Overthinking… the art of creating problems that weren’t even there to begin with.
You can’t get over the past. Your perceived mistakes and failures consume your every waking moment, and you worry about what the future holds. You’re stuck in an overthinking rut, and you don’t know how to get out of it.
Say hello to analysis paralysis.
Overthinking is not just irritating; it can be harmful to your health.
Studies show that thinking too much about everything can have a negative effect on your productivity, lower your performance, kill your creativity, rob you of your willpower, and steal your happiness.
In the long run, this can lead to serious emotional distress, and increase your risk for mental health problems.
Think less, do more
Putting an end to overthinking and negative thought patterns is easier said than done. But with practice, you can overcome this bad habit. Here's how:
- Distract yourself. Use happy and healthy alternatives like dancing, drawing and painting to distance yourself from bad thoughts and overanalysing. It may also help to do something spontaneous. Try a new food, watch a new TV series or read a book. This can help clear your head and change your way of thinking, which can, in turn prevent overthinking.
- Be mindful. Make yourself more aware of the here and now by practising mindfulness; a form of meditation where you focus on the present moment without judgment. As obsessive, worrying thoughts come in, acknowledge them. Take note of where your mind drifted and how it made you feel. Then, release them. This will quiet your mind and help you stay grounded in the present moment. You can think a thousand stressful thoughts a day, but you can also choose to let those thoughts come and go. Think, don't hoard.
- Move it. Burn some calories. Exercise is a great way to free your mind of negative thoughts and feelings. Even if it's just for five minutes, find something you enjoy and do it every day. Maybe it's dancing, running or yoga. Whatever it is, let the bad energy out. As it becomes a habit, you'll notice yourself overthinking less and you may become a better decision-maker.
- Exhale! Breathing can relax your body and mind, and calm those obsessive thoughts. It can help put things into perspective, and connect you to the present moment. When overthinking hits, take a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply until the excessive thinking goes away.
- Poof... begone. Think about it this way: are you in control of the situation associated with the thought? Can you change it in any way? If you can, great. If not, accept that you can't control the outcome. Let go and let it be. Trust that everything happens at the right time and place, and that everything will work out as it was meant to be.