What to Do About Overthinking in 5 Key Steps
Do you ever find yourself in a complete tailspin of overthinking? Do you recognize those days when it’s just hard to switch off the mental treadmill of thoughts? When you wish you just had stillness and calm instead?
It can be hard to know what to do when feeling like that. Some people have a range of things that help them, like meditation, exercise, reading or talking with friends. All of these are a big support with overthinking.
And there are also some other things you can do that can help even more. Here are 5 key steps to add to the mix…
Check-in with how you are feeling:
Have a quick check-in around your day – what was your day like? Was it stressful or upsetting in any way? Sometimes our overthinking can be triggered by our emotional state. So, stop and think back on your day or your last few days – were there any particular situations or events that were stressful, challenging or upsetting for you? Reflect on your emotions around those events and give yourself some time to process those emotions.
Take your thoughts out of your head
Next, work to get all those overthinking thoughts out of your head. That can be by saying them out loud to a friend or partner. It could be writing those thoughts down on paper. If you choose to write them down, make sure to keep going until all those thoughts are out of your head. Give yourself a few minutes to make sure you have covered everything. Nothing is too big or too small to recognise. Get it all out. Pause and check again, if that feels like everything, then great – the first part of the job is done.
Filter out what’s relevant and what’s not
Now that you have all your thoughts down on paper, read through them, consider them and then begin to filter out those thoughts that you actually have direct control over and can do something about.
And then put a line through those thoughts that on reflection you can let go of, or don’t have any direct control of or capacity to change. Make a conscious decision to breathe those thoughts out and let them go, and only focus on those things that you have direct control and ownership of. These could be tasks that you feel you need to get done, people you need to get in contact with, whatever is actionable and within your control.
Pick your top 3 things to focus on
Now that you have your filtered list of thoughts, look at these and see if you can select 3 things to focus your time and energy on to explore, address or resolve. You can choose those things to focus on per day, or per week, whatever fits best for you. Remind yourself you are one person so make sure to set a realistic time frame for yourself when working to address those thoughts that have stood out for you.
My advice is this – wash, rinse and repeat
These strategies can be really helpful in clearing out the clutter that we can carry around with us in our heads. So, try and use this strategy on a regular basis. That habit in itself will help avoid a build-up of overthinking which can, over time, leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired or coping with headaches and restless sleep. So, make this a regular routine for yourself. Commit to doing this once a week, once a month, whatever feels like the best support for you.
Certainly, that regular check-in and assessment of your thoughts, filtering out what is relevant and not, and then looking at what you can take action on, clears out that mental clutter that would otherwise be swirling around in your head over a long period of time. So, stop, reflect, write it all down, filter out what’s not relevant, choose three things to focus on and then wash, rinse, repeat regularly.
So, is this something that would be helpful for you? Want to give it a try?