Ever obsessed over something you said that someone could have been offended by, or thought way too much about a change in someone’s behaviour around you? Us too. Turns out, overthinking stuff is something that every one of us does from time to time, some of us more than others. We know it can drive you completely mad when all you are thinking about is that time last week when you made a joke no one found funny… so we’ve come up with a list of a few quick tips to try to stop this thinking in its tracks so you can get on with your life.
1) Notice it
It can be really hard to notice when you are doing something, especially when it’s a habit you just do without thinking about it. But, if you try to identify when you are overthinking and the kind of stuff it is about, you might start to notice a pattern. This could be that you always overthink interactions with certain people, or certain behaviours of your own. If a pattern is emerging, try to think about what you can do to stop this from happening each time without hurting your relationship with these people or, if others are making you feel anxious. If this is the case, it might be time to let them go. Give this a read if you think someone might not be a good friend to you.
2) Work it out on paper
So, one of the reasons why you might be overthinking stuff for a really long time could be that you aren’t remembering it right. After a while of worrying about something, your brain might start to see details completely differently to how they actually happened. So, a good way to stop this from happening would be to work it out on paper. Try writing out in bullet points exactly what happened, as soon as you notice that you are questioning it. Then take a step back from it and do something that will keep your mind occupied for a while. After this little break, read the paper again and you’ll see if you missed anything the first time around. Plus, looking at it with a clear head might show you there was no need to worry so much about the situation in the first place.
3) Time it
It might sound like a contradiction, but giving yourself a set amount of time to worry can help to stop it from taking over your entire life. Why not try setting a timer on your phone for five minutes, and use this time to worry about everything, writing it all down? Then when the timer goes off, put everything down, walk away and do something to take your mind off it. That way, you’ve given your brain the time it wants to freak out a bit, without it being the biggest part of your day.
4) Take a break
Taking a bit of time out from overthinking is definitely easier said than done. We never mean to do it, right? There are some things we can do though to empty out our brains from everything that is worrying us and give us a bit of distance from it. Try using some visualisation techniques to distance yourself from those thoughts, or use a mindfulness app (you can check out our Top 10 list here). Plus, meditation and mindfulness can be pretty great at keeping anxiety at bay in the rest of your life and you might find the more you do it, the less you need it to deal with overthinking.
5) Understand that no one is perfect
It can be really easy when you are worrying about everything to think that you are the only person who gets this worked up, and then you can start worrying about that. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling like crap. Believe us – we’ve been there.
A really important thing to remember is that you are not alone in feeling like this, and absolutely nobody on the planet is perfect all the time. If you think you’ve done something silly, or that might have upset someone, it is not the first time someone has done it and it won’t be the last. It should not mean that you no longer get to be friends with that person, or that it should be allowed to swallow up all your time.
Feeling stressed or anxious about something? Reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.