Want to learn how to stop overthinking? Sometimes, the greatest obstacle to your success and improvement is overthinking. Here are simple ways to help you stop it in its tracks.
In this article:
- Learn What Causes Overthinking
- Strategize Your Decision-Making Process
- Look at the Situation From an Outsider’s Perspective
- Focus on One Thing at a Time
- Take Short Breaks
- Practice Gratitude and Positivity
- Avoid Overthinking Before Doing Something
- Don’t Wait for the Situation to Be Perfect
- Have a Mindfulness Ritual or Item
How to Stop Overthinking Things and Become More Decisive
1. Learn What Causes Overthinking
Both your past and future can provide reasons for overthinking. This is when you keep dwelling on the past or get anxious about the future.
Here are some signs that you may be treading into the overthinking territory:
- You keep replaying your past failures. This can hold you back from moving on and making a change.
- You can’t stop worrying about the uncertainty of the future. You also feel like you’re not in control of what’s going to happen next.
If you find yourself falling into these traps, remind yourself of these two things:
- It’s natural to feel scared you’ll fail again, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. There’s always a 50/50 chance of failure and success, but this time around, you’ve learned from past mistakes and are a better version of yourself.
- Nobody has a crystal ball that shows them their future. Don’t let your fear of tomorrow prevent you from making the most of today.
2. Strategize Your Decision-Making Process
Not every decision requires a lot of thought, and with good reason. Your brainpower has a limit so you have to save it for the major decisions.
If you find yourself overthinking and unable to decide something, here are two strategies you can try:
- For minor decisions or those that won’t have a major impact on your life (e.g. which brand of milk to get), decide within 30 seconds to a minute. This is a good way to practice being decisive so you’ll get used to it.
- For major, life-changing decisions, or those that’ll have a big impact on your life in the short or long-term (e.g. career change), talk to somebody. Hearing the perspective of someone who’s not in the same dilemma can help you see other points and shorten your decision time.
3. Look at the Situation from an Outsider’s Perspective
When you’re knee-deep in an issue, your emotions can get the better of you. Since the problem is so close to you, your mind can lead you to think irrationally.
If you find yourself going around in circles, try to look at your situation from the perspective of an outsider. See the problem with clear, unbiased eyes.
Doing this can help you come up with solutions you may not have thought of when your judgment was clouded. It can also help you feel less negatively about your situation.
4. Focus on One Thing at a Time
When you multitask, you may find yourself struggling to work on something because your thoughts are with other responsibilities. This added pressure and nagging at the back of your head can lead to overthinking.
Learn to silence your thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. Finish one task first before worrying about another.
5. Take Short Breaks
When your brain is exhausted, your thoughts process may be hazy. During this time, you may find it harder to come to a decision and lead to overthinking.
By taking short breaks, you allow your body and mind to rest and recover. However, make sure you’re resting instead of procrastinating.
A productive way of taking a break is walking around outside. This can help you clear your head and sneak in physical activity, as well.
6. Practice Gratitude and Positivity
Sometimes, to learn how to stop overthinking, you have to start by saying thank you. This helps you spin your regrets into something more positive.
Here are some ways to integrate gratitude into your life:
- Start a gratitude list. Every day, find time to list down things that made you smile and you’re thankful for. When you’re feeling cynical and stuck in your decision-making, go over this list again to help you feel more positive and remind you of better times.
- When something negative happens to you or when you find yourself dwelling on a negative experience, try to find things to be grateful for in the situation. You can remind yourself that this experience taught you something that will help you avoid experiences like this in the future.
Positivity attracts positive things, while negativity can lead to overthinking. If you’re constantly overthinking, you’ll find it harder to make a decision or move on from a negative experience.
Trying to be more positive can help you move on from a situation faster, giving you fewer regrets to overthink later on. It can also help you become more decisive since you’re not constantly thinking about negative things, such as what could go wrong.
7. Avoid Overthinking Before Doing Something
Overthinking something before doing it can only end up in two ways: you either do it or not do it. The only difference is in how much time you take before making a decision.
Delaying it from happening won’t change anything. Before doing something, avoid falling into the trap of trying to predict and control everything.
Of course, in some cases, it’s wiser to think about something before actually doing it. Remind yourself that you don’t have all the time in the world, and once you’ve made a decision, stick to it.
8. Don’t Wait for the Situation to Be Perfect
Waiting for the situation to be perfect means only delays your decision-making and execution stages. By focusing on the reasons why you shouldn’t do something, you’ll lose time, and the opportunity may slip right out of your hands.
Rather than waiting for the situation to be perfect, make the best out of the situation. Adopt a mindset of acting and improving along the way rather than waiting and setting yourself up for impossible standards.
9. Have a Mindfulness Ritual or Item
If you’re having problems with overthinking, a mindfulness ritual or item will help. This can ground you and return your focus.
- An example of a mindfulness ritual is taking deep breaths when you find yourself overthinking. The shift of focus from thinking to breathing relaxes you and refreshes your mind, which can help you think better.
- A mindfulness item can be anything that reminds you to stay on track. For example, a stress ball can help you release tension
Overthinking may hinder you from achieving your goals and grabbing success. Learning how to stop overthinking may not be easy, but just take things one step at a time, and soon, you’ll find yourself becoming more decisive and overthinking less.
What are your other tips on how to stop overthinking? Share them with us in the comments section below.