If you’re looking for practical tips to help you figure out how to stop overthinking and worrying about everything, this post is a great place to start. Chronic over-thinkers are prone to develop feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and often have trouble sleeping, which can perpetuate the problem even further. Whether you’re struggling with a particularly difficult decision, or you’re just programmed to obsess and worry over things you have little to no control over, these strategies will get you out of ‘analysis paralysis’, teach you to put things into perspective, help you stop worrying about all of the things that could go wrong, and empower you to start living your life to the fullest each and every day!
How to Stop Overthinking and Worrying
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEAR
If you want to know how to stop overthinking and worrying, a great first step is to acknowledge your fear and then dig deep to figure out the reason behind it. Leading an important project, accepting a promotion at work, committing to a new exercise program, and becoming a new parent are all examples of life changing events that can cause us to question ourselves and our abilities. The trick is to recognize the reasons behind these fears and work through them.
Quite often, our fears are completely unfounded, but if you legitimately feel you are lacking in a certain skill, take control and put yourself in a position of power. Read books, enroll in a course, talk to an expert, watch YouTube tutorials, and do whatever else you need to do to feel empowered and ready to take on the challenge ahead of you.
2. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
While there’s nothing wrong with striving to be your best self in every single thing you do, the need to be PERFECT can lead to excessive worry and anxiety. Perfectionists have a habit of setting unrealistic standards for themselves, and often engage in procrastination and/or avoidance due to fear of failure. Someone who strives for perfection will never feel as though they measure up, which can cause a whole host of challenges, including depression, anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem. If this sounds like you and you’re trying to figure out how to stop overthinking and worrying about everything, remember that perfectionism is a form of self-hatred, and aim for progress instead.
3. CHANGE THE CONVERSATION
If you’re a chronic over-thinker and worrier, and have a tendency to dwell on all of the things that might go wrong, challenge yourself to do the opposite. Each time you find yourself stuck in a negative feedback loop, write down all of your skeptical thoughts on a piece of paper, and then reframe each with something more positive and empowering. The more you challenge yourself to reframe your negative thoughts, the more comfortable and familiar you will become with the process, making you better equipped to shut down negative thoughts as they occur in the future. The easier this becomes, the less time you will spend obsessing over the ‘what ifs’.
4. IMPOSE TIME LIMITS
Another great tip for those who want to know how to stop overthinking is to impose time limits on yourself. Whether you’re struggling to make a decision, or needlessly worrying about the future, it can be really helpful to set some boundaries for yourself. Set a timer on your phone, and be deliberate with how you use that time. If you’re trying to make a decision about something, write a list of pros and cons. If you’re obsessing over something that’s making you anxious, use the time to challenge your negative thoughts. The point is to limit the time you spend overthinking, and to use that time brainstorming solutions and/or putting your mind at rest so you can move forward instead of getting stuck.
5. YOUR PAST DOES NOT DEFINE YOU
Whether you had a troubled childhood or made poor decisions in your past you wish you could erase, you need to stop allowing those things to define you. Remember that no amount of regret can change your past, and no amount of worry can change your future, and allow yourself to let go! What’s done is done, and the only thing you have control over is your attitude, so what’s it going to be? Are you going to allow your past to hold you back, or are you going to choose to rise above it and change your story?
6. KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
If you want to know how to stop overthinking and worrying about everything, ask yourself if the things that are weighing you down right now will matter a week, a month, or even a year from now. Some things might, but if you’re a chronic over-thinker and worrier, you’ll probably find you’re giving a lot of weight to things that are relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of your life. The trick is to get into the habit of checking in with yourself and your thoughts regularly to ensure you aren’t falling into the trap of thinking everything is a catastrophe.
If you spend a lot of time worrying about what might happen, another great tip is to plan ahead and ensure all your basis are covered. Make a list of all of the things that could go wrong and knock you off course, and then strategize how you will deal with each of them. This will give you a greater sense of control, which will alleviate unnecessary worry and stress.
8. ONLY TOUCH IT ONCE
I read a productivity hack last year called the ‘Touch It Once’ technique, and it completely changed my life. The idea is that once you ‘touch’ a task, you deal with it then and there so it’s taken off your plate, rather than ‘touching’ it multiple times and allowing it to take up extra energy and mental space. Of course, you can’t always complete a task through to completion the moment you ‘touch’ it, in which case you should make a firm decision on next steps and act on them to keep things moving forward. If you’re trying to figure out how to stop overthinking, this is a great tip to try as it will force you to deal with things head on, rather than ruminating over them and getting caught up in analysis paralysis.
9. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
My final tip for those who are trying to figure out how to stop overthinking everything is to spend some time each day writing out 3-5 things you’re grateful for. You can write these on a piece of paper or in the notes app on your smartphone, but if you need a bit more structure, I really love The Five-Minute Journal. It’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to train your brain to start and end each day with feelings of gratitude so you can learn how to be a happy and positive person. And it only takes 5 minutes to complete! It helps set the tone for your day and encourages you to create change from within while also reminding you to count your blessings and resolve conflicts before the day is done. It’s a powerful tool you can use to shift your focus and concentrate on the positives instead of the negatives, which is key for those who are trying to break the cycle of over-thinking and worrying about everything they do. Find out more about The Five-Minute Journal here.
If you want to know how to stop overthinking, I hope the tips and ideas in this post prove useful to you. Remember to acknowledge your fears, keep things in perspective, strategize solutions, and to set time limits and boundaries for yourself so you don’t get bogged down with analysis paralysis!
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