As a life coach for over 25 years, one topic that comes up most is how to stop overthinking.
Whether it’s my sons, my clients, myself… it’s an annoying thing to deal with!
We want peace! We want to be free of the monkey mind!
But noooooooo…. the mind is going 24/7 and robbing us of our joy!
Since humans on average have about 60,000 thoughts a day, we’re thinking a lot! So, overthinking only makes the thinking situation worse!
There are a few different ways to define overthinking. One way is to think of it as “excessive or prolonged thought about a particular problem or situation.” Another way is to think of it as “ruminating on negative thoughts or worries.”
If you find yourself overthinking, then I’m glad you’re here. This article will give you some useful strategies on how to stop overthinking.
NOTE: If you are struggling with overthinking, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand why you overthink and develop strategies to manage it.
Why do we overthink?
There are many reasons why we overthink things. Largely, because life on planet earth is stressful right? So, we’re trying to think out way out of it!
We want to make the right decisions. We’re worried about what might happen. We’re trying to control the future.
And what I see a lot in my work and in myself is…. drum roll please: We’re trying to be perfect.
6 Strategies for How to Stop Overthinking
Do you want to calm the monkey mind? Me too!
Overthinking can be a problem when it prevents us from taking action or enjoying life. If you find yourself overthinking things and your monkey mind is too active, here are 5 things you can do.
- Think: I’m OK. I’m safe.
- Focus on the present moment.
- Accept that you can’t control everything.
- Love yourself.
- Take breaks from thinking.
- Talk to someone you trust.
1. Think: I’m OK. I’m safe.
These are my two favorite thoughts to instantly calm my monkey mind.
Because part of overthinking is that we don’t feel safe. We feel we’re in danger… even if subconsciously and unknowingly!
Shoot, who knows what’s happened to us that hasn’t quite registered yet. And think of all of the things that have happened that have hurt us.
So yea, we feel unsafe at times!
In those times we think and think and think… trying to find safe ground. So, use these thoughts as a mantra: I’m OK. I’m safe.
2. Focus on the present moment
When you’re overthinking, it’s easy to get caught up in the past or the future. In the past or future we’re NOT in the present moment.
The present moment is filled, literally filled, with so much to see, do, and imagine and there’s so much joy there.
To bring your mind into the present, try these techniques.
- Pay attention to your breath. One of the simplest ways to focus on the present moment is to pay attention to your breath. Simply focus on the feeling of your breath as it enters and leaves your body.
- Focus on your senses. Another way to focus on the present moment is to focus on your senses. Pay attention to what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. On my walks each day I notice the color of the sky, the leaves of the trees… on then my mind goes to my shopping list! So, I notice and bring my mind back to the present.
- Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature can help you to connect with the present moment and appreciate the beauty of the world around you.
- Do something you enjoy. When you’re doing something you enjoy, it’s easier to focus on the present moment and let go of worries about the past or future.
- Practice self-love. Here’s a blog post to help you practice loving self-talk.
3. Accept that you can’t control everything
Try thinking this: I accept that I can’t control everything. I can only control my own thoughts, words, and actions.
I choose to focus on the things I can control and let go of the things I can’t.
I can also choose to be grateful for the things I do have control over, and to appreciate the good in my life.
Remember, high-vibe thoughts don’t magically become true for you. So, practice and repetition is key.
4. Love yourself
Self-love helps us heal our lives. As we accept ourselves, forgive ourselves, and be kind to ourselves, we see the world differently. Here are some additional ways to practice loving kindness with yourself.
- Practice self compassion.
- Be mindful of your self-talk. Notice when you are being critical or harsh towards yourself, and challenge those thoughts.
- Do things that make you happy. Spend time with loved ones, pursue your hobbies, and take breaks when you need them.
- Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important to forgive yourself so you can move on.
Remember, being kind to yourself is a journey, not a destination. It takes time… and what better way to spend your time than having a closer relationship with your soul!
5. Take breaks from thinking
This might be at the top of the list… maybe I should move it? Eckhart Tolle would probably agree.
In A New Earth, Awakening to Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle writes about the ego, how the ego is of the mind, and it’s much ado about nothing! Meaning, the ego is not who we are. The ego is our attachment to things, situations, and thoughts.
So, it is important to take breaks from thinking from time to time, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Taking a break can help you to clear your head and come back to your work or tasks refreshed and ready to focus.
I’m a big fan of meditation. Jon Kabat Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go, There You Are is a great place to start. Meditation can help to focus your attention and clear your mind.
In addition to meditation, here are some ways to take a break from thinking.
- Be soulful. As a soul coach one of my favorite ways to retreat from thinking is to care for my soul.
- Go for a walk in nature. Spending time in nature can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Listen to music. Listening to calming music can help to relax your mind and body.
- Do some light stretching or yoga. Stretching and yoga can help to improve your flexibility and reduce stress.
- Naps rock. A short nap can help to improve your focus and concentration.
- Spend time with loved ones. Spending time with loved ones can help to improve your mood and reduce stress, unless they’re stressful people!
- Do something creative, like painting, drawing, or writing. Being creative can help to express your emotions and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
- Take a break from technology. Taking a break from technology can help you to relax and focus on the present moment.
- So nothing! Just sit and relax and stare at the wall! Allow yourself to clear your mind and enjoy the peace and quiet.
It is important to find activities that work for you and that you enjoy. Experiment with different activities until you find ones that help you to relax and take a break from thinking.
Hang up a big sign at your house that reminds you to relax. I have one!
6. Talk to someone you trust
Sometimes, talking to a friend, family member, or therapist can help you to process your thoughts and feelings.
Talking to someone can also help you to feel less alone and more supported. When we connect with another person whom we feel safe with, it helps us heal.
If you’re overthinking your relationship, this blog post How to Stop Overthinking in Your Relationship may help you.
If you’re still struggling to talk about something that you’re overthinking, you may want to consider seeking professional help. A therapist can provide you with a safe and supportive space to discuss your thoughts and feelings, and they can help you develop coping mechanisms for dealing with overthinking.
Additional Tips for How to Stop Overthinking
- Identify your triggers. What are the things that tend to make you overthink? Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to avoid them or develop coping mechanisms for dealing with them.
- Challenge your thoughts. When you find yourself overthinking, ask yourself if your thoughts are really true. This is the second thinking habit in my book, The Thought Store. Ask yourself if you’re blowing things out of proportion? Are you assuming the worst? Once you challenge your thoughts, you may realize that they’re not as realistic as you thought they were.
- Get enough sleep. When you’re well-rested, you’re better able to think clearly and manage your emotions. So, make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Take care of yourself. As cliche as it sounds, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and get enough sunlight. When we do these basics, we feel better:)
Again, if you’re struggling to stop overthinking, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist.
And, know that you’re not alone.
Overthinking tends to happen when we have some issues to work on. A therapist, counselor, or mentor can help you to identify and address the underlying causes of your overthinking and develop strategies for managing it.