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Getting Out of Overthinking

anxiety overthinking relief Apr 24, 2024

Would you be surprised to know that according to research, 57 percent of women and 43 percent of men are overthinkers? The good news is that, according to research at University of Michigan,  it does get better with time. “73 percent of 25-35 year-olds overthink compared to 52 percent of 45-55 year-olds and just 20 percent of 65-75 year-olds.” And the really good news is that it’s a habit and like any other habit, it can be dealt with. Today here are 5 strategies that can help.


Three Types of Overthinking

One thing you should know is that there are 3 types of overthinking. See which one relates most to you:


is like a loop in your mind where thoughts go to past events, and how they could have turned out better. "If only I… " There can be feelings of regret, guilt and playing the scene over and over. it's like getting stuck by  people’s negative comments… Like "I woulda, coulda, shoulda" which leads nowhere… but paralyzes future decision-making and action.


Schedule worry time – a time when you delve into all the worries and concerns. But give it a cap, maybe 15 or 30 minutes. Then you can journal about what's on your mind, or vent to a friend to get it out. Choose a time, choose a spot. Another good exercise is to create 2 columns for the worries: those you can control, and those that are not in your control.

For those in your control, jot down what steps will you take – like for meeting a deadline. For worries not in your control – imagine putting them in a little boat, and watching them float down the river.


2.Future Tripping

This type of overthinking involves worrying about the future, trying to control everything you can, and being prepared in case some other person doesn’t do their part. The feeling is that there’s always more to do, and always something that could fall into the cracks. It’s hard to celebrate your successes, because again, there’s always more that could go wrong. It’s stifling. 


Picture yourself 5 years from now, when your future self is successful and calm. This thing that you’re so worried about now is just one of so many projects you’ve had experienced and will experienced.  In retrospect, some went great, others you made some mistakes, but it wasn’t the end of the world.  In fact you  learned so much. This is called "temporal distancing" and it give you perspective. So does limiting your exposure to doomsday people and all the negative scenarios in the news. Curate what you take in.


3. Overanalyzing

This one shows up as procrastination and getting lots of other people’s opinions instead of trusting your own. Also, that stops you from making a decision and it becomes hard to know what to prioritize as all the list of “stuff” can pile up. You can feel all over the place.


1.Remember the quote – “Done is better than perfect.” And give yourself a maximum of 3 criteria to decide. Some examples: Does this fit my values, align with my strengths, do I have enough time to get it done, at what cost, does it give me energy or take it away?


5 Tips to Get You Back on Track:


1.Ditch perfectionism and the critic’s voice. Remind yourself it’s not black or white – perfect or a total catastrophe. We’re human, life IS messy – results are usually a mixture of good as well as things to learn, and that’s OK.


2.Get physical, go for a walk, work out. Move your body to take a break from your mind.


3.Challenge your thoughts. Thoughts are fleeting , they are not facts.

The work of Byron Katie is great for this.There are 4 questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true… all the time?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?


4. Use the 4-7-8 breath

This is from Dr Andrew Weil, it takes no time, and it’s very effective.  Inhale for 4, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. This is so powerful you only want to do a maximum of 4.


5. Speak to a therapist if you feel totally trapped It doesn’t have to be this way. Interview a few people to find someone you connect with.


Most of all, it's helpful to just notice when the overthinking starts to arise, and before it gets too deep, use one of these tools. You have more influence than you know.






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