It’s a Sunday and Vijitha finally has some free time to herself. She knows that she’s replied to all the pending emails and her assignments have reached her manager’s inbox. She finally decides to read her book but immediately gets distracted. She feels like she has forgotten to include a few attachments to her emails. She’s also worried that she may have overestimated her chances for a promotion. Vijitha’s Sunday is officially ruined.
Do Vijitha’s worries sound familiar to you? Haven’t we all thought about things that push us into a negative headspace? We tend to worry, overthink and can’t seem to relax. As humans, our thoughts are bound to get out of control. Our thinking and reasoning abilities are both a boon and bane. While it helps to make important decisions, excessive thinking or ‘overthinking’ can impact our mental health. Want to learn how to stop overthinking? Let’s identify some common overthinking symptoms first.
Types Of Overthinking
Some of us can’t seem to mute our inner voice. Many of us let our thoughts cloud our judgment. We let our thoughts take over in two major ways:
Ruminating About the Past:
It’s when you think excessively about your past. You can understand some overthinking symptoms of this form through these examples:
You shouldn’t have shared your idea because it wasn’t accepted
You shouldn’t have spoken so nervously at the team meeting
Worrying About the Future:
It’s when you try to predict or think too much about your future. You can understand some overthinking symptoms of this form through these examples:
You’ll definitely be criticized if you share your opinions at the meeting
You’ll always keep making mistakes and will never get promoted
How To Overcome Overthinking?
To learn how to control overthinking, let’s look at how to overcome overthinking. Here are a few tips to train your mind to look at things differently:
Widen Your Perspective
We often overthink even the smallest actions in our lives. They may not be very important but your mind will trick you into thinking otherwise. When you worry about the smallest things, take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself if that thing or situation will matter in a couple of years? This can help you focus your energy on things that are most important at that time.
Set Time-Limits For Decisions
If you take a lot of time to make a decision, it’s highly likely that your thoughts will add complications to the process. If you set yourself a deadline when you’re trying to make a decision, you set a limit to the time you spend thinking. For example, if you have to choose between cooking your dinner or using the time to reply to work emails, you could give yourself 15-20 minutes to make that decision. Use the time to pick and prioritize one option.
Plan Your Days
Learn how to control overthinking by planning your day. You can choose a peppy tune for your alarm and read something uplifting during breakfast. You could make time for some light exercises that can help you relax. It’s a good idea to schedule some time for checking your emails and/or social media. Take meaningful breaks and talk to people in your spare time.
Don’t Try To Control Everything
We often try to control things to avoid mistakes, risks and failures. It’s important to remember that not everything is in our control even if we think it is. For example, if you’re working from home and your internet isn’t functioning properly, it’s not your fault. You can always choose to communicate your inconvenience with your manager or coworkers. Try not to punish yourself for something that’s not your fault.
Stay In The Present
When we overthink, we often tend to sway between past events and future possibilities. The more you dwell on your past, the more you worry about your future. The more you worry about your future, the more difficult your current day becomes. Remember to slow down and try to let bygones be bygones. Say ‘stop’ out loud if you feel that you can’t stop yourself from overthinking.
To learn and develop how to stop overthinking isn’t an easy pursuit. Harappa Education’s Leading Self course can guide you in your journey. Learn how to take ownership of your actions and embrace opportunities for personal growth. The Iceberg Model will teach you how to identify limiting beliefs and the most effective ways to overcome them.
Thinking about something endlessly can get exhausting. If overthinking is sending you down unhealthy spirals and you can’t control them, talk to someone. Don’t let ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ dominate your thoughts. Sometimes it’s best to stop thinking and start acting!