How to Stop Overthinking: Easy Tips from Experts

Written by Priyanka Agarwal, Writer at Hola Health
Medically Reviewed by Amira Shah, MA in Couselling Psychology, Registered Psychotherapist, B.Ed with Guidance & Councelling B.Arts

Overthinking is when you overanalyse or think too much about something, even when it’s not necessary. It’s like your brain keeps going around in circles obsessing about what happened in the past or what could happen in future. A problem keeps appearing in your mind— for instance a health concern, a job dilemma or an argument with your friend – and you just can’t let it go. Sometimes, overthinking makes simple problems seem quite big and it can prevent you from taking action or making decisions. Research by Forbes suggests that 73% of 25- to 35-year-olds chronically overthink, along with 52% of people ages 45 to 55.  But, how to stop overthinking? Well, overthinking is a habit and like any habit, it can be broken with dedication and perseverance.

7 Signs of Overthinking

You might not even know when you evolve from considering to overanalysing. Here are a few signs of overthinking to help you understand better.

1. Overthinkers often worry or ruminate about past events or future possibilities. They get stuck in the cycles of worry, analysing each detail, imagining extreme scenarios, and mulling over mistakes or regrets.

2. Overthinkers may struggle to make decisions as they keep considering all possible outcomes. They are always overwhelmed with doubts about the decisions they make and their consequences.

3. Overthinkers may strive to work towards perfection, leading to continuous analysing, revising, and refining, which is time-consuming and burdensome.

4. Overthinking may affect concentration and attentiveness. Overthinkers may find it difficult to concentrate on tasks or discussions due to their mind being distracted by various thoughts and concerns.

5. Overthinkers often find themselves reviewing interactions or situations in their minds, assessing every word or action and its potential repercussions. It could be social anxiety that causes overthinking.

6. Constant overthinking may be mentally exhausting, leaving individuals feeling drained and depleted of energy.

7. Overthinking can manifest physically, increasing symptoms of headache, insomnia, or tense muscles due to stress and tension correlated with too much mental activity.

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What Triggers Overthinking?

Overthinking can be triggered by many factors. Let’s check them out.

1. Disturbing or negative past experiences may lead to overthinking as the mind tries to stay away from similar situations in the future.

2. Demanding situations that require quick decision-making may trigger overthinking as individuals try to assess all possible options and their consequences.

3. Many individuals tend to overthink because they get into the habit quite early.

4. Many people require a sense of certainty before deciding on anything as their mind tries to predict and prepare for various outcomes.

5. Aiming for perfection may also lead to dwelling too much on situations and aftereffects, fearing mistakes or failure.

6. When there are too many distractions, the mind may incline towards overthinking as a way to occupy itself. 

7. High levels of stress may often lead to overthinking as the mind tries to manage and cope with the sources of stress.

8. Low self-esteem may also lead to overthinking at times as individuals doubt themselves and their abilities.

How to Stop Overthinking?

In today’s fast-paced world, where stress at work and stress in general is prevalent, overthinking may exacerbate these challenges further. It can be a significant contributor to burnout and stress, ultimately impacting our mental health negatively.

Here are several tips that may help you to break free from the vicious cycle of overthinking:

1. Talk to a Psychotherapist/ Counsellor

2. Distract yourself

Sometimes distracting and engaging in other activities can prevent overthinking. Distractions can help you forget about the matters that trouble you. It can seem challenging at first, but activities like baking, knitting, reading and painting can help you manage stress.

3. Meditate

 Meditation promotes mental calmness and stress relief. By practising meditation, you can train your brain to let go of unnecessary thoughts, thereby reducing overthinking.

4. Take deep breaths

Deep breathing induces relaxation, calming the nervous system and promoting mental clarity. It encourages presence and focus on the present moment, reducing stress and overthinking.

5. Adopt a wider perspective

Taking a step back and considering the bigger picture can help alleviate overthinking. Remember that small setbacks are often not as significant as they seem, and maintaining a positive outlook can be beneficial.

6. Celebrate your achievements

 Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments to counteract negative thinking patterns. Noting five positive things that occurred during the week can help shift your focus away from overthinking.

7. Help others

Engaging in acts of kindness can distract from negative thoughts and foster feelings of fulfillment. Supporting friends or family during difficult times can provide a sense of purpose and reduce overthinking.

8. Face your fears

Facing fears can reduce overthinking by providing a sense of self-determination and control. When you control your fears, you stand against negative thoughts, which may lead to a decrease in overthinking. Moreover, facing fears often demands taking action which shifts your centre of attention from worrying towards solutions and growth.

9. Start journaling

Journaling serves as an excellent tool to strive against overthinking by providing a structured outlet for organising thoughts. By practising journaling, individuals can explain their concerns, recognise triggers, and explore solutions. Additionally, journaling offers a safe space for emotional expression allowing individuals to reduce the severity of their worries. Regularly documenting emotions and thoughts allows tracking progress and recognizing improvements over time. It provides a safe outlet for emotional expression and can help reduce the severity of worries.

10. Focus on the present

Focusing on the present may ease overthinking by grounding individuals in the here and now. By directing attention to instantaneous sensations, surroundings, and experiences, individuals can free themselves from the cycle of recurring thoughts. This awareness enables individuals to observe thoughts without getting entangled in them, thus allowing them to respond to challenges more successfully.

11. Take action

Divide the work into smaller and manageable steps. Instead of focusing on your troubles, take proactive measures to address them.

12. Embrace yourself

Embrace self-compassion by being kind and tolerant with yourself. It’s normal for many individuals to struggle with overthinking, so try not to be too harsh on yourself.

13. Reduce stressors

 Identify the stressors that make you overthink and strive to reduce your exposure to them.

What are the consequences of overthinking?

Excess overthinking may lead to some serious negative consequences. These consequences can impact your physical and mental health. Let us have a look at some of the consequences of overthinking:

  • Physical health decline: Overthinking can result in physical manifestations such as fatigue, insomnia, nausea, and fluctuations in weight.
  • Mental health effects: Overthinking deeply affects mental health, often resulting in high levels of stress due to the mind being consumed by repetitive thoughts and concerns.
  • Negative self-perception: Constantly viewing oneself in a negative light can undermine self-worth and confidence, gradually eroding self-esteem.
  • Analysis paralysis: Overthinking can lead to indecisiveness, characterized by persistently seeking second opinions and feeling overwhelmed by choices, hindering decision-making in personal and professional life.
  • Decreased productivity: Constantly dwelling on difficulties can lead to losing concentration on work, reducing overall productivity.
  • Relationship strain: Overanalyzing conversations can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts, potentially straining relationships.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.