“We all do our best to stay positive, but occasionally we can slip into negative thinking patterns that can wreak havoc on our lives. We might worry about our past mistakes or current stresses, and how these could lead to negative outcomes in the future. We might obsess about or over-analyze regular experiences and interactions, reading into them things that aren’t actually there. We might find that as soon as one bad thing happens, we associate it with all the other bad things that have happened in our lives and begin to feel miserable. We might feel anxious in the present, having a hard time getting out of our own heads as we worry and obsess about the things that could go wrong.” ~ Thinking Minds
If overthinking interferes with your general sense of wellbeing, here are a few tips to Take Back Control of Your Brain!
1. Understand “Normal”
The brain is actually hardwired to think out all the possible outcomes of a situation. Thanks to the decision-making frontal-lobe, we’ve evolved to think about our problems. But overthinking keeps the brain in an agitated cycle while dumping fight or flight chemicals into our blood system(Research shows that overthinking releases cortisol, the stress hormone, that will get you even more distressed).
2. Jot it down
When you notice your thoughts are recycling the same scenarios, taking a few deep breaths will help calm the brain down. Then put your thoughts on paper. By getting it “out of your head” and putting it in black and white on paper, you effectively short-circuit the brains need to remember! And looking at it, instead of thinking about it, you get a new perspective.
3. Practice mindfulness meditation
When we’re racked with too many thoughts, we feel over-stimulated. Mindfulness meditation can quickly calm you down, making it easier to make sound decisions. Try it now – close your eyes. Focus on the air moving in and out as you breathe. Tune into your tactile sensations: your weight on the seat, the feel of the fabric of your clothes, the warmth of the sun on your skin…. If thoughts arise, notice, and allow them to float on by….
4. Get moving
Changing your environment, walking, hiking, biking, getting the heart pumping, can loosen the closed-circuit cycle of relentless thinking. You don’t need to try to clear your mind – just let your thoughts roll through your head at their own pace.
5. Check your beliefs
Underlying all anxiety and all overthinking are a set of beliefs. Have you ever asked yourself where they came from? Or if you actually really believe them? For instance, most people are mortified by the thought of tripping or falling in public. Why??? “People who fall are idiots”. Hmm… I actually do NOT believe that. “People who fall are weak”. I don’t think that’s true either. But maybe being perceived as weak means you’ll need to be removed from the herd! Well, thanks to the frontal-lobe, I no longer need that instinctual response, so I can choose to dismiss it.
What a relief!