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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything

15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything

Would people call you a “worrier?” Are your fingernails bitten down to little nubs because you’re constantly thinking about the general “what ifs” of life?

Think about how much you’re missing out on because of worry. Does it take you away from fun social events? Does it impact your performance at work? Does it keep you from getting close to someone in a new relationship? How could having simple resources at your fingertips to stop overthinking so much impact your life for the better?

Worrying itself isn’t a disease. In fact, it’s a problem a lot of people face. But when you let overthinking take over your life, it can eventually turn into anxiety.

So, how to stop overything everything?

There are things you can do to stop overthinking about every little thing — That doesn’t mean you ignore the hard stuff, it means you can take a breath and relax a bit more!

Of course, it takes practice and time to stop overthinking after years of making it a habit.

By utilizing some of the tips listed here, you can start to find some peace and freedom from the things that plague your thoughts each day.

1. Realize You’re Doing It

The first step in putting a stop to overthinking about everything is to acknowledge that you’re a worrier. Think it sounds easy? Not exactly.

It’s hard for us, as human beings, to admit we’ve got a problem — big or small. However, realizing that you overthink things is the only way you’ll even have a desire to put a stop to it or make a change.

The next time you catch yourself worrying about something, pump the brakes. You don’t have to dig into the underlying cause of that worry just yet. Instead, acknowledge the fact that you might be overthinking the subject.

That simple “pause” and acknowledgment can help you come back to the reality of the situation and make it feel less scary and overwhelming.

2. See the World — or At Least Your Community

Did you know that travel is scientifically proven to ease anxiety, stress, and depression? Sounds like a perfect excuse to buy that plane ticket and plan a trip to go backpacking in Europe, right?

Traveling can help to give you a new perspective on life. It also gives you something to look forward to, which can be a welcomed distraction from your worries.

To put it simply: a holiday can make you happier. A 2002 study performed by the University of Surrey found that people who know they have a vacation coming up are happier.[1]

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It also helps to give your brainpower a boost and increases your overall satisfaction with life. More satisfaction means less time to worry!

The good news? You don’t necessarily have to leave the country, or even your state to take advantage of the benefits of travel. Explore your community, spend a night at a local bed and breakfast, take a staycation or take part in a local tourist attraction you’ve never seen before.

3. Don’t Believe Every Thought

Don’t believe the lies your own mind tells you.

It seems like a simple enough statement, but it’s hard to do for people who are chronic worriers or who tend to overthink everything.

The truth is, you have the power to take control of your thoughts. When negative self-talk creeps in, you don’t have to believe it. You can acknowledge it — and you should. But you have a choice on whether you let it take over. Just because your own mind is telling you to overthink about something, or be fearful about something doesn’t mean you have to.

Interesting concept, isn’t it? The best part is, you can put this tip into practice every time worry tries to slither its way in and ruin your day.

4. Distract Yourself

You can distract yourself from yourself.

When you overthink things, those thoughts and worries start to take over your mind. You can fight back against them by immediately doing something else that engages your brain.

This could include writing in a journal, doing twenty pushups, reading an article, or calling up your best friend. Whatever you can do to get yourself out of that moment of worry, take action and do it.

You might be surprised at how quickly the thoughts pass through when you don’t give them the power to take over.

5. Confuse Your Senses

Overthinking and worrying are mental activities, so if they start to take hold, do something physical.

You can essentially “shock” your senses by taking the power away from one area of your body and giving it to another. Sounds confusing? It’s not.

For example, if you start to feel fearful about the uncertainty of an upcoming event, splash some cold water on your face, or smell some calming lavender oils. Your brain will start to react to the sudden change, and you’ll have less of an ability to focus on the worrisome thoughts.[2]

Find whatever works for you to shock your senses, and keep it handy whenever possible.

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6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You’ve probably heard this expression before, but when you’re an over-thinker, you should really take it to heart.

There are things in life you’re going to be able to control, and things you can’t. Recognize the things you can’t control and accept them for what they are.

That means you’re going to have to let some things go. It’ll take time and practice, but the more aware you are of the things you can’t control, the easier it will eventually become to stop fretting about them so much.

There will always be bigger, more important things ahead, so don’t let the things that don’t really matter paralyze you with worry.

7. Go Easy on Yourself

You’re not perfect, and you don’t have to be.

That’s more than a motivational speech, it’s a reality. Perfectionism is often linked with overthinking and anxiety, but the two actually work in a vicious cycle. People often pursue perfection in order to deal with worry and anxiety, but that tends to make them even more anxious because it’s impossible to be perfect.

It’s not easy to admit and accept imperfections, but when you realize no one is perfect, you can take baby steps toward letting go of your worrying thoughts and give yourself some slack.

Take a look at these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

8. Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

Photography, especially nature and landscape photography, can reduce stress and help to distract you from your own worries and overthinking.

Why does it work? When you’re taking photographs, you’re in the present moment. You’re being mindful of the world around you and what you’re viewing through a screen. You won’t have time to worry, because your mind isn’t allowed to wander to your past or future, at least for a few moments.

Photography also allows you to open up your creative side, which is a stress-reducer, and a way to find more balance each day. You don’t have to become a professional — just find what inspires you and start snapping!

9. Get Your Hands Dirty

You don’t have to have a green thumb in order to take advantage of the benefits of gardening.

According to Psychology Today, gardening can provide you with mental health benefits like relaxation and mindfulness. It allows you to vent your worries, your aggressions, and even your excessive thoughts. It also gives you a healthy sense of control, which can offer a nice balance for someone who tends to think too much.[3]

If you’re new to the gardening game, start small and use some simple hacks so you don’t get overwhelmed. Plant some seedlings in eggshells to get them started, and use cooking water on your plants as a natural fertilizer.

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Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful garden from all of your efforts, and an outlet to dig your worries away.

10. Listen to Music

Turn up the radio, put your headphones in, and blast your favorite tunes.

Music has many healing properties and psychological benefits. It can improve your concentration, reduce stress, and give your memory a boost.[4]

Music can also help you to be more self-aware, which makes it easier to identify overthinking habits. When you’re actively engaged in listening or playing music, you’re more mindful of the moment and less worried about everything else.

Choosing to listen to music also offers a welcomed distraction, which brings us to our next point.

11. Get Up and Get Moving

Sometimes, sweat can be the best cure for a worried mind.

There are so many benefits to exercise, including a boost in your cardiovascular health and an improvement in mood. Aside from being a part of a healthy lifestyle, exercise also has psychological benefits.

Exercise allows you to set goals, which will keep you focused (and distracted from worries). You’ll also achieve a sense of accomplishment when you reach those goals. So, not only are you doing something good for your body, but you’re giving your brain a boost and kicking your worries to the curb in the process.

Bonus points: choose to exercise outside as spending time in nature has its own mood-boosting benefits![5]

12. Build a Budget

One of life’s biggest stressors is money.

In fact, according to a study by Northwestern Mutual, it’s the number one source of stress for Americans. On the flip side, the same study also found that most people feel happier and more confident when they know they’ve got a handle on their finances.[6]

If one of your major worries involves how much money you have, a simple solution is to pay more attention to it. Creating a budget, especially for a growing family, allows you to better identify your spending habits and decide where you can cut back and what your financial priorities really are.

Money might be a major worry for some people, but with a little extra time and planning, you can get it under control to the point where you’ll hardly ever have to think about it.

13. Practice Meditation

Meditation has been stereotyped into a corner for years, but it doesn’t have to be what you see in the movies.

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Meditation is simply a relaxation technique that allows you to be mindful and focused on the present moment, rather than letting your anxious thoughts take over.

You don’t have to practice any special rituals in order to meditate. Finding just a few minutes a day to sit in silence, focus on your breathing, and let thoughts come and go freely can make a big difference in the overall health of your mental state.

It can take practice to clear your head, even for a few minutes, but try to make meditation a part of your daily routine and you’ll undoubtedly start to recognize the calming effects it can have.

Here’re some meditation techniques you can try: How Do You Meditate? 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Practice Gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude is more than just a cheesy saying they told you at summer camp — it’s a necessity for someone who overthinks everything.

The benefits of gratitude range from physical to psychological. It can improve your self-esteem and increase your overall mental strength.[7]

By keeping a daily journal of things you’re grateful for, you’ll have something to reference and look back on in moments that feel overwhelming, or when you find yourself drowning with worry. Gratitude can give you a different perspective on things, so the situations you’re overthinking about become less important.

When you take the time to actually think about what you’re thankful for — 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For, you might find that there are fewer things to worry about.

15. Understand What Motivates Your Worry

Have you ever wondered why you overthink and worry so much?

If you take the time to think about it, there might be some underlying causes as to why you struggle so much with excessive worry.

It’s not easy to face your fears, but it’s also not easy to face what might be causing those fears. Find some time and a safe space where you can really look inside yourself to better understand your motivations, so you can take control of them and possibly get the help you need to get rid of them.

It’s not always easy to take back your freedom from fear, but it’s not impossible.

Final Thoughts

Worrying about everything can really take over your life, keeping you from experiences, relationships, and a sense of contentment. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever.

By utilizing some of the tips listed here and making them a part of your everyday life, you can kick worry to the curb once and for all.

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More Tips for Calming Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Caleb Frith via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

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Published on June 22, 2021

Can Coffee Cause Anxiety Or Depression?

Can Coffee Cause Anxiety Or Depression?

Waking up groggy, eyes adjusting to the light, everything is a little blurry, you stumble into the kitchen and get your first cup of joe brewin’. The smell hits you first—a nice dark roast perhaps, and then finally, your first sip, ahhhhh . . . You begin the rest of your morning routine and that beautiful, aroma-filled beverage in your cup kick-starts your day.

But have you ever wondered if your morning coffee ritual is actually contributing to anxiety or depression? If so, I got some answers for you in this article

We’ve become a coffee-crazed culture—drinking it for pleasure, to relax, as a treat, drinking it to socialize, and not least of all, for energy. Suffice to say, all that coffee craze can lead to an unhealthy dependency. How else can we keep our energy up, treating ourselves along the way, to accomplish all the things we need and want to get done in life?

So, here’s the lowdown on coffee, anxiety, and depression.

Coffee and Depression

There’s some very interesting research out there about coffee and depression. It turns out that coffee might actually be a protective factor against depression and is even correlated with a reduction in suicide.[1] That’s a pretty amazing finding for coffee lovers and those who deal with depression or suicidality!

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In fact, studies have talked about this very interesting outcome. However, before we get too excited, let’s hit the pause button and clarify a few things. I do say “might” because research is research, and although this gives us some evidence, it’s always important to remember that each of our bodies reacts differently to different environments, circumstances, or substances, and there are a lot of variables at play, so nothing is 100%—but it is a good indicator for sure!

Some of the variables to consider in these studies include the overall lifestyle of subjects and control groups as well as a super important one—whether the coffee they were drinking is caffeinated or decaffeinated as much of the research isn’t clear. So, there’s some more work to be done there, but that’s encouraging!

And that’s not all. Coffee, which is most often connected to unhealthy habits, was taken off the WHO’s list of carcinogenic foods in 2016, a somewhat rare move. The WHO even reports that coffee may protect against cancer of the uterus and liver. And they are not alone, several other, well-known and esteemed organizations, such as The World Cancer Research Fund and the US Department of Health and Human Services, have also declared that coffee consumption in moderation (three to five cups per day) can have positive effects on your health and protect you from various forms of cancer.[2][3]

When it comes to depression, it was found that it may not be only the caffeine at play, as there are other impactful components in coffee. The more notable are chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid, all of which have been found to reduce inflammation of nerves which is found to be a factor in the brains of people suffering from depression. More good stuff!

Coffee and Anxiety

The research on coffee and anxiety, however, is not quite as positive for those who suffer from anxiety as it is for those who suffer from depression. And it’s not all that surprising either, but there was something that I did find interesting in all of the reading I did on this subject.

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By and large, it was found that if you don’t suffer from anxiety, coffee will likely not have too much of a negative impact on you when consumed in moderation. However, when caffeine doses increase to more than 400mg per day, symptoms associated with anxiety may appear, such as restlessness, jitteriness, and trouble sleeping. In those who suffer from anxiety, it will take far less to exacerbate their already present symptoms of anxiety—not too surprising.[4]

But anecdotally, there is a lot of documentation about people quitting coffee for a period of time and writing about the impact on their anxiety, which was found to be fairly negligent. So, overall, if you suffer from anxiety, there is a good chance that moderate coffee consumption will not have too much of an impact on your anxiety, though it certainly won’t help it.

How Does Coffee Affect Your Mood?

When it comes to your overall mood, the thing you should think about is how your body responds to caffeine as this is the primary issue for most people—depression or anxiety aside—and our bodies have different sensitivities to caffeine.

Some people can drink espresso right before bed and have no trouble sleeping but for others, it could guarantee a night of restlessness with lots of tossing and turning! And poor sleep contributes to irritability, less resistance to dealing with life stressors as well as other poor health indicators, and hence, lowered mood.

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential especially when dealing with chronic anxiety. So, if you fall into this camp, then it might be good for you to moderate your coffee consumption or even just evaluate and assess for yourself to see what the impact might be on a period of time with no caffeine.

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It’s important that you get to know your body and how it reacts to different substances and environments. Running a little experiment on yourself can be a fun way to get to know and understand your body and how you metabolize caffeine.

The Bottom Line on Coffee, Anxiety, and Depression

Overall, the research says that there are potentially a few health benefits when it comes to depression and coffee drinking than on coffee and anxiety—where it is found to have a negative or neutral impact. Furthermore, there is an array of other potentially beneficial health impacts from drinking coffee.[5]

Given all of this various research—some of it very promising (around depression) and some of it not surprising (anxiety)—coffee is not going to eradicate any mental health concerns, though it does not necessarily seem to cause them. The most important thing to consider when thinking about the impact of coffee drinking on your anxiety or depression is that it can aggravate sleep issues, which is a really important piece of your self-care when dealing with depression, anxiety, or any mental health issue for that matter.[6]

Wanna Cut Back on Your Coffee Drinking?

If you are looking to cut back a little on how much coffee you drink or even just run that little experiment on yourself that I was referring to, then you can start with a few simple tips.

1. Cut Back Gradually

Caffeine is a stimulant, and you will likely feel some physiological symptoms, such as a headache, brain fog, and general fatigue. This will last for a day or two, possibly more depending on how much caffeine you have been consuming. Before you start cutting back, it is good to know about how much caffeine you are drinking in a day. That way you can gradually cut back by a beverage each day or so.

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2. Make Sure You Stay Hydrated

Coffee—or caffeine for that matter—is a diuretic, which means that it will naturally dehydrate you, so cutting down will most likely help with dehydration. However, with that said, it is still important to make sure you are drinking enough fluids as that will help minimize the effects of the withdrawal.

3. Get Plenty of Rest

You will naturally feel a little tired when cutting back on caffeine/coffee, make sure you get enough rest, giving your body a chance to adjust and recuperate from the withdrawal.

4. Increase Your Physical Activity

Try to increase your physical activity a little. Physical activity is known to increase mood, which will counter the irritability you may feel when cutting back on your coffee intake.

5. Take Notes

Keep a little log or journal to write down how you are feeling on different days and how much, if any, caffeine you are drinking at various points in your “trial.” Think about your mood, how you feel, how you are sleeping, and possibly how you feel it is impacting your relationships and your daily activities. When you go back to look at your data, you will be able to assess the impact of caffeine and coffee intake more accurately.

Keep in Mind

How much coffee we drink and its impacts vary widely depending on many, many factors. The best bet for you is to know yourself, pay attention to how coffee impacts you, talk to your doctors, and consider your personal life circumstances. Taking all of these steps will help you to make an informed decision for yourself, which will likely change over time.

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Featured photo credit: Drew Coffman via unsplash.com

Reference

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