I am an over thinker. I have been for as long as I can remember. When I was struggling with anxiety and depression, this over thinking was brutal. I would lay in bed and rehash everything that was going on in my life especially things I “should” have done or be doing.
I was in bed last night and realized I still need to work on “turning off my brain”. This seems impossible but I think it is something that can be worked on. I have a lot going on right now in my life and I have some major decisions I need to make. So it is only natural to think about these decisions. But when does thinking about them turn into too much thinking? Can too much thinking turn into anxiety?
I was doing some research online and found some interesting ways in which to reduce the amount of over thinking. I am going to try and implement these into my daily life and thought I would share them with you as well.
If you are thinking in the present, you aren’t worrying about the past or the future. This is a learned skill in my mind. I think it is natural to think about what has happened and what might happen. But dwelling on it too much will cause you more harm than good. I have a feeling this will take time but I think it can be very effective. I have read a couple books on meditation and I think this can really help with the idea of being present and mindful. It is something I am going to explore further.
be aware of your thoughts
Start paying more attention to your thoughts and recognize when you are over thinking. It can be easy to get lost in your thoughts and not even be aware you are over thinking. Worrying about the same thing over and over or dwelling on something that is out of your control can really be harmful. Recognize you are doing it and then you can work to put a stop to it.
don’t CATASTROPHIze your thoughts
I am guilty of this at times. I turn something small into a huge blown up problem in my head when the reality is that it isn’t that big of a deal. For instance, buying a condo here is expensive. My thoughts go from not being able to buy a condo, to renting forever, to that looking like I don’t have my life in order, to what kind of woman will accept me if my life isn’t in order, to I am going to be single forever. That is how I thought at one point. Thankfully I don’t do this anymore but I know it is common with people who over think. Another example is calling in sick and thinking you will get fired and then become homeless because you don’t have a job. It can get blown out of proportion very quickly so it is important to realize this and keep it realistic.
Thinking is always bad. We need to spend time thinking in order to solve problems and make decisions. But keep the thinking on those things we have control over. Don’t dwell on what you should have done in the past or mistakes you may have made. Solve the problem in front of you and then stop thinking about it once you have made a decision. Easier said than done of course as you will probably think about it until there is a result but be conscious of it to try and reduce over thinking.
Spend time reflecting
I have found this to be very helpful. Sit down at some point in the day and reflect. For me this is usually best to do at night. I sit down and write in my journal and just get out onto paper things that are in my head. In doing so I am acknowledging what I have been thinking about and noting what I may need to do. I try to get everything out of my head and onto the paper so that when I go to bed, my mind is a bit more clear. I have noticed that it helps a lot more than I thought it would.
Distract your brain
Find activities or anything really that you can do to take your mind off whatever it is you think about. For me, when I get into bed at night I read until I fall asleep. The books take my mind somewhere else so I am not thinking about whatever is going on in my life. Whether it be exercise, watching movies, reading, backing etc., find activities or things you love to do to keep your mind occupied. There is nothing worse for an over thinker than free time where you are doing nothing. My mind goes all over the place when I have too much free time to think.
I hope some of these ideas will help you as they have helped me. I am still working on these and I think I always will be. Anything I can do to help improve my mental well-being I am always willing to do. Let me know if you have any other suggestions I can try that work for you.
As always, check out my resources page if you need any help finding some very helpful information and people to connect with to help you be a better version of you.