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How to Stop Overthinking

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When you can’t stop thinking about something, no matter how hard you try, you might start feeling sad, anxious, and stressed out. This constant inner monologue can also reduce your creativity and strip you of your power to make decisions. 5-Minute Crafts is ready to help you get rid of your negative patterns and stop overthinking.

❗ If you feel that you’re stuck and your overthinking is significantly affecting your life, try talking to a therapist.

1. Get rid of your triggers.

✅ Notice the specific times during the day when you tend to overthink. For example, you may start ruminating in the shower, when driving home from work, or at any other time when you’re left alone with your thoughts.

✅ Then create a plan on how you can stop this overthinking. For example, you can set a timer for 4 minutes when taking a shower in order not to spend a lot of time in your bathroom. When driving a car, you can listen to an engaging podcast to distract yourself. If you use this approach, you won’t have enough time to get lost in your thoughts.

2. Turn your negative feelings into positive ones.

Use a notebook to keep record of situations that give you anxiety, your different moods, and the first thought that comes to your mind. For example, if you’re afraid to take responsibility for a new project at work, write down something like, “I feel anxious and I’m sure that I don’t have the right skills to do it,” and your first thought might be, “This is going to be an epic failure.”

✅ Then evaluate why these situations cause negative thoughts.

✅ Write down the emotions you’re experiencing in these situations along with your bodily responses. Then identify your thoughts about them. For example, you can write, “My hands start shaking when I think about my new responsibilities,” and add, “I believe all of my efforts will be in vain.”

✅ After that, try to find an alternative to your original thought. For example, if it was something like, “This is going to be an epic failure,” you can turn it into the phrase, “I’m really trying my best.”

3. Distance yourself from your thoughts.

Label each thought that’s running through your head as thoughts and feelings. For example, instead of saying, “I’m inadequate,” as an affirmation, you should say, “I feel like I’m inadequate.” This will help you to recognize the absurdity of some of your reactions and take them less seriously.

4. Give yourself some time to think.

✅ Include about 20 minutes of “thinking time” into your ordinary daily schedule to reflect on your problems.

✅ During this time, let yourself worry, ruminate, mull over things, think about how you can do them differently, and feel whatever you want.

✅ When the time is up, move on to a more productive task.

✅ Every time you start overthinking outside of your scheduled time, remind yourself that you can think about it later.

5. Remember your accomplishments.

✅ When you start overthinking, take a notebook and write down 5 things that have gone right over the previous week and what role you played in making them happen. They don’t necessarily have to be huge things. Perhaps you washed your car, managed to stay within your budget, or finally took your coat to the dry cleaner.

✅ When you look at the list you’ve made, you’ll feel better and get a sense of accomplishment.

6. Distract yourself.

✅ Make a list of possible activities that can help you to distract yourself from overthinking. They should be engaging and positive. For example, you can talk to a friend, watch a movie, exercise, play a computer game, listen to music, read a book, paint, try a new recipe, meditate, or practice yoga.

✅ Every time you start thinking too much about something, turn to this list and find an activity to shut down any overthinking.

7. Do a nice thing for someone else.

✅ If you know a person who’s going through a difficult time, try to help them. For example, you can babysit your friend’s child, pick up groceries for your neighbor, or just give some flowers to your mom for no reason. The feeling that you’ve made someone’s day better will keep negative thoughts at bay.

8. Do a breathing exercise.

✅ Sit down in a comfortable place, relax your neck and shoulders, and close your eyes.

✅ Place one hand over your heart and the other on your belly.

✅ Slowly take a deep breath in through your nose and then exhale through the nose as well. Pay attention to how your chest and stomach move as you breathe.

✅ Do this breathing exercise for 5 minutes.

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