Stop Overthinking:
7 Ways!

Stop Overthinking: 7 Ways!

Sometimes, when I am facing a crisis or if I have an important decision to make, I fall into the trap of overthinking. I get stuck in a spiral of thoughts that go over it again and again.

A spiral of thoughts without a break nor an insight whatsoever. The kind of thinking that does nothing but perpetuate it’s own existence. The result: mental exhaustion.

Unfortunately, breaking the cycle isn’t as easy as just snapping out of it. There seems to be no off switch. Simply telling myself to stop it, is like pushing a beach ball under the water: the harder you push, the farther it will pop up.

To be quite frankly, I am done with my overthinking mind. That overthinking mind full of chaos that holds me back from moving forward in life. That overthinking mind that makes me feel anxious and worried about the future. I want to better control that overthinking mind, in order to stop worrying and start living.

So to research this subject [or any subject for that matter] I started with browsing the web to read articles and blogposts on the subject. And I found some great strategies that, applied with patience, might keep overthinking from overtaking my life. I am going to use them for sure!

Here they are! Seven strategies to keep overthinking from overtaking your life!

Take action

Overthinking is also called analysis paralysis. Overthinking slows you down, gets you stuck in the analysis phase of a problem and paralisys is the outcome. So become a person of action. If you’re in a situation where you know you need to act, and want to act, but you’re trapped in your head, take the first step towards doing whatever it is. Even if it’s a baby step. Just get started, taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time.

Put things into a wider perspective

It is very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life. So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks? Look at your problems through an independent observer’s eyes and decide whether the end of the world is really that near.

Redirect your attention

Do something that requires you to concentrate. An activity that’s absorbing. Not driving, not walking, not running. These activities are far too easy to go onto autopilot and re-visit the chaos in your head. Play an instrument, learn to speak Italian, solve a Sudoku puzzle, anything that requires you to have to actively engage your brain.

Set short time limits for decisions

If you do not have a time limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.
So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it is a small or bigger decision. For example:

  • For small decisions like if you should go and do the dishes, call your mom or work out, give yourself 30 seconds or less to make that decision.
  • For somewhat larger decisions that would normally take you days or weeks to think through use a deadline 30 minutes or ‘before the end of the workday’.

Resist the urge to ‘talk it out’

Women love to talk to their best friend about what’s keeping her mind busy. And while brainstorming solutions with a friend is great, dissecting and constantly revisiting [negative] details of a problem with someone is can send you further into despair. This is called co-rumination [as in that thing a cow does when it constantly rechews food]. Studies have linked co-rumination between female friends to a significant increase in the stress hormone cortisol.

Spend more time in the present moment

It’s difficult to control what you think. But those thoughts don’t have to control you. By being in the present moment in your everyday life, rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind, you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.

  • Slow down. Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now. Or
  • Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting ‘STOP!’ to yourself. Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to breathe and focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.

Be patient

Overthinking can be a stubborn problem, so you may struggle a bit at first. The last thing you need to do is overthink the fact that you can’t stop overthinking. Accept. Don’t overthink. Be patient, move forward and embrace the chaos. These steps definitely get easier with practice!


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How about you?
Are you an overthinker? How do you stop it?
Or maybe you were an overthinker? How did you overcome this?
Simply post your comments and wisdom in the comment box below!

Mirjam Stoffels

Founder of seven2success, author of ‘Daily Little Secrets to Success’ and guest blogger at Project Eve and 365 dagen succesvol. In my mission to make seven2success the biggest platform of knowledge and inspiration for women, I want to inspire you with our content! Check us out on Facebook and Twitter! I’d love to connect!  And do you want to inspire other women? Write for us!

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