How to Reduce Overthinking and Feel Less Anxious
We all have an inclination to overthink from time to time, but, unfortunately, it’s a habit we can easily pick up. In particular, those with anxiety or high levels of trait neuroticism, will struggle with this.
Here are some straightforward tips to help reduce overthinking, thus restoring some control over your anxious thoughts.
The Trap of Overthinking
Those who have experienced racing thoughts know how difficult it is to control them and put them at rest. These types of thought patterns often start out as relatively benign but, as the pace picks up, the themes often turn darker and can quickly become catastrophic.
It’s the catastrophic thoughts that the mind fixates on…that’s the trap of overthinking.
Your first line of defence against this and, to some extent anxiety, is the ability to recognise when you’ve fallen into the trap of overthinking. This may sound straightforward, simplistic even, but it’s an incredibly powerful practice which takes work.
Observe, Don’t Engage
If you can recognise or detect the signs that you are overthinking, you have taken an important step towards unlocking the trap.
From this point on, you can start regaining control.
When you notice you’re slipping into overthinking, make a decision that you’re not going to engage with those thoughts. Instead, try to picture your thoughts as clouds floating by ☁️
By not engaging and choosing to let the clouds swirl up and out of your head, you can start to observe them as they pass.
As you continue to practice this technique, you’ll notice that your level of anxiety begins to improve and those periods of overthinking happen less frequently.
Recognise the trap. Allow thoughts to exist without fixating, choosing instead to observe passively. Then let those thoughts go…
In bringing this piece to an end, I want to leave you with a question.
Has any of your repetitive overthinking benefitted you?
To word that in another way…
Have any of the thoughts you’ve been ruminating on, or catastrophising over, ever come to anything?
I suspect the answer is no.
You already know it, but I’ll say it again now – there is often very little value in overthinking, it’s just a habitual pattern of thought.
Things can feel overwhelming at times, especially right now, but these techniques should help make your stress more manageable and bring a sense of calm to your daily life.
If you want further support around your happiness and well-being, you can find my book Ten Times Happier here.
If you want to explore slowing down and feeling grounded, you can find my book Ten to Zen here.
Take care, look after yourself and I’ll speak to you soon.