Stop wasting time and start to manage your overthinking

Overthinking is something many of us often do without consciously realising it. It can cause additional stress and anxiety; however it can be managed through some simple techniques.

What is overthinking?

Overthinking includes overanalysing decisions, worrying about the future, or social anxiety when you ask yourself why you said or acted a certain way. In essence, overthinking is when you ruminate about the past in a negative thought process that loops continuously in your mind.

How can I address my overthinking?

  1. The first step is self-awareness and the ability to recognise when you're overthinking. Knowing what triggers overthinking for you can help you to combat it. Make a note of these triggers.

  2. Shift your focus elsewhere and redirect your thinking, ideally to a positive place.

  3. Postpone or rescheduly worrying to a time when your resources are high. Avoid lying in bed and ruminating. If you find yourself doing this, get up and read. You don't want to make your bed a place of worry, as it will soon become an unwelcome habit.

  4. Write your worries down, either writing exactly what you're thinking or crafting a Pro and Cons list.

  5. Conduct a 'locus of control activity'. Locus of control refers to the extent to which we believe we can exercise some control over what happens in our lives. People with a strong internal locus of control believe they can influence events and outcomes and shape their lives. Those with an external locus of control believe they have little control over their lives as they believe outside forces are responsible for shaping their life. Ask yourself "What am I going to do about this?" and think less about matters beyond your control.

  6. Practice shifting your attention to the present moment. Using your senses is an effective way to do this. Focusing on what you can touch, see, hear, smell and taste will immediately bring you into the present.

  7. Learn to seperate yourself from your thoughts by completing a Cognitive Diffusion exercise. This involves looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts and noticing thoughts rather than becoming caught up in them. By letting thoughts come and go rather than holding on to them, you can switch from worry to gratefulness.

  8. Ask yourself the right questions - "Why do I think or feel the way I do?" and "What is one step that I could do to ease matters?"

  9. Objectively review your core values and your purpose. What are the things that really matter to you and what is really important?

  10. Find distractions, like resting, going for a walk or spending real time with a loved one. This suggestion is last on the list because it's only a short term fix. We have a greater ability to manage our overthinking than we think. Don't overthink it and give the above a go!

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services