Some people have a tendency to overthink situations every once in a while. Others are constantly flooded with thoughts. Overthinkers who are chronically irritable replay conversations from yesterday and second-guess every decision they make every day.
Overthinking about a topic can lead to more than just words. Their minds are like a movie, where they replay distressing scenes or imagine their car driving off the road.
Too much thinking can make it difficult to get anything done. It can also cause havoc in your mood.
Destructive Thought patterns
Overthinking can lead to two destructive thought patterns: ruminating or incessant worrying.
Ruminating is a way to dwell on the past. These thoughts may include:
- These were not the right words to say at yesterday’s meeting. I must be an idiot to everyone.
- I should have stayed at the last job. I would be happier than where I am right now.
- I was not taught confidence by my parents. My insecurity has always been a hindrance to my success.
Persistent worrying involves negative–often catastrophic–predictions about the future. These thoughts may include:
- Tomorrow, I will be embarrassed by myself when I present that presentation. I know that I will forget everything I was supposed to say.
- I will be promoted ahead of everyone else.
- We won’t have enough money to retire, and I know this. We’ll become too sick to work, and then we’ll run out.
It can be difficult to change your negative thought patterns, just like any other habit. With consistent practice, however, it is possible to train your brain differently. Here are six methods to stop thinking too much about everything.
- Notice when you’re stuck in your head.
Overthinking can lead to a vicious cycle that is so common you don’t even realize you are doing it. You can start to pay attention to how you think in order for you become more aware.
Recognize that you are not productive if you keep replaying the same events over and over or worrying about things that you cannot control. Positive thinking is only useful when it leads you to positive action.
- Keep your focus on problem-solving
It’s not helpful to dwell on your problems. But, it is useful to look for solutions. You can either try to prevent it from happening or you can challenge yourself to find five possible solutions.
You can think of strategies to deal with situations that you don’t have control over, such as natural disasters. You can focus on what you can control, such as your attitude and efforts.
- You can challenge your thoughts.
Negative thoughts can easily get out of control. Be aware that negative thoughts can easily get out of control.
Be aware that emotions can interfere with your ability to look at situations objectively. Look at the evidence. How much evidence can you provide to support your belief? What evidence can you provide to prove that your belief is false?
- Make time for reflection.
It’s not productive to dwell on your problems for too long. However, a brief reflection can help you get out of your rut. You can improve your performance by focusing on how you could have done things differently or acknowledging potential pitfalls in your plan.
Include 20 minutes of “thinking” time in your daily routine. You can worry, ruminate or mull over anything during that 20-minute period.
Move on when your time is up. If you find yourself pondering over things beyond your time frame, you can remind yourself that you will need to wait until your “thinking” time to address them.
- Learn Mindfulness Skills
When you live in the moment, it’s impossible not to think about yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Mindfulness can help you be more present in the now.
Mindfulness is like any other skill. However, with practice it can become less stressful. You can learn mindfulness skills through books, videos, apps, courses and books.
- Change the channel
It is a mistake to tell yourself that you should stop thinking about it. You will make it more likely that a thought will keep coming up in your mind if you don’t try to stop it from happening.
You can change the activity that you do to alter your brain’s channel. Engage in conversation about a different topic, exercise, or take on a task that distracts. You can stop the negative thoughts by doing something else.
Train your brain
You can improve your mental health by paying more attention to how you think. You can build your mental muscle by developing healthier habits.