Raise your hand if you’ve ever fallen victim to overthinking. Me too, friend, I’m with you.
I am a chronic overthinker. By nature, I thrive in a world characterized by preparation, well-thought-out plans, and backup plans. I struggle to dive headfirst into anything in my life without overthinking the best and worst-case situation in different scenarios. Do you know the feeling?
As dreamers, doers, and go-getters, thinking through our grand plans isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But failing to proceed with your plans as a result of overthinking will only hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Analysis paralysis comes at a cost. It’s important to be able to recognize and address overthinking when possible.
Here are the eight best tips and tricks that have helped me address moments of overthinking in my life.
Acknowledge your thoughts.
If you want to develop strategies to stop overthinking, you have to be willing and able to acknowledge your thoughts. Familiarize yourself with your thoughts so much so that you can quickly identify when you’re falling into a cycle of overthinking. When you do catch yourself overthinking a decision, start by asking yourself the following:
- Am I feeling stressed or anxious?
- Are these thoughts preventing me from being able to focus?
- What am I really afraid of?
- When did these thoughts start?
Growing your self-awareness and being able to recognize overthinking in its tracks is key.
Reframe your mindset.
I don’t know about you, but I never catch myself overthinking about a scenario positively. More often than not, we’re worried about all of the things that might go wrong. Rarely, if ever, do we catch ourselves thinking about all of the possibilities that might work out and go right.
When you catch yourself overthinking, reframe your mindset. Set the worst-case scenarios aside and consider what your specific situation would be like if it worked out exactly as you want it to. Manifest those positive vibes!
Erase the idea of perfectionism.
I’ve learned over time that one of the main reasons I struggle with overthinking is because I hold myself to high standards. I want the execution of my idea to be perfect, so I find myself stuck overanalyzing until I feel like I can execute my idea perfectly. Can you guess what happens next?
I never give myself the grace to START, because it’s impossible to reach a perfect vision. Listen up and write this one down –perfectionism does not exist, not even by our standards. Erase the idea of perfectionism and stop waiting until you feel ready to jump all in. Just jump!
Make fear your friend.
Fear is closely tied to overthinking, and one of the best ways to combat overthinking is to make fear your friend.
If you’re afraid to dive in, afraid you’re making the wrong choice, afraid you will be judged, it’s safe to say that fear is ultimately what’s holding you back. If you make fear your friend, your thoughts will become less frightening.
Meditation will help you focus on the present moment, rather than caught up in the mistakes of the past, or fears of the future. Schedule time to meditate as part of your daily routine.
The key to a successful meditation practice is to give yourself space and time to truly quiet your mind and silence your thoughts. You can also use meditation techniques when you’re feeling overwhelmed to calm your mind and body in the immediate moment.
Start a gratitude practice.
Similar to reframing your mindset, grounding yourself in gratitude has proven to better the lives of those who are consistent in their practice. Start a gratitude journal and commit to reflecting on what you’re thankful for every day as part of your daily routine. Gratitude is good for you.
Set a worry time limit.
Sometimes the thoughts and concerns that come up during a period of overthinking are valid and shouldn’t be brushed off. I’ve had very reasonable concerns come up during overthinking that require my attention. If this happens to you, I recommend setting a worry time limit in which you give yourself uninterrupted time to hear your thoughts and worries out.
Once your time limit is up, do your best to shed those worries and move on. Just be sure to be reasonable with the time limits you set. For example, giving yourself three hours to worry and overthink may do much more harm than good.
Giving yourself ten minutes might not be anywhere near enough. Find a time limit that works for you and allows you to feel better at the end of the time limit.
Enjoy some time outside to reset.
You’ve likely heard this one time and time again, but it works! Head outside and take time to reset. Rather than just sitting outside, I always recommend choosing an outdoor activity that will require your focus and attention.
Moderate hikes may require you to focus on where you’re stepping, which can help quiet and distract your mind. I enjoy fishing because it requires concentration and quiet, both of which allow me to enjoy the present moment.
Always remember that you are in control of your thoughts! You can put an end to overthinking any time you want to.