Everyone overthinks situations sometimes, but they can usually push it away or move on. Other times, overthinking is all-consuming, plaguing you with constant negative thoughts. You might repeat past conversations in your mind or second-guess every decision you make.
Overthinking can cause you to envision disastrous outcomes. You might think of negative words or picture catastrophic images, such as driving your car off the road or experiencing other distressing events. A problem continually enters your mind, and you can stop dwelling on it.
You spend your time and energy trying to find meaning to your negative thoughts. Plus, you’ll continually look for solutions to your issues, even when there’s no real threat. This thinking can cause mental health issues and interfere with your well-being.
Overthinkers know it’s a struggle, but there seems to be nothing they can do to stop the thoughts. You can use some methods to help you get past the issue, allowing you to focus on positivity again. When you can push away negative thoughts, it’ll empower you and alleviate stress.
How to Know If You’re Overthinking
Acknowledging that you’re overthinking is the first step to making yourself stop. You must determine if you’re overanalyzing or if your thoughts are healthy. Some signs that you’re overthinking include:
- Constantly looking for threats when you’re in a safe place
- Seeking reassurance as strategies to calm down
- Planning excessively
- Dwelling on the past
- Replaying conversations in your mind
- Obsessing over things you can’t control or change
- Second-guessing all of your decisions
- Rehashing past mistakes
- Struggling to make decisions or take action
- Thinking of the worst-case scenario
How Overthinking Affects You
Overanalyzing might seem harmless, but it has many detrimental effects on you and your life. It can interfere with how you engage with the world around you. Plus, it can skew your view of your experiences.
It can prevent you from making necessary decisions or working toward your goals. Overanalyzing also interferes with your happiness and ability to enjoy the present moment. It drains your energy and affects your mental and physical health.
Some of the issues that overthinking can cause include:
- Inability to cope with everyday stressors
- Feelings of emptiness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Poor cardiovascular health
How to Make Yourself Stop Overthinking Immediately
Try these techniques to help ease your worried mind.
1. Practice Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness helps you live in the present and stay aware of what’s happening. It’s hard to overanalyze the past if you only think of your current situation. The more you practice mindfulness, the better you’ll be able to push away negative thoughts.
2. Identify Your Triggers
If you know your trigger thoughts, you can work to avoid them. Studies show that your brain produces thousands of ideas daily, involving associations and memories. With all these things entering your mind, it’s easy to let them consume you.
Most thoughts you experience don’t hold significance and come and go without a second thought. However, overthinkers don’t have it so easy because some of the thoughts stick with them. These thoughts are trigger thoughts as they entice overanalyzing situations that don’t matter right now.
These trigger thoughts can develop into rumination or worry involving hypothetical situations. You’ll ask yourself “what if,” “why,” and “how,” followed by negative thoughts that are unhelpful or untrue.
Identifying the thoughts, you can’t dismiss can help you stop overthinking immediately. When you know what will happen, you won’t use as much energy or time letting your thoughts run wild. Your goal should be to release the trigger thoughts and return to your current task.
3. Take a Step Back and Assess
If you notice that you’re starting to overanalyze, take a step back and assess the situation. Your response to an experience can keep you in an endless cycle of repetitive thinking. When you reassess the situation, think about how it affects your mood, whether it makes you feel irritated, nervous, or guilty.
Sometimes it helps to consider how the situation will affect you five or ten years from now. Most of the things you overanalyze won’t affect your life later on. If you can think about it this way, you won’t let things bother you as much.
4. Do Something About It
Taking action is the best thing you can do when you’re overthinking. Don’t let the thoughts run wild without thinking of a plan. Let your negative thoughts lead you to make better life choices.
It might help if you write down ideas for how you can accomplish your goals. When the negative thoughts kick in, refocus your thoughts by taking notes. It can make all the difference and change your life for the better.
5. Recognize When You’re in a Negative Thought Loop
When you overthink, it’s sometimes hard to even realize you’re doing it. If you recognize the thought patterns, you can snap out of them before it spirals too far. Remind yourself that the negative thought loop isn’t productive and won’t help you.
6. Consider What You Can and Can’t Control
Many times, overthinking occurs over things you can’t control. It leads to spiraling thoughts when you feel like you have no options and can’t make a positive change. While you can’t control the thoughts that come to mind, you can control how you respond to them. You can choose to let it go or to engage in negative thinking.
If you choose to ignore the thoughts and return to what you’re doing, the negativity will eventually go away. It might bug you for a while, but you can decide to continue ignoring them until they don’t bother you anymore. You might not be able to control every situation or thought, but you can control what you will engage with.
7. Do an Act of Kindness
Doing something kind for others can make you feel like a new person. You’ll distract yourself from the negative thinking for a while as you focus on helping someone else. Doing something kind boosts your confidence and happiness, so it helps in multiple ways. Helping others also allows you to feel empowered, helping keep the negativity at bay.
8. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts can fester and turn into exaggerated assumptions. When this happens, challenge them. You don’t have to give in to every thought that crosses your mind.
If you don’t challenge your thoughts, it’ll interfere with your ability to move forward. Challenge them by considering what proof you have that your thoughts are accurate. Then consider what evidence you have to prove that it isn’t true. Chances are, you’ll have more evidence showing that it’s untrue.
9. Distract Yourself
Anytime you start overanalyzing something you can’t control, try to find a distraction. Do something that you enjoy and will keep your mind busy. You can also take the time to learn a new skill or find a new hobby.
While it’s not always easy to start something new when overthinking, you’ll be glad you did it. Once you find that it eases your negative thoughts, it’ll be an exciting activity for you to look forward to each day.
10. Focus on Problem-Solving
Overthinking isn’t helpful, but finding solutions to your problems are. Create a plan if your thoughts relate to something you can prevent or fix. Even better, come up with a few plans just in case one doesn’t work out.
Focusing on problem-solving allows you to put your energy into something helpful instead of letting your thoughts spiral. If you can’t do anything about the problem you’re thinking of, come up with a plan for how you’ll handle your feelings. You can always control your attitude, and sometimes that’s all the plan you need.
11. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can help refocus your thoughts and bring you to the present. If you can’t seem to eliminate your negative thinking, take a few moments to breathe. Find a comfortable place to sit and relax while breathing through your nose.
Pay attention to the way your chest and stomach move as you breathe. Do this a few times a day for at least five minutes, and you’ll feel much better. It’ll help if you do it anytime your thoughts start racing.
12. Remember Your Successes
When overthinking, it’s easy to obsess over what went wrong in your life. Instead of giving in to those thoughts, remember all you have achieved.
Get out a notebook and write down a few things you have accomplished. Write one list of things that happened throughout your life and one for the past week or two.
These accomplishments don’t have to be prominent. They can include things like sticking to your budget or cleaning our bedroom. The goal is to help you see that things are going well, even when your thoughts threaten to convince you otherwise.
Final Thoughts on Ways to Make Yourself Stop Overthinking Immediately
You don’t have to let overthinking interfere with or ruin your life. Take a step back and consider how the overanalyzing affects you now and long term. It hinders your progress and disrupts your well-being.
If you’re prone to overthinking and are ready to make a change, these ways can help you. Implement one or two methods at first, and then add more as you become comfortable. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well they improve your life.