There’s a real danger in overthinking: it makes you focus on a small problem and observe it from all angles, dissecting and analyzing, until it becomes hundred times bigger and scarier than it really is. This can consume a big portion of your life, and that’s never a good thing.
Now, it’s a completely different thing to think things through – it’s constructive because you’re detached from it, you’re not emotionally involved. But if you fear that you might be ruining your life by overthinking, here are a few things you can do to stop with it.
It’s a habit, and it can be broken if you want to.
1. Put things into perspective
The main trap of overthinking is that the thing you’re thinking about is taking up a major part of your focus, eventually making you believe that it’s really a lot bigger than it is. Your friend didn’t call you today like she promised – this kind of things can become huge when put under a microscope.
So put things into a wider perspective. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about something too much and getting upset about it, just think – will it matter a year from now? In 5 years?
This can really snap you out of it. Practice, and soon you’ll have more time and energy to do the things you really like.
2. Don’t think – act
Many people get caught up in thinking about their big dreams, preparing to make them come true, imagining what it will be like… and their plans and dream wait for them to make them perfect, which almost never happens.
If you don’t want your dream to stay a dream, take action as soon as you can. It will stop you from overthinking and procrastinating, and it will really make you feel good.
Setting short deadlines is a good way to become more action oriented. Turn your plan into the small steps and set deadlines (as shorter as possible) for each. You will not have the feeling that there’s a mountain of work in front of you, and you won’t feel overwhelmed – you will actually be more motivated to work, and you will finally got something done!
3. Work out
Working out helps you put your mind off thinking. It makes you release all tension and worries and whatever caused you to overthink can simply dissolve if you’re regularly working out, or doing any kind of physical activity.
4. Practice being in the present
These days life gets so busy and so filled with things to do and plan that many of us forget to stop and feel the moment which is happening right now. When you’re caught in overthinking, many moments will escape you, moments that you’ll never get back again dwelling on the moments in the past or waiting for the future ones.
This will probably take some practice, but you can start small: slow down for starters. Start walking and moving more slowly so that you can feel your body; slow down with the talk and feel the words you’re using, notice the thoughts going through your head and the way you’re shaping them into words.
You will notice that you’re more aware of yourself and of everything going on around you, and you will discover the pleasure it can bring into your everyday life.
Also, whenever you can practice being aware of what you’re doing. Don’t let your thoughts wander off when you’re walking or washing dishes – practice becoming aware of the moment they start drifting, and bringing them back to the present.
5. Watch who you’re spending your time with
Finally, people around you play a big part in formation of your habits. If they like to overthink and overanalyze things in their lives, they can easily transfer it to you even when you’re trying to “quit”. And this goes for people in your real life – your friends, coworkers, family members, but also for people you socialize with online – Facebook groups or forums for example. They can also have a huge impact on the way you think and on your need to endlessly analyze everything (even if it’s for the sake of arguing – still a bad habit).
You have more important and fun things to do with your life, so go out and do them! Life won’t wait forever.