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15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything

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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.

10 Secrets to Living a Happy Life No Matter How Old You Are 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

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Published on January 18, 2022

How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

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How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

Are you sick and tired of wasting your mental and emotional energy worrying about (and replaying) events in your mind? Even sabotaging yourself, your performance, and your relationships, at times? Constantly playing the “what if” game in your mind?

Let’s be honest, feeling anxious is miserable and unequivocally sucks the enjoyment out of life. It does this because it is impossible to be in the present moment when you are constantly worried about the future or past events. Here’s the deal—it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s talk about some tips on how to stop being anxious and get your calm back.

The Difference Between Feeling Anxious and Having Anxiety

Feeling anxious is just part of the human experience and is a normal stress response. When the stress is removed, the anxiety usually goes away, too. With an anxiety disorder, the stressful trigger is removed but the anxiety can still be present.[1]

There are multiple anxiety disorders with varying characteristics. If you are concerned that you may have one of them, it is best to be evaluated by your doctor, especially since anxiety is very common. According to research, up to 33% of all Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime.[2]

What Can You Do to Manage Feeling Anxious?

The good news is there’s a lot that you can do to stop being anxious. Science is learning more and more every day about ways we can manage feeling anxious.

I am a strong believer in being proactive and preventative. If you have a lot of stress in your life or are prone to feeling anxious, I always recommend establishing a foundation of good daily habits. That way, when something happens to poke the anxiety bear, you are already in a position to handle things.

Twenty tips may be overwhelming for some people but remember: you are not expected to incorporate every tip on this list. Look at it as a menu of potential helpful options. You can pick and choose whatever you want and leave the rest.

Here are 20 tips on how to stop being anxious:

1. Eat the Right Food

It might come as a surprise to some, but certain foods can make anxiety worse, such as sugary foods, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.[3]

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Here are some foods you can try instead that can help reduce anxiety: Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, Turmeric, Chamomile, yogurt, and green tea.[4]

2. Stay Hydrated

One simple tip to help you stop being anxious is by staying hydrated. Even being mildly dehydrated has been shown to worsen anxiety.[5] So, drink up! Water, that is.

3. Work Some Mindfulness Into Your Day

This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Meditation and diaphragmatic breathing (breathing into your belly and engaging your abdominals upon exhale) are what usually come to mind, but there are some other fast and easy exercises that can help calm you down almost immediately.

One of my favorites is called Five Things, and it’s based upon our five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). It can be done in any order.

For example, you might start by picking five things you can see. As you list each item, it’s important to take in the detail of each one. Next, you pick four things you can feel, noting each item with the same attention to detail. Work your way down to one item accompanying your last sense.

4. Get Some Exercise

Completing 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety. Even as little as 10 minutes has a positive impact.[6]

In one study, exercise was shown to be as effective as medication in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety, with higher intensity exercise more effective than lower intensity exercise.[7]

5. Sit With It/Observe It

Dr. Judson Brewer recently penned a book (and an app) entitled Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind in which he discusses turning toward our emotions as a way to process them rather than distracting ourselves or bottling things up (turning away).

He encourages people to be an observer of the emotional response in their bodies, almost as if conducting a research project in great detail and noting the exact location of physical sensations (stomach, right or left side, front or back) with as much detail as possible.

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6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach that utilizes the cyclical connection between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a means to control unwanted (anxious) thoughts.

One exercise to stop ruminating thoughts includes picturing a stop sign in great detail, instructing yourself to “stop,” and then changing the narrative to something positive, encouraging, or even more realistic or likely.

Another CBT exercise involves challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs for validity by asking yourself:

  • Is there evidence for my thought or am I making assumptions?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Is this likely?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • What’s most likely to happen?
  • Will this matter in a week, a year, or five years from now?

7. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control

Take action where you can. Many of us spend time worrying and feeling anxious over things we can’t control.

Figure out what you can do and take action from there. Studies show that taking action reduces anxiety.[8]

8. Gratitude

Reminding ourselves of the good things in our lives not only brings positivity to us but also reduces anxiety. This is because it is neurologically impossible for our brain to focus on negative and positive information at the same time.[9]

9. Volunteer or Do Something for Someone Else

Helping others feels good. It also reduces stress, boosts our immune system, and can help us live longer.[10]

10. Journal in the 3rd Person

The practice of journaling has long been known as a valuable tool to help us manage our emotions, and it can also help us stop being anxious and regain our calm.

Making a point to name the emotions you are experiencing (“name it to tame it”) is a principle Dr. Dan Siegel discovered that heightens the value of journaling. More recently, Dr. Kross, in his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, noted that journaling in the 3rd person (as if narrating your life) creates further value by creating some distance between you and the emotion you are experiencing, thus allowing you to breathe easier and gain perspective.

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11. Go Out Into Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve attention, lower stress, improve mood, reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders, and even cause upticks in empathy and cooperation.[11]

12. Spend Time With Animals

Dogs are not only your best friend, but it turns out they are good for your mental and emotional health, too. The fact that cats just allow you to live with them as their servant doesn’t detract from the positive impact they also have on our emotional well-being.

Spending time cuddling with your pet on the couch can decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have also found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.[12]

13. Get Good Sleep

Getting good sleep can be difficult when we feel anxious, but being tired can worsen the issue. Try sticking to a consistent bedtime, make your bedroom dark, the temperature cool, and limit screen time before going to sleep.

14. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol changes the level of neurotransmitters in our brain. This can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant, specifically stimulating our fight or flight response, which is already more sensitive for those struggling with anxiety. Use both in moderation.

15. Show Yourself Compassion and Encouragement

What would you say to your best friend? Many times we make things worse by shaming or berating ourselves for feeling anxious because we fear it makes us appear weak or vulnerable. This makes the problem worse.

What would your best friend say to you? Stop beating yourself up and be your own best friend.

16. Spend Time With Friends

Healthy friendships make us feel included, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and thus, help reduce anxiety.[13]

17. Create Balance in Your Life

Set healthy boundaries and priorities, and don’t be afraid to enforce them. Nobody else can do this for you. Value yourself. You are worth it.

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18. Have a Plan

Another tip to help you stop being anxious is to have a plan. Knowing what you will do takes away a lot of the “what if” thoughts in your mind. Being certain about some things and managing your expectations can help give you peace of mind.

19. Remind Yourself of a Past Event

You can also try to remind yourself of a past event in your life that you were anxious about but still ended up okay. Have confidence that you will make it through this situation, too.

20. Have Some Structure or Routine in Your Day

Knowing what to expect can significantly reduce anxiety and the fear that can accompany uncertainty.[14] Give yourself as much structure as you need. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to manage feelings of being anxious. Take charge and pick a few of these to try out. Be consistent, and see how you feel.

You can always discard what doesn’t work for you, and pick something else to try. Confide in a friend that you are implementing some new strategies, and get some support.

Always tell your doctor your concerns, and don’t hesitate to get help if you are having difficulty managing things on your own. Good luck!

More Tips for Calming Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

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