing, etc. It serves two purposes – it provides a means to create, think individually, nurture cognitive function, etc. But more importantly, it also provides an escape.
When your thoughts are overwhelming you, turn to your creative outlet and immerse yourself in it. Immerse yourself in the skills, coordination or repetition that it requires. Turn your mind to the comfort or challenge of your chosen craft and away from the thoughts or worries that are chasing you.
Even if it is as simple as a video game, turn to this activity.
Meditation can help a lot. Much like my point on mindfulness above, practiced meditation can reset your mind in wonderful ways, leaving you unburdened and refreshed. Literally doing nothing can help reset your mind.
This differs from my mindfulness practice which is a spur of the moment tactic you can implement anywhere, anytime. Meditation should be practiced in as calm, quiet and soothing environment as possible.
Use an app like Headspace to practice regular meditation sessions.
6. Goals man. Goals.
Why am I such a big advocate of not being realistic about accomplishment and setting, writing down and working towards goals?
Well one, because duh!
But two, because the more goal oriented I have become, the more I have found myself able to separate things that matter and things that do not. When I find myself overthining small, somewhat mundane things, I turn to my large goals and this really puts things into perspective for me.
When you have tangible goals that you work towards, they cause you to be more mindful of the things you worry about and over-analyze. When you have large goals as the lighthouse in your life, the smaller items will be just that – smaller. This will allow you to separate them from your mind, give them less hold over you and allow you to relax.
If you deem your overthinking incapable of being treated with any of the above practices, I have found that one of the best practices to get them out of head once and for all is to do just that- – get them out of your head.
I do this by simply writing them down.
To do so, you first have to listen. Don’t write down what you think you want to hear. You must actively listen to what is on your mind – what it is truly telling you.
Focus on each thought in your head as it appears and reappears.
Write them down as if they are speaking to you.
Once you have written them down, address each one… out loud.
This might seem crazy like you are having a conversation with yourself but in reality that is exactly what you are doing. You are addressing your thoughts head on, engaging in discourse and then concluding your conversation. That is how you silence your thoughts.
I’d love to hear about the ways you deal with overthinking and an over-active mind! Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
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