Research shows thinking less about a problem might actually be the key to developing better solutions.
Here are a few ways to stop overthinking.
Rather than sit and think about a problem for endless amounts of time, you can distract yourself for a bit.
Your brain may find better ways to work out a solution in the background while you’re distracted with another task—like working in the garden. Or, you might “sleep on it” and discover that your brain solves the problem for you while you’re sleeping.
A brief distraction can give you a break. And it may get your mind focused on something more productive. And, your brain might even develop a solution for you when you stop thinking about the problem.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Remind yourself that your thoughts are not facts. Every thought you have will not be truthful, accurate, or even realistic. Learning how to reframe them in a more positive way can help relieve the tendency to overthink.
When you find yourself over-thinking, challenge these thoughts. Ask yourself if they are realistic. Consider alternative scenarios. It can be difficult at first, but learning to call out your own over-thinking can help you learn to replace negative thoughts with more helpful ones.
Work on Your Inter-personal Skills
Studies have found that improving your inter-personal skills can help stop you from overthinking since these skills have a large effect on this particular habit. Ways to develop stronger interpersonal skills include:
· Increasing your self-awareness
· Boosting your self-confidence
· Practicing self-control
Meditation can be an excellent tool for redirecting your thoughts more positively. As you meditate, work on focusing on your breath. The goal is not to clear your mind, but rather to focus it on something and practice redirecting your focus whenever your thoughts wander.
With practice, you will find it much easier to halt over-thinking in its tracks before it becomes a more serious problem. Research has found that a 10-minute meditation can be an effective way to stop intrusive thoughts and worry.
Over-thinking often stems from dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about things that you cannot change. Instead of berating yourself for things you might regret, try working toward being more accepting and compassionate of yourself.
Research suggests that people who extend themselves such compassion are more likely to use adaptive coping strategies.
Strategies that may help you become more self-accepting include:
· Practicing gratitude and thinking about the aspects of yourself that you appreciate
· Cultivating a strong support system made up of people who can provide encouragement and love
· Forgive yourself for things you regret
If you can’t break free from over-thinking, consider getting professional help. Over-thinking may be a symptom of a mental health issue, like depression or anxiety. On the flip side, it may also increase your susceptibility to developing mental health problems.
A mental health professional may teach you skills that will help you stop obsessing, ruminating, and dwelling on things that aren’t helpful. They may also help you identify coping strategies that work for you, such as mindfulness or physical exercise.
If you feel like your brain is on overdrive, talk to your physician. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a therapist who can help you put an end to overthinking.
Over-thinking can create an endless cycle of stress and worry, which can ultimately cause you to feel less prepared, motivated, and confident. It can also play a role in mental health issues like anxiety and depression, so it is important to find ways to break out of such destructive thought patterns.
Self-help strategies like distracting yourself and challenging your thoughts can help. If overthinking is taking a toll on your well-being, consider talking to a mental health professional. They can help you develop the mental tools and coping skills you need to prevent over-thinking.