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. Thankfully, 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.
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.
Find whatever works for you to shock your senses, and keep it handy whenever possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
More About Positivity
- How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious
- 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About (And What to Do Instead)
- How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future
- How to Stop Worrying About the Future: 8 Practical Techniques
Featured photo credit: Caleb Frith via unsplash.com
|||^||Journal of Vacation Marketing: A Study of the impact of the expectation of a holiday on an individual’s sense of well-being|
|||^||The Sleep Doctor: The Relaxing, Sleep-Promoting, Health-Boosting Powers of Lavender|
|||^||Psychology Today: Why Is Gardening So Good for Our Mental Health?|
|||^||Very Well Mind: The Surprising Psychological Benefits of Music|
|||^||Health Harvard: Sour Mood Getting You Down? Get Back to Nature|
|||^||Northwestern Mutual: Planning & Progress Study 2018|
|||^||Psychology Today: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude|