The truth is we have all spent a certain amount of time in our lives dedicated to overthinking. It feels like we’re not able to relax or shut down after a long day. And it’s almost impossible to decipher if it’s driven by anxiety or depression and from there on out it’s a steady decline in one’s mental health. On some level, we truly believe that ruminating on every worrisome thought we have is somehow helpful but it’s actually counterproductive in nature. Think about it, the more you dwell on the problem the worse you feel. And the worse you feel the harder it is to approach your problem objectively because you’ve covered in a shroud of doubt and emotion.
We often confuse overthinking with the problem-solving skill but being a problem solver means thinking of the problematic situation only when necessary. Overthinking on the other hand is dwelling on the things one cannot control from the past or intrusive thoughts about the future.
Here is a step by step guide that will help you deal with overthinking everything in life:
1) Schedule time for overthinking
Schedule a certain amount of time daily just for overthinking and let your thoughts go crazy. But that’s all the time you get, once you’re out of time, try to put these thoughts behind you or on pause and focus on being present.
2) Divide your thoughts by the things you can control and the things you can't
What you can do eventually in your scheduled time is to make notes of your problems and then make notes on what you can do to help yourself. You can even make columns on the things you can control and the things you cannot. Identify your fears and try to do something that you fear and ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? And if you can live through that then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
3) Pay attention to your inner chatter and reframe negative terms & sentences
We are the stories we tell ourselves because what we say to ourselves about ourselves is what we come to believe and be as well. So you need to decide if the story you tell about yourself empowers you or holds you back? Identify these restrictive thoughts you have of yourself and make a conscious attempt to stop your negative inner chatter.
4) Focus on finding solutions
Let go of the past because no matter how long or how hard you think about it, you can’t change it. But you can change your perspective about it and what you learn from it. Let go of the whys, ifs and buts. And if you’re not happy with where you are in life set goals that will allow you to get on track with where you want to be in the future. Practice the art of being decisive and see how far it takes you.
5) Manage your stress
Find an effective way to cope and manage the stress and anxiety in one’s life. Usually, taking a break can really help bring one back on track. Spend time in nature because it will instantly refresh your mind and nourish your soul. If you can’t spring for a trip/break just find the time to take a 5-minute walk in a really green area because it has an immediate calming effect on the mind. Or exercise, dance, indulge in any activity that distracts your mind and gets you physically tired. You can even unplug from all forms of technology for a few hours. Do what allows you to calm down and be one with yourself without all the intrusive and negative thoughts.
Overthinking has nothing to do with how much time you spend deep in thought even if you believe that is the key to developing the best solution. Truth is, if you aren’t learning from the past patterns of your behaviour or coming up with a creative solution for dealing with the issue then you aren’t being productive and it will not enhance your life in any way. I have listed a few steps or mental exercises above that can help you channel all this nervous energy into something that will help you grow as a person.
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