Today is one of those days when I can’t seem to stop overthinking about the things that are bothering me. Even though it’s a beautiful day outside and the sun is shining, I’m in a rut. It started this morning when I found out I couldn’t reschedule a trip I had planned. This made me start thinking about the other things in my life that aren’t the way I’d like them to be. From there, I started obsessing about my future and where life is going for me. It went from bad to worse.
Since I’ve been practicing mindfulness for the last 10 years, I knew my overthinking was getting out of hand. Still, I couldn’t seem to turn it off. So, I did what I tell my clients and students to do. I took a walk and paid attention to the breeze, the sun and the trees, and the actual moment I was experiencing, instead of what’s going to happen 3 months from now. Overthinking is a thief who can steal our joy if we let it. Today, I thought I’d share with you 3 tips to ease your mind and help you stop overthinking.
Tip #1: It takes time to change our mental habits—be patient with yourself. Like many of my students and myself, our overthinking is so automatic that we have to practice interrupting these patterns. Be prepared to start small. For example, when overthinking is getting the best of you, stop and try to redirect your attention to something neutral or pleasant. Repeat your ABC’s or count backwards from 100. Anything that changes your focus will help you get unstuck.
Tip #2: Learn to direct your attention intentionally. Focus on your breath, your body, or your sensory experience in the present moment. The goal is to get out of your head and back into your life. Our thoughts become convincing because we repeat them over and over until we’re certain that this is how things are going to go. However, we can’t know what is going to happen until it does. Instead of living in the wreckage of the future, savor today.
Tip #3: Thoughts are NOT facts. No matter how much we overthink something and become convinced that it’s true, these thoughts are often not accurate. In fact, they’re usually not true. Instead, I tell my students and clients to base what they think on what actually happens to them. Research indicates that we spend 80% of our time worrying about the future and 20% of our time regretting the past. We need to learn to spend more time in the present moment, so we can stress less and live better.
Visit drdianesanford.com for more tips on how to control overthinking.
Here’s a funny (and relatable) video from Juggling The Jenkins on overthinking.