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6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything

https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/6-ways-to-stop-overthinking-everything.html

inc.com

6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything
While everyone overthinks situations once in a while, some people are plagued with a constant barrage of thoughts all the time. Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make, and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day. Thinking too much about something often involves more than words--overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too.

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Overthinkers

Overthinkers

Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day.

Thinking too much prevents them from getting anything done. And it wreaks havoc on their mood.

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Destructive thought patterns

Overthinking often involves two destructive thought patterns--ruminating and incessant worrying.

  • Ruminating involves dwelling on the past. "I should have stayed at my last job. I would be happier than I am now.""My parents didn't teach me how to be confident. My insecurities have always held me back."
  • Persistent worrying involves negative predictions about the future. "I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I'm going to forget everything I'm supposed to say."

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Notice when you're stuck in your head

Overthinking can become such a habit that you don't even recognize when you're doing it. Practice paying attention.

When you're overthinking past or future events, acknowledge that your thoughts aren't productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.

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Keep the focus on problem-solving

  • If the problem is something you have some control over, consider how you can prevent the problem or challenge yourself to identify five potential solutions.
  • If it's something you have no control over--like a natural disaster--think about the strategies you can use to cope with it. Focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and effort.

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Challenge your thoughts

Challenge your thoughts

Remember that your emotions will interfere with your ability to look at situations objectively. 

Take a step back and look at the evidence. What evidence do you have that your thought is true? What evidence do you have that your thought isn't true?

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Schedule time for reflection

Incorporate 20 minutes of "thinking time" into your daily schedule. During that time period let yourself worry, ruminate, or mull over whatever you want. When your time is up, move onto something else. 
When you start overthinking things outside of your scheduled thinking time, simply remind yourself that you'll need to wait until your "thinking time" to address those issues in your mind.

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Learn mindfulness skills

It's impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you're living in the present.

Mindfulness will help you become more aware of the here and now.

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Change the channel

Telling yourself to stop thinking about something will backfire.

Change the channel in your brain by changing your activity. Exercise, engage in conversation on a completely different subject, or work on a project that distracts you.

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Dangers of being an overthinker

  • It increases your chances of mental illness. And as your mental health declines, your tendency to ruminate increases.
  • It interferes with problem-solving. It will cau...

Put a Deadline on Your Thoughts

To avoid over-ruminating about a decision, give yourself a time frame to think about it. 

If it’s a small issue such as what paint color to paint your office, perhaps...

Schedule Your Thinking Time

To avoid thinking about problems all day long, schedule a specific time where you give yourself the freedom to think about the issue you need to make a decision about. 

If thoughts about the issue creep into your brain before your scheduled thinking time, tell yourself “No, I’m going to think about that after dinner, not during this meeting”.

Problem Solving vs. Worrying

Dwelling on a problem, thinking “this is horrible, I can’t handle this” or rehashing things that happened in the past are an unproductive use of your time.

Thinking about what steps you can take to improve the situation or actively thinking of a solution to the problem are helpful toward moving forward. 

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Put things into a wider perspective

When you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

It allows you to stop thinking about something and to focu...

Set short time-limits for decisions

  • For small decisions like if you should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out, give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.
  • For somewhat larger decisions that would  take you days or weeks to think through in general, use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.

Stop setting your day up for stress

  • Get a good start, that will set the tone for your day. (read or work-out and then start with the most important task of the day).
  • Single-task and take regular breaks. This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and to get what’s most important done while also allowing you to rest.
  • Minimize your daily input, especially from social media consumption. It will clutter your mind as the day progresses.