Ready to learn how to stop overthinking and worrying…Let’s take control of your thought life, rather than your thoughts controlling you!
Do you over think and worry incessantly about things? If so, it probably seems a lot like circling the same block over and over. I call it – getting a case of the what-ifs! Isn’t it exhausting?… imagining every single possible scenario?!
Or maybe the overthinking and worrying is more related to something you did or said. Then we replay the same situation over and over in our mind. It’s like hitting repeat on the same bad song. Ugh!
In this article, I’m gonna outline simple strategies on how to stop overthinking and worrying. I do have to warn you that obsessively overthinking is a like a stubborn stain that isn’t easily removed. Furthermore, it’s like one of those stains that you remove, but it keeps coming back. However, with practice and willingness, you might be surprised by the effectiveness of these strategies. The “How to Stop Feeling Anxious Workbook” goes even further in depth. Check it out here.
Imagine being more in control of your thoughts. Experts estimate the average person thinks 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. If we are unable to harness those thoughts, it will be like a chaotic 3 ring circus in our head! How on earth will we be able to function, concentrate and accomplish daily tasks?
Put the 3 ring circus out of your head. Instead, picture a day without overthinking and worrying. Is the peace washing over you as you imagine it? No more exhausting scenarios that drain us. Increased ability to focus on the God-given tasks set before us.
What is overthinking a symptom of?
“Ten Signs You’re an Overthinker” at inc.com, indicates over thinking is linked to depression and anxiety. Over thinking will erode your mental health. Consequently, as your mental health declines, the overthinking and worry will increase. That’s not good!
Why do people over think?
The unknown is the scariest thing we face. Furthermore, our brains are wired to fill in gaps of missing information. When we overthink and worry, we are imagining so many different scenarios in preparation for what may come. Preparation gives some sense of control – a sense of control helps ease the anxiety (in the short run). Not a great long term solution though. It’s far more effective to stop the thoughts that lead to overthinking and worry rather than just managing the worry.
Do I over think?
Let’s see – the Merriam Webster dictionary defines over thinking as: to think too much about something; putting too much time into thinking and analyzing something in a way that is more harmful than helpful.
Urban dictionary gave a more pointed definition, in my opinion: when you obsess over certain situations over and over, the thoughts become more frequent and you begin to fantasize different outcomes and possibilities, most of them unrealistic, but your brain lets you worry about the worst options, but can keep you awake at night and give you the worst feelings.
Well? With those definitions in mind, are you still wondering, “do I over think?” Here’s a little more about signs you might be an overthinker…
10 Signs of Overthinking and Worrying
1. You’re not present emotionally with others; often distracted.
2. You constantly ruminate on thoughts, circling the same thought block over and over.
3. You keep bringing up the same stuff over and over when talking with others.
4. You tend to focus on future/past rather than living presently.
5. You tend to relive and embarrassing moments.
6. You can’t shut off the brain to fall asleep at night.
7. You replay conversations over and over in your head.
8. You avoid engaging, in order to avoid overthinking the interaction later on.
9. You have difficulty concentrating on the tasks set before you.
10. Your overthinking holds you back from being your authentic self.
Now that we’ve identified what constitutes overthinking and worrying – we must figure out how to stop the madness! Let’s reclaim some peace of mind by identifying how to stop overthinking and worrying.
One more thing before I outline how to stop over thinking and worrying – I want to encourage you for a moment…
When thoughts are racing around in our head, we begin to give up on controlling them. We think, “I can’t control my thoughts” , so we don’t. God does not call us to do anything He has not equipped us to do. That means we can take thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). We’ve been given a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We have access to a peace that surpasses understanding that will guard our mind (Philippians 4:7). Feeling bold and encouraged by god’s promises? Good!
Let’s get to work!
How to Stop Overthinking and Worrying
1. Write it down.
Our thoughts can get all jumbled and chaotic in our head. Picture this – think of a time your closet was a mess. As you begin to create order, you typically take things out and bring them into light. Things just got messier – so it is with writing it down, at first. But, writing it down brings things in to light. Once thoughts are exposed in the light we can begin sorting and organizing them. Like the closet, we determine what is kept and what is tossed. Through journaling, we choose which thoughts need to go and which need to stay.
Sign up to get the anxiety journaling work sheet. (The journaling worksheet is actually right out of the anxiety workbook. Learn more here.)
2. Identify what is in your circle of control.
If we are really honest, much of the time we spend overthinking and worrying, is about things that are completely out of our control. Why would we continue to worry about other people’s actions, thoughts or opinions?
We don’t actually have control over other people had all. Attempting to gain control over what is out of our control will increase over thinking and worry.
3. Weigh the cost and benefit of overthinking and worrying.
If you overthink and worry about a situation, what are you gaining? Really think about this – often we have much more to lose by overthinking the situation. Step back and consider whether or not overthinking and worry will yield any benefits.
4. Shift thoughts.
Science proves you can only think one thought at a time. Additionally, we can choose to put our thoughts on something positive, rather than over thinking and worrying. It’s impossible to process positive and negative thoughts at the same time. What are you going to choose to think about?
5. Schedule time to overthink and worry.
As silly as it sounds, setting aside time to overthink and worry gives ourselves permission to live in the present. We are ultimately saying to ourselves – “I will give this situation attention, but it isn’t right now.” Also, set a timer – and then you have a start and stop time! I don’t recommend this before bed.
6. Renew your mind.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
There is nothing on this earth, more transforming than the Word of God. Renewing the mind shifts our focus from overthinking and worrying to God. When I am reminded of His attributes – power, love, sovereignty- I grow fearless. He makes me brave!
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
The act of prayer puts this picture in my head: handing my overthinking and worrying off to the Most High. Praying brings peace that the things out of my control are being entrusted to the One who can change anything in a single moment.
Wrapping Up How to Stop Overthinking and Worrying
First, know this: in you can control your over thinking and worry. Practice will make you really good at it, too! Can you imagine having more peace, joy and rest? Quick recap…
7 Strategies to Stop Overthinking and Worrying
1. Write it down
2. Identify what is in your control and what isn’t
3. Weigh the cost and benefit of worry and overthinking
4. Shift thoughts
5. Schedule time to overthink and worry
6. Renew your mind
What would you add to the list? Leave a comment and share this article if you found it helpful!