We all have been told numerous times by elders, teachers and peers, “stop overthinking!”, wish it was so easy. We are the slaves of our mind, roaming in a never-ending labyrinth, designed, produced and directed by us.
Thinking too much leads to paralysis from analysis.
Overthinking normally happens when we are by ourselves, this is the time when our brain entertains us through the process of procrastination. Just think about the time when you were neck deep in work, at office, home or otherwise and you were overthinking. No, it doesn’t happen when we are occupied. It is a luxury enjoyed by idle people. So often people confuse overthinking with problem-solving. But what ends up happening is we go in a loop, where it leads to loss of connection with the real world. We find peace spending more time in our head as the loop becomes a habit. This habit makes the most overconfident people suspicious or unsure.
Overthinking is triggered by a negative past experience or when you feel vulnerable about the future. It is a state of mind, which is caused by self-doubt, self-esteem issues, traumatic experiences or anxiety. It leads to many mental illnesses and is a symptom of depression. It is destructive in nature and mentally draining.
If you have analysed this behaviour, you should take immediate actions to curb it.
Here are 9 ways to stop overthinking:
- Do a chore – as simple as it may sound, it is the best way to start. As I mentioned above, when you are occupied in an activity, it is difficult to overthink. So, pick up a duster, arrange your wardrobe, wash dishes, or rearrange furniture. It’ll get you out of that phase and help you relax.
- Meditate – meditation is the key to many human issues. It rewires the brain positively, helps you control wild thoughts, gives you better perspective of yourself and the world around and ultimately brings inner peace.
Get into this habit now, start with easy 15-20 minutes sessions per day and extend it, as you gain more control and stillness.
Read more on how to start meditation here.
- Get out – there is a strong connection between time spent in nature leading to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. In a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they ran in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature run had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.
- Write – it is a good way to vent and analyse the situation. When you put pen to paper many a times things gain perspective. The monkey in the brain is put to task. Though overthinking is inefficacious, sometimes it leads to breakthrough ideas, plans or strategies. In a way you gain something from disorder, something similar to the book Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Writing is becoming an endangered species, hence fire up your creativity, even your abstract thoughts may become an inspiration for someone somewhere, while it also takes care of your hyper active brain.
- Read – reading is a therapy in itself. It takes you to a world, which is unique in its own accord. Overthinking requires brain space and nothing can counter it like reading. Reading makes you picturise characters, places, roles, and situations, like adding colours in a colouring book.
Though it may require some patience, but if you are able to get immersed in a book for 15 minutes, it’ll take care of the rest. It’ll never fail to boost your senses and mood.
- Spend time with your furry buddy – having a pet gives you purpose, keeps you active, provides companionship and unadulterated love. They bring joy in the most unexpected ways.
It has been proven by science that pets are therapeutic. They have been used effectively in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They increase the quality of life and well-being of humans.
If you don’t own one, try volunteering in an animal shelter. You’ll find many bundle of joys waiting to be loved and cuddled.
- Socialise – humans are created to be social beings. We gain strength from community and social bondage. Hence there can be nothing more therapeutic than spending some quality time with people who cherish and care for you.
Overthinking is achieved in one’s own company, through negative self-talk. Which can be frustrating and depressing. If something is bothering you, it’s always productive to take an external perspective. You may find answers to your worries and warmth in companionship.
- Stop expecting perfection – over-thinkers are sometimes perfectionists, who in search of perfection create high expectations. These high expectations lead to disappointment, which become the subject of analysis and dissection.
World is a combination of mistakes and errors. There are no systems, processes or people without flaws. Hence learn to accept flaws and disruptive systems, and accommodate them in your scheme of things. Give your best but don’t expect the same in return.
- Exercise – this is one of the easiest things you can do to uplift your mood and thoughts. Exercising doesn’t mean lifting weights or running marathons, it can be any form of physical movement you enjoy. From a walk in the park, game of basketball or a swim in the lake. Just get out and be active.
Exercising can literally cure diseases and reverse depression. It can control stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. It also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps moderate the brain’s response to depression, the sunshine vitamin. In addition brain releases a chemical called endorphins, which is behind “runner’s high,” a short-lasting, deeply euphoric state.
Read more on how to start exercising here.
Overthinking takes a serious toll on your well-being, increasing the risk of mental health problems. It creates an endless loop of possibilities without any actual implementation. You might think it will bring you solution, but actually it leads you nowhere. It is an internal battle of thoughts, which has no winner, but only a loser. Be positive and more action driven, it’ll bring you inner peace and calm.