Are you a serious overthinker? I am, and it is a terrible attribute. It’s like having an incessant chatter bug obsessively repeating things in your head. Having ADHD doesn’t help. So when I came across an online conversation about it, I read it and took notes. Here are their recommendations to help you stop overthinking.
Meditation often comes up in the forum as an effective way to mitigate overthinking. An avid believer clarifies, “Don’t worry about perfect posture, perfect clear head, etc. Simply sit comfortably for about 15 minutes and focus on your breath. If your mind is really racing, count by twos from 0-20 and then back down. (2, 4, 6…20, 18, 16, 14) Alternate between evens and odds if you like.” Another adds, “Meditation saved me from hypothetical shower arguments.” OK, that sounds enticing.
2. Writing Your Thoughts Down
There are numerous ways to get your thoughts out on paper. Be it journaling, making lists, or writing poetry. Writing your thoughts out helps you to make sense of them. One person explains that overthinking for them is typically thinking the same thoughts repeatedly in a useless cycle. Unfortunately, this is so relatable. However, I can attest that journaling is a great way to release your thoughts, organize them, and keep them someplace besides on a constant loop in your head.
3. Get Busy
Countless individuals agree that when you begin to overthink things, the best defense is to get busy. Making yourself busy distracts you away from being able to obsess. Nevertheless, one states, “What’s important is making sure you give time to think through the issue properly. For example, taking a walk or doing chores that don’t require much brainpower. You think better when your body is busy with a simple errand, and your brain is free to wander.”
4. Read a Book
Similarly, many swear by distracting yourself with a good book versus walking or doing chores. Do you enjoy getting lost in a story? There have been many times that a book has pulled me and completely consumed my mind. So this method of overthinking something makes perfect sense.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is another method of gaining control of your thoughts. Have you ever engaged in its practice? A user denotes that the most important part of mindfulness is being aware of the thoughts and acknowledging them “Without going down the rabbit hole of trying to logic it out.”
Why does exercising have to be the solution for everything? Haha, but in all seriousness, several overthinkers admit that exercising has been the most effective way to gain control. Outdoor activities that combine the element of nature are preferred in this thread, with exercises, including biking, hiking, swimming, rowing, and running.
7. Double Breathing
Have you heard of taking double breaths before? Someone instructs it’s when you inhale normally like you usually do and then inhale once again. “You’ll realize we don’t use our lungs to their full capacity…now keep it in for two to three seconds and slowly exhale…repeat it a couple of times, and you’ll find yourself more calm, relaxed, and less anxious.”
8. Stop Moving Your Eyes
Another person suggests staring straight without moving your eyes: “Overrides part of your limbic system and brain responsible for overthinking. Found this out last year, and it has been a game-changer for ADHD. Try it next time you are overthinking. Pay attention to how much you move your eyes when overthinking and then stop moving them, and the thoughts stop. Blew my mind.”
9. Adopting an “It Is What It Is” Mindset
Hmmm, is this one easier said than done? According to many in the thread, you can get there. Others state it isn’t that easy before one explains that no one said it would be easy, but it’s possible. Nonetheless, several agree with one who shares, “I am constantly saying, ‘It is what it is’ in the hopes that someday I will actually understand and feel that way.”
10. Embrace Your Overthinking With Care
This may be the most insightful response from the thread. A forum member writes, “Embracing overthinking with care. Admit to yourself that you are an overthinker, and be ready to forgive yourself for these over thoughts. After all, sometimes you can’t stop!
And worrying about overthinking can cause more spiraling. It’s healthy to learn how to live with yourself, and the best way I know how to do this is by understanding your overthinking as best you can through introspection. The better you can recognize and understand your thoughts, the better you’ll be able to sort out the truth from insecurity in your mind.”
This user also offered helpful questions to ask yourself:
- How do I feel when I overthink?
- What are my insecurities, and how have they affected my overthinking in the past?
- What did I believe about this topic before I started overthinking it, and do I have any solid reasons for believing what I think now?
- What do I know for 100%, and what am I just speculating about?
- After 24 hours, do I believe I’ll still be worried about this?
11. Taking L-Theanine Supplements
Did you know you can take an amino acid called L-theanine as a supplement that helps promote relaxation in your mind? Someone says, “L-theanine is produced naturally in your brain, and its function is (in simple terms) to attach to receptors in your brain related to excitement to prevent L-glutamine from attaching. You’re supposed to have a fight or flight response when stressed naturally, but not all the time.”
Many forum members confess that therapy is a game-changer for dealing with overthinking. Specifically, engaging in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) practices. “Everyone is different, so different therapies will have to be tried until you find one that works for you. Don’t give up after the first attempt.”
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.