Human beings are gifted with the innate ability to think—to analyze, explore, and attempt to understand our inner worlds. While this ability makes us who we are, and leads to great personal as well as societal advancements, it is possible to overdo it.
When we think too much, one negative effect is that it can overshadow our enjoyment of the present. We get so caught up in the past, future, or alternate present that we forget to live in the here and now. Overthinking can also be so overwhelming that it can stifle our ability to act, or (ironically) to think clearly at all.
If you often lay awake at night dissecting something that you said or did to someone, that someone said or did to you, or any number of “what if” scenarios, chances are you have fallen into a pattern of overthinking. Luckily, as with any habit, it is breakable.
The following are a few ways to stop overthinking and start living:
Immerse yourself in a hobby, craft, or game
When your mind won’t stop churning, it helps greatly to do something to keep it focused and engaged. If you have a favorite hobby, sport, craft, or activity that you like to do, this is the perfect time to do it. Immerse yourself in an activity for an hour, and you may find that your mind has settled.
The best activities for quieting a churning mind are those that engage you both physically and mentally—so watching TV won’t cut it, since it doesn’t really do either.
One of the best ways to bust stress and a raging thought cycle is to do some intense exercise. Bonus points if you can do it outside in the fresh air and sunshine—nature and natural vitamin D can do wonders.
Plus, the exertion and endorphin rush you get from exercise clears your mind, boosts your mood, and can often provide a mental “reset.”
Keep a journal
When you’re in a thought cycle and can’t think your way out (pardon the paradox), it can really help to write out your thoughts on paper. Just let yourself write—don’t worry about making sense. When you’re done, take a five-minute break to walk or just breathe, then read what you’ve written.
You may find the solution clearly in front of you… or you may find the thing you’re overthinking is not worthy of so much worry and thought.
Give yourself time limits
If your overthinking leads you to indecision, it may help to give yourself a certain time in which to make decisions. This may vary depending on the scale of the decision at hand. Huge, life-changing decisions will obviously require more time, while choosing a shirt to wear to work will require less. Decide on a reasonable timeframe that works for you, and stick to it.
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for getting back into the present moment. Even five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night can help to stop your thoughts from running wild, and focus your mind on what’s in front of you. For an overthinker, this is especially key.
On top of these suggestions, remember to simply breathe slowly and deeply. This is one thing we often forget, and it can make a world of difference.
-The Alternative Daily