Overthinking can be a lot to deal with sometimes. It starts affecting your life in more ways than you’d think and working on it takes time and practice. Being an over-thinker myself, I knew I needed help when I saw it making things worse for me than it actually is. And so, I spoke to Psychologist Anagha Bhave to know more about what overthinking is exactly and how one can work on it. To which she said,
Overthinking can include excessively scrutinising your mistakes, constantly playing out a past situation in your mind and excessively worrying about things you have no control over.
Further, she mentioned 10 ways/practices an over-thinker can try. Scroll down to read all about it.
When you catch yourself overthinking, try, and practice grounding. For it, all you need to do is name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This will help you bring yourself back to the present instead of overthinking about different scenarios.
Develop more awareness about the nature of overthinking. If you’re an over-thinker, ask yourself questions like—What’s the theme? Are there particular times when it happens more? If they’re hypothetical negative events in the future, then gently remind yourself that they haven’t even occurred yet and challenge their authenticity.
You might have heard this a million times but it actually works! Journalling or a ‘brain dump’ is a great way to structure the overwhelming mass of thoughts that constitute overthinking by writing them down. You get more clarity on your thoughts and writing them down makes it easier to sort them out and decide how to work on them.
This might sound weird but you have to allow your thoughts to come. If you try to suppress or avoid them, they’re more likely to keep popping up. Some research suggests that taking out a specific time slot every day to just let your mind think can be of great help. But just make sure you don’t choose this time slot too close to bedtime.
If you’re a ‘night-time over-thinker’, remember to put a pin in it till the next day. As suggested earlier, thinking about problems just before sleeping can give them the illusion of being bigger than they are. Going to bed with a clear head is vital.
The 5-year rule is again one of the most suggested strategies and it does help with overthinking as well. Ask yourself if whatever is worrying you will even matter in 5 years. If the answer is no, you can make yourself understand that it isn’t worth worrying about for too long.
Practice mindfulness meditation daily. It grounds you in the present moment, giving some relief from constantly thinking about the future or the past.
Just like you take care of your physical health, taking care of your mental health is important. And if you’re a chronic thinker, you should seek therapy. The nature of your thoughts can be connected to your core self, past events, and underlying issues. And therapy will help you navigate it and detangle it in a healthy manner.
Using healthy distractions from time to time is a good practice for over-thinkers, but make sure to not do it regularly. Taking a break by focusing your attention on another stimulus can be refreshing, especially if the thoughts are frivolous.
A lot of times, overthinking can also affect your work and productivity. You start missing out on your tasks and if that’s the case then setting reminders to start working or focusing can help.
Hope this was helpful! What are some other ways you have tried and liked as an over-thinker? Let us know about them in the comments below!