Thinking things through is sensible. But thinking things through over and over and over until you've sunk your brain into a hole that you can't climb out of is not productive or good for your wellbeing. If you have too many tabs open or are holding on to too many things without taking action, it will only add to your stress. Sometimes thinking about doing something can be more exhausting than actually doing it.
Putting a stop to overthinking it isn't a simple skill. Sometimes giving into your thoughts is easier than pushing back – it’s a comfortable feeling like sinking into the couch after a long day.
As your mind spits out hundreds of thoughts a day, you can’t predict what will pop into your head but you do have the power to change how you think and act. Thinking in a more helpful and realistic way encourages you to make better choices and helps to put things in perspective – no matter your situation.
You can’t totally avoid overwhelming or very stressful situations. But there are some ways to help you to focus your thoughts on getting things done:
Widen your perspective
Try to catch yourself if you’re over-thinking or having unhelpful thoughts – and challenge them. Put things into perspective by thinking about things that help you achieve your tasks rather than focusing on the obstacles that might get in your way.
Look at the task and ask yourself: ‘Honestly, what is the worst that could happen?’ This simple question can help you to quickly snap out of it, let go of the situation and focus your time and energy on something that actually matters to you.
Reconnect with the present moment
If you find yourself getting lost in overthinking, disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself: “Hold up”! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. If you’re in a comfortable space, try a guided meditation to help your mind to stop wandering and to bring your focus back.
Make a list
Decide exactly what needs to be done and in what order. Then make a list of those things and the steps you need to take to tick them off. What can you do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving what needs to be done? Whatever pops into your head, accept it and act on it immediately. Checking something off your to-do list will give you a sense of progress, engagement, fulfilment, and accomplishment.
Most things on your to-do list won’t be done. Every time you put something off, it’s put into a queue. Take them off your list or maintain the healthy habit of doing something about them every day.
Being overwhelmed with many things to do and few deadlines usually means nothing will get done. Make a decision; try not to change your mind or go back on yourself (after talking to your friends, your spiritual guide, your intuition and the internet).
Set short time-limits for decisions. Small decisions like hanging the washing out or responding to an email: give yourself 60 seconds or less. Larger decisions that would usually take you days or weeks to think through: use a deadline for 60 minutes or for the end of the day.Remember you can’t control everything; it’s impossible to predict the future and knowing exactly what will happen can rob you of the amazing opportunities. Action is the greatest gift that only you can give to yourself, so stop over-thinking and get stuff done!
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