Ways to Stop Overthinking – Ultimate Guide!

Ways to Stop Overthinking – Ultimate Guide!

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Today we will be sharing information on ways to stop overthinking.

Everyone overthinks sometimes. It becomes problematic when someone finds it difficult to stop having the same thoughts.

From there, it gets easy to slip into a circular pattern of thinking and move on to severe stress and anxiety.

Overthinking is something we all do at one time or another. Still, many people find that constant overthinking plagues their lives.

Overthinking has been linked to mental issues such as depression and anxiety.

It can cause a decline in mental health, and when that happens, you’re even more likely to overthink. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you overthink, you can find yourself having trouble in your work life, social life, and other aspects of life.

Your work and relationships may suffer, and you may also experience a range of unpleasant physical symptoms.

Relaxing may seem impossible at first, but learning how to stop overthinking and begin relaxing will have a significant impact on your happiness and health.

Overthinking can be debilitating to those who can’t seem to get out of their own heads. If this resonates with you, here is a simple guide with 14 tips to help you relax.



What is overthinking?

Overthinking is simply what it sounds like – thinking too much. But how much is too much?

The answer is when it causes noticeable discomfort and anxiety.

When we care about something, we can develop unhealthy levels of worry about it.

Overthinking tends to be associated with ruminating on things that have already happened, whereas anxiety is the fear of what may happen.

Nervousness can sometimes help us to pay more attention and do our best, but overthinking can become an unhealthy condition quickly.

Some personality types are more prone to overthinking than others.

Those who already have conditions like depression and anxiety may be more susceptible to overthink outcomes in situations.


Why is overthinking so harmful?

Some people are only occasionally plagued with overthinking, but for others it can be a daily debilitating burden.

Overthinking is toxic to our mental and physical health.

First it affects our emotional health.

Studies have found that people who tend to overthink regularly are more likely to get depressed than those who do not, and women are even more prone to overthinking than men.

It creates stress and anxiety, which then impacts our physical health which can cause a lowered immune system, stomach issues, headaches, and chronic pain.

Overthinking can keep us from making important decisions or even simple ones.


We struggle so much with which is the right decision that sometimes we end up not taking any action at all and staying in limbo.

We doubt ourselves and assume the worst will happen, so we give up and don’t try anything.

When we assume we can’t, it’s guaranteed we won’t.” – Don’t Overthink It

We stay up late into the night worrying about what to do, or going over the past questioning decisions we made, replaying scenes in our minds wishing we’d done things differently.

In the past, I’ve personally laid awake all night many times struggling with toxic thoughts, until I learned how to stop the cycle of overthinking at night.

I learned that you can either be in the river with your thoughts, or you can swim to the shore.

Getting out of the river doesn’t automatically stop the flow of your thoughts, but when you step outside of them, they don’t create as much of an emotional reaction and you can gain some control.


What are the symptoms of overthinking?

Some signs and symptoms that you may be overthinking include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Over-analysis
  • Hard time letting things go
  • Perfectionism
  • Racing thoughts
  • Self-criticism
  • Catastrophizing
  • Procrastination
  • Feeling like your brain is stuck ‘on’
  • Anxiety
  • Physical tension

If you are experiencing any, or all, of these, don’t worry, I have some powerful ideas for you to try in order to stop overthinking and relax.

The first thing I will say is that none of these are quick fixes, they all take practice –  they are all useful things to have.

If one thing doesn’t work, you may well find that something else does.

It might not be immediate, these tips become more powerful with practice.


Ways to Stop Overthinking – Ultimate Guide!

Here are 14 tips to get you out of the habit of overthinking:


Become aware of the spiral

The first step to overcome overthinking is to become aware of it on a conscious level.

Stepping out of the flow of toxic overthinking allows you the opportunity to change the direction of your thoughts.

You can pull a mental lever and redirect the river of your thoughts to a calmer path.

To do this start to take note of how you’re feeling throughout the day.

When you notice yourself feeling down or stressed tune into your inner dialog. What thoughts are you thinking?

Are you ruminating on the past or worrying about the future?

Are you talking down about yourself? Are you obsessing over what someone else did?

Identify the source of your wayward thoughts and then use one or more of the following strategies to help you stop overthinking everything.


Create a trigger for positive thoughts

Once you become aware of the overthinking spiral, create a trigger that prompts you to redirect your thoughts (pulling the lever).

Telling yourself to stop thinking about something doesn’t always work, sometimes it causes you to think about that thing even more.

However, if you redirect your thoughts, you’re less likely to circle back to the thing you were stressing about

When I notice I’m in a negative thought spiral I think the word ‘spiral’ and that triggers me to think about something harmless.

This especially helps me to stop overthinking at night when my brain doesn’t have anything else to do but replay events from the past that were upsetting or embarrassing, or worry about the future.

Sometimes my brain goes back to the unwanted train of thought, but I just pull the lever again (thinking the word spiral) and redirect as many times as needed.


Listen to your intuition, not fear

Overthinking is part of the fear response from your Ego.

The ego likes to be safe and it loves your comfort zone and routines.

If you threaten what your ego perceives to be safety of your comfort zone, it will go a little crazy.

It’ll trigger your fear response to keep you from ‘danger.

Your ego will chime in with a chaotic bombardment of second guessing, what if-ing, and doomsday projections.

It’ll be completely irrational, but because you’re so used to trusting that voice it’ll take you along for the ride.

You can stop overthinking by learning to recognise your intuition so that you have certainty that you’re on the right path.

When you do this, you can calm your ego’s fear response.


Don’t focus on what can go wrong 

A lot of overthinking stems from fear. Instead of focusing on what can go wrong, try to think about what can go right instead.

Mental clarity takes mindfulness to achieve, so mastering this first step of focus is crucial.

When you find yourself asking, ‘What if this goes wrong?‘ Stop immediately, and ask, ‘What if this goes right?

Your brain will automatically attempt to answer the question you have asked – whether that question is positive or negative.

So, catch yourself before your thoughts begin to negatively spiral.


Learn how to meditate

Meditation tools, when taught the right way, can be powerful ways to bring you into the present moment.

Here in the west, we are so conditioned into spending so many hours of our day doing, thinking and analysing.

That most people really struggle to stop, struggle to relax especially relax properly.

Now meditation helps because it encourages more space, more freedom between our thoughts.

Meditation helps us connect with our own inner peace, our own inner calm, and our own inner guidance.

It helps us reconnect with the self and less distracted by thoughts that are not facts.

It also helps us not be pulled in by the external distortion and manipulation of the world and media around us.



Practice Mindfulness

Regular practice of Mindfulness helps to control overthinking. Mindfulness does not attempt to suppress or cut down the disturbing thoughts.

Instead, it trains the mind to accept the thoughts that arise without judging them or holding on to them and letting them go.

The overthinker in a mindful state no more tries to control, change, or reduce the thoughts.

It is this letting go of the meddlesome thoughts that paradoxically reduce their frequency in the long run.


In a meta-study of 11 studies, Clinical psychologist Lilisbeth Perestelo-Perez, Ph.D., M.Psych, and others found Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) can reduce overthinking significantly.

The mindfulness methods were equally effective in controlling rumination as medication and CBT.

They also found the positive effects of mindfulness were present even a month after the end of MCBT.



Create rituals and routines

Creating rituals or routines can take away some of the stress of making daily decisions. Humans get decision fatigue.

As the day goes on it gets harder to make rational, clear-headed decisions.

This can lead to your mind making things more complicated than they should be.

A routine is a series of linked behaviours.

With enough repetition your routine becomes a habit and you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.

If you overthink whether or not to workout every day, make it part of your routine by linking it to another habit.

Eventually it’s just something you do, not something you have to think about.



Realise that most people aren’t paying much attention

We tend to assume that everyone around us notices the things we say and do.

This is called the Spotlight Effect. It’s an illusion because most people are much more interested in themselves than anyone else.

People will forget your embarrassing moments quickly.

Think back to the last time a friend of yours slipped up in a social situation.

Unless it was very recently or had dramatic consequences, you probably can’t remember it.

Remembering this can help you feel less anxious about making mistakes.


Watch our energy flow

“Overthinking is often a product of underdoing.”
~ Yehuda Berg

Just as everyone has 24 hours a day, we only have so much energy each day.

When we focus on one thing, something has got to give.

So, I got conscious of what other important things I might neglect while my energy is being spent on overthinking.

I keep reminding myself I can control where I place my awareness at any moment.

We have the luxury of choosing what to focus on.

No one is pointing a gun at you and me to overthink while neglecting some other important aspects of our life.

Overthinking and worrying are all our own doing, therefore, we can undo them.

It may seem hard at first.

Start by observing where you’re letting your energy flow.

Keep moving it back to the correct paths each time it goes off track.

You’ll soon learn to stop overthinking and relax.


Let it out

When a situation or circumstance upsets us, it’s hard not to rerun it over and over in our heads.

You might need to just release it all somehow.

One way you can do that is by talking to somehow.

Let them know what you’ve been feeling about whatever recently happened to you.

Tell them the things that you’ve been unable to just stop wondering about.

Talking everything out can help reduce how much you dwell on an event.


You could also write your musings out as well.

I’ve utilised journaling in the past to get stuff that’s been stuck in my head out.

Whichever outlet you choose, taking time to release those words circling around inside will help ease your emotions.

Pondering something too much doesn’t have to be a problem you live with.

When you take a few steps to comfort yourself, you’ll find that you won’t dwell so much on negative emotions.



Develop self-compassion

We can all be too hard, demanding and uncompassionate towards ourselves.

Especially about decisions, we have made in the past or even in our present situation.

Because we are so over-identified with who we think we are or are supposed to be.

This leaves us emptier and more confused, and more likely to fall into jobs and roles that do not fill our souls.

Self-compassion can teach us how to giving ourselves the same compassion and understanding we give to those around us.



Stop waiting for perfection 

Perfection is not as important as progress.

News flash: perfection doesn’t exist!

Many overthinkers are perfectionists, and they will avoid making decisions or taking action because they are afraid of getting it wrong.

Letting go of the idea of perfection is one of the essential steps to allow your mind to rest.

Imperfections are perfectly normal, and many people aim for ‘good’ or ‘good enough.’

The actual doing and learning are more important than getting it ‘perfectly’ right.



Overthinking can lead to anxiety and puts us in a ‘fight or flight’ mode.

This fight or flight reaction leaves us with pent-up energy which has to go somewhere.

If we don’t do something to release this it will stay in the body and mind as tension.

A gentle walk outside for half an hour is enough to help release pent-up energy.

Ideally, if you can, then do something a bit more energetic that raises your heart rate a little – I guarantee you will feel better.


Books can put new ideas in your mind

Books are refreshers. They are atom bomb-level ideas packed into an area that fits in your palms.

Books can divert your thoughts. They teleport you into a parallel universe – in your imagination, of course.

As you read, your mind comes out of the painful memories and flourishes again with good thoughts.


Ways to stop overthinking – final thoughts

If you don’t get on top of your overthinking, you may begin to lose control.

Acknowledging that you have a problem, and taking steps to overcome it will help you feel better.

It’s time you were the boss of your own life once more!

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!

If you have any questions please reach out to me via adam@adam-lawrence.org. I would love to hear from you!

I really hope you found inspiration in this article.







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