Did you know that because each of our brains functions differently the way we think and overthink is different too? What is common amongst us is the flurry of negative emotions overthinking can bring, leaving us feeling like we are drowning under them all and that there is no way out. Instead, we just keep spiralling and spiralling and spiralling into mental chaos and in some cases misery.
Overthinking is a subconscious act and to stop it requires us to make conscious changes. Here are 8 Wise Ways you can start to do that.
1. Track Your Thought Patterns
Know what you feel when you are overthinking, aiding in knowing yourself better. This in turn will enable you to observe a pattern in your behaviour when you are ruminating and understand your emotions better. Do you feel anxiety or fear when you’re overthinking? Or is it anger or a combination of innumerable emotions all at the same time? Knowing your emotions takes you one step closer towards identifying the cause(s) that’s pushing you towards overthinking, enabling you to treat the problem from its roots. Journaling is a powerful to tool to support with this.
2. Sieve Out Your Thoughts
Our brains are always at work unless we are asleep. And, hence, so are thoughts. They keep coming throughout the time we are awake. But it is up to you to decide whether you really want to entertain them. You needn’t accept every thought that comes your way. Instead, you can choose to sieve them out according to their priority, keeping the ones that are important, stashing the not-so-important ones in the waitlist, and disposing of those that aren’t essential at all or are expected to do you more harm than good. Let the power stay with you in such cases, rather than allowing your thoughts to overpower you.
You can use a journal to create three lanes/files. Lane 1: Priority, Lane 2: Waitlist, Lane 3: Bin.
3. Train Your Brain
Your brain does switch off when you are asleep. But here’s the fact – it doesn’t stop working completely. The parts of it that specialise in problem-solving remain alive and active even when you’re asleep or in a state of rest. So, when the brain is left on its own, it’s wired to go helter-skelter, overboard, and all over the place. This means that you need to know how to always keep it under check. And this you can do only by training it not to go on an overdrive, especially when you’re in a state of rest – the ideal time for it to overwork. An empty brain is a devil’s workshop, remember? Keep yourself diverted with activities that you love, so you don’t give your brain a chance to think beyond what is truly required. Creating a list of self-care stimulating activities is a great way to do this.
4. Focus on Your Body Over Your Mind
Very similar to keeping yourself busy with activities that interest you, but with a slight twist. Here, the focus is more on your physical self and its various sensations. Practice mindfulness by putting your thoughts on the back burner first. Then, do things like placing your hand tightly on your chest to feel your heartbeats, or close your eyes and feel each point of touch of your feet on the floor. You can also try dancing and while doing so, focus on every body movement, listen to the music, and feel the vibrations.
A PMR is a great exercise to use for this – you can find hundreds on Google.
5. Practice Meditation
Easier said than done but try it and there’ll be no looking back. Initially, opt for a few guided meditation sessions to get you in the groove and help you understand how you can navigate your way through it. There are innumerable such classes that you can find online, some of which are even free of cost for the free few sessions.
Apps like Calm and Headspace offer free or low-cost options for guided meditations.
6. Hyper-Focus on Your Daily Chores
If meditation is not your thing, you can pick up any mundane activity like folding laundry or putting your clothes out to dry and complete the chore without letting your mind wander. Make sure you stay hyper-focused and be in touch with the sensations that you feel throughout the activity.
Creating a list of go-to hyper-focus activities is a great way to think of what to do in the moment.
7. Take the Help of Nature
Nature is always rewarding. There is no problem that Nature cannot solve. Go for a walk or a jog amidst Nature or simply take some time out to stare at the greenery around you. If you are a city person with no or insufficient greenery in proximity, grow some greens at your home and reap its endless dividends for your overall health – mind, body, and soul. And when there’s Nature’s bounty to floor you, there’s no scope for futile overthinking at all.
Create your own local nature walks using Map my Walk. You can create walls in your area based on preferred distance and time it takes. You can also check out the walks of other people in your areas and be ins0ired by their creations too.
8. Journal & Get It All Out
Get it all out of your system in a journal – worry, discomfort, anxiety, fear – anything and everything that’s troubling you, making you overthink, and pushing you over the edge. Get a diary and write down everything that comes to your mind or write it down on your phone, if that sounds more convenient for you. Sooner than later, you will discover how cathartic it is and how you put your mind to rest immediately. No less than therapy indeed. Either get into the habit of journaling every day or do so whenever you feel your thoughts are becoming unbearable for you.
If you are not sure how to star journaling then buy a journal with prompts already in it such as my 8Wise 12-Week Journal, available (here)
These tips and many more resources and tools are available as part of the 8 Wise™ Wellness Programme which is available as one to one coaching sessions, training, through our book resources and podcast and through our new membership platform, launching soon. Through the programme you can develop the knowledge and skills needed to ‘Live the 8 Wise Way’ and develop optimal mental health and wellbeing for an improved quality of life.
If you would like to book a session or register for our next programme, get in touch today.
For more information on 8Wise and the mental health services provided check out the rest of this website.