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Are you an overthinker?
Does everything come to a head, causing you to feel overwhelmed and out of control?
The truth is, all of us overthink at some point in our lives. Some, a little more than others - it’s human nature to read into situations and psychoanalyse our behaviours.
Forbes produced an interesting piece on overthinking, stating that the cause of overthinking can be “associated with conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use disorders. Rumination can be common in people who have chronic pain and chronic illness as well, taking the form of negative thoughts about that pain and healing from it.”
Now, if we think about all the people in the world who suffer from the above (or more than one) of these causes, we can start to see that we are one big population of overthinkers.
But, a lot of us don’t know how to “stop” overthinking or simply slow our minds down.
Here are our top 5 tips to stop overthinking everything
#1 If it won’t matter in 5 years' time, don’t spend any longer than 5 minutes thinking about it
As a prerequisite to this, use this phrase with a pinch of salt. Of course, the majority of things in life probably won’t worry in 5 years time, but you may need slightly longer than 5 minutes to figure it all out.
What we mean by this, is to allow yourself to feel your feelings - overthink, ruminate, and analyse. But, give yourself a time limit. Spending hours of the day overthinking one situation isn’t productive nor is it helpful for your own mental health.
Setting boundaries with how you process your thoughts is one of the best first steps to reducing the amount you overthink.
#2 Use logic and perspective
Logic eats irrational thoughts for breakfast. Sometimes, being factual and practical about things (although often boring) forces you to get out of your own head and look at things through a lens of perspective! Gaining perspective is also a great way to calm nervous thoughts.
#3 Hash it out with someone who can truly help
Use tips two and three in tandem. If you have a logical friend (we’ve all got one somewhere) then hash it out with them. A problem shared really is a problem halved, and whether it’s at work or in your personal life, talking things through with someone who can help is a game-changer.
#4 Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t
Easier said than done, but a lot of us overthink because we want to have control over a situation. Let’s take the example of a presentation - you present to a group of people, whether it’s at work or for an interview, and afterwards, you feel guilty because you didn’t perform at the best of your ability, or maybe you felt like you made a mistake.
As an overthinker, it can be so easy to get into a hole and tear your presentation apart, picking holes in how you spoke and the reactions of the people in the presentation. When, in reality - there’s nothing you can do beyond that point. Spending time worrying about something you can’t influence or change is pointless - so remember that for next time!
#5 Get outside of your own head (metaphorically, and physically)
Sitting still, stewing in your thoughts is only going to make you catastrophize and things will only feel worse. Getting outside, going on a walk, and doing something other than thinking will help.
A bit of light exercise will release the necessary endorphins to calm your anxiety, and simply leaving the environment in which you are ruminating can be incredibly helpful in itself.
Finally - know that “beating” the overthinking process isn’t linear, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to overthink. Feeling so deeply is a testament to who you are as a person - so instead of trying to “shut it down” - focus on ways you can manage it so you can have a better relationship with your mental health.