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How To Stop Overthinking and Find Peace of Mind: Practical Tips

Updated: 4 days ago

At times, it may seem like too many mental tabs are open, which can make calming the mind challenging.

Many different things are going on in our lives that require our attention. For example, choosing a prospective mate, getting married, where and what to eat, exercising at home or joining a gym, financial freedom, the future, changing careers, or where to live. Some examples seem trivial, but for some of us, these are the things that keep us up at night.

The list of other things we overthink about is even longer. Some things seemingly require immediate attention and thorough consideration; others could wait. However, we think about some topics excessively, making it difficult to focus on anything else.

Overthinking is not always random; many of us constantly overthink things, seeking the perfect decision or closure on an issue, but for others, overthinking is infrequent. Those who infrequently overthink things may have a master strategy that helps them move on quickly. The master strategy may include recognizing the impact of statements that begin with:

  • What if

  • I will never

  • I always

  • I should have

  • I Could have

Usually, we can connect statements that begin with the above phrases to our tendency to use negative self-talk. This type of self-talk makes it challenging to quiet the inner critic, and we start the spiral of questioning everything. When we ask questions, it should be to gain a new perspective, not to unravel all we have done.

Our inner critic will have us talking about how badly we are doing and, even worse, complaining to ourselves. When we complain to ourselves, the overthinking escalates because, let's be clear, where will the answer come from? Certainly not from us when we are busy lamenting our faults.

Consequently, we become paralyzed by our thinking. Therefore, we struggle to take action or make decisions that can quiet our inner critic, our tendency to worry, or when our overthinking is associated with our pursuit of perfection.

We can identify our overthinking not only by the phrases we use to begin our sentences but also when we:

  • Use cognitive distortions such as all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, or overgeneralizing.

  • Continue to think about things for which we already have a solution. 

  • We spend time fighting our thoughts.

  • We are preoccupied with negative experiences from our past.

  • You are thinking of worst-case scenarios rather than your progress toward a goal.

  • You are replaying in your mind things that are outside your control.

  • You second-guess your decisions, thinking there is a better one to make.


Tips to stop overthinking:

  • Practice reframing your "what ifs." Since "what ifs" are usually framed in worst-case scenarios, for instance, "What if I do not get admitted to my preferred college?" Practice concluding with "Then I will do." You will apply to your other options if you are not admitted to your preferred college.

  • Challenge your irrational thoughts with rational counterstatements.

  • Overthinking can become a source of stress. For example, if you have a goal you want to achieve and are struggling to get started, break the goal down into tasks.

  • Use healthy distractions that shift you from thinking to action.

  • Practice the "now" or "later" rule. Simplify things and address your more immediate thoughts.

  • Of course, you can also see a therapist to work on an individualized treatment plan.

Arresting our overthinking is more than learning to think positively. It is the recognition that most of our actions and decisions may need adjustments as we go along. Furthermore, accept that things will sometimes go wrong, and they will.

Empowering Minds. Inspiring Lives.

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