As a chronic overthinker, this topic hits very close to home. I can’t say that I always follow these suggestions, but I can at least share what tips and tricks I use to cope with my overactive brain.
What Causes Overthinking
At its simplest, overthinking can be caused by stress or the inability to have control over a situation. Stress is fueled by the need to be perfect at home, perfect at work, and perfect in your free time. Pressure to constantly be as accomplished as those around you can make you feel crazy. Recognizing that this stress leads to other bad habits is an important realization. Taking that first deep breath can make room for a clearer headspace.
Having a full schedule isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be one of the things in your life that leads to overthinking. When I have too much on my plate, I feel like my head is spinning and I can’t remember everything I’m supposed to do. I hold onto a project longer than necessary and I ruminate on it for far too long. To prevent that feeling of spinning gout, I like to make lists of everything that comes to mind. When thoughts interrupt my work flow, I can just jot it down onto the list and keep going. If I end up with multiple, categorized lists, then that’s fine. As long as I can look at one and make a plan for myself.
The thing that I have found causes most of my overthinking is self-doubt. I tend to make the assumption that even when I think I’m done, I probably missed something. I doubt my own abilities and a lot of the time, my worth. When it rains it pours, and when one mistake shows up, it’s never alone. It starts to feel like a vicious cycle, but knowing that my frustration will only make it worse is what grounds me. Taking a moment to acknowledge all the things that I messed up on and refocusing my mind keeps me moving forward. Take a deep breath, make a list, and refocus.
Tips and Tricks
- Focus on Problem-Solving: Identify your problem, then work towards solving it. If you really focus in on the kind of solution you need, you’ll be too focused to worry about anything else.
- Reflect Inward: This tip sounds cheesy, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to think about when and why you are getting stressed. Once you know what the cause of your problems are, you have a place to start! And, you’ve validated your feelings.
- Take Deep Breaths: Don’t forget to breathe! Focusing too hard on a task is not healthy. Practice finding good stopping points and taking a few deep breaths.
- Slow Down: One of the most important things I had to learn was that it’s okay to slow down at work. Not everything needs to be done right this second and your work can actually benefit from taking your time and being more thorough. Be mindful of the things you’re doing! Getting work done isn’t a race, it’s just work that needs done!
This post was strongly inspired by The Muse article, “6 Easy Ways to Stop Overthinking Every Little Thing (and Just Enjoy Your Life).”
If you’re feeling stuck in your pursuit to quit overthinking, check out our blog post, “New Years Resolutions,” for more tips and trick on setting goals! Also, take a look at January’s product of the month.