Life comes with an infinite number of “what-ifs”; and, with so many things that are out of our control, people often spend far too much time imagining the worst case scenario. While this may not seem like a big deal in the short-term, overthinking is a real problem that can increase stress and ruin mood. When this is done repeatedly, it becomes normalized functioning for the brain, whenever there is an unknown variable in our lives.
Here are a few tips to get out of the habit of overthinking:
1) Acknowledge what’s happening.
The first way to avoid overthinking is to stop the
thoughts before they progress. While this is easier said than done, it’s an incredibly important skill that can do wonders for mental health. Be reflective: “Ah! I’m overthinking again!”; and set a course for what to do from there. Taking pause in the initial moment will help prevent the thoughts from
snowballing, before it’s too late.
2) Put things into perspective.
When you find yourself worrying about a given situation, try to think of it from an outside perspective:
Is this really that big of a deal? Will this matter in a day, week, or month?
Some problems are obviously worse than others, but work on letting go of the small stuff, if it will not have much of an impact on your daily life.
3) Do something.
It’s easy to overthink about “trivial” things when you’re not doing anything. Distract yourself from the thoughts by reading a book, exercising, talking with friends, or doing any other activity that you enjoy. If it really is that big of a deal, you can address it later.
4) Consider your options.
When you find yourself overthinking a situation, ask yourself the following question: Is there anything I can do to change the outcome for the
better? If the answer is yes, stop thinking and go for it! If the answer is no, acknowledge that it is out of your control, and try to let go of the worry. If there’s nothing that can be done about it, why waste your energy worrying?
5) Think of what can go right, instead of what can go wrong.
Try your best to stay positive about the situation. Yes, there could be a negative outcome. But it is also likely there could be a positive outcome. Switch your thinking to the positive to save yourself the worry. If it doesn’t work out as you want it to, you can worry about it when
Final thoughts: It may seem impossible to stop yourself from overthinking, but you are not alone in this. You are fully able to improve your thought processes, and your brain will thank you later!
If you believe your loved one could benefit from professional support, please contact Compass Social Skills and Counseling, LLC at 774-847-9340 or Info@SocialCompassCounseling.com.