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3 things to do to stop overthinking everything

2 May, 2021

What triggers your overthinking? 

I always find myself overthinking when I feel off-track with life when something doesn’t feel right or decide to shake up my business and start something new. If I start to think about my long-term goals, especially when I’m not feeling so good about myself, it triggers me to overthink the uncontrollable details. And I always overthink the decision to take on my next ultra-marathon or not. It’s exhausting!

I’ve learnt over the years how to stop these thoughts spiraling out of control and keeping me up all night. It’s also helped me calm the negative self-talk that comes up when I’ve spent too much time overthinking everything.

Now, life feels a lot calmer, and I have peace of mind that everything will be ok in the end. I stop worrying about the things I can’t control and see situations and challenges with more clarity and a more positive perspective.

Overthinking is something many women experience, and I share these tools with my coaching clients; it may make you feel better knowing you’re not alone in feeling this way. 

It isn’t about not being able to cope. It’s not that you need to get more organised or be more productive with your time. Overthinking is a thought pattern; it’s a habit and one you have complete control over. Use these 3 ways to stop your overthinking and use it as a step forward to recharging your life: 

1. Write it all down and take a mental break.

Yes, this seems far too simple, but by writing everything down, you can relax in knowing you’re not going to forget anything you’ve been worrying about. Writing it down will also help you gain some perspective on what’s going on. It provides some sort of order to your thoughts and can help you see where to start or what to stop thinking about. 

Once you’ve downloaded your thoughts onto the page, put it away and take a break. Do something to distract you and take your mind off those things. 10 minutes of reading a book, phone call with your friend, taking the dog for a walk, listening to a podcast, baking some bread, working out. Finding something that helps you switch off those thoughts and get you focusing on something else gives you a mental and emotional break and will help you revisit what you wrote down with more clarity and a positive perspective. 

2. Ask yourself, “What’s really going on?”. 

Self-coach and uncover what’s causing your overthinking. Consider what’s going on for you at the moment, has something changed? Is something coming up you’re not feeling ready for? Are you avoiding anything? Are you overly critical, or are you stuck and not sure why? Are you looking after yourself: sleep? Diet? Exercise? Boundaries? Often a mind on overdrive is a trigger for something deeper hiding underneath the surface that needs addressing.

Once you’ve spent 10-20 minutes or so journaling your answers, take out your highlighter and start to pick out what’s within your control and what isn’t in your control. This is a crucial part to stop overthinking – you need to let go of what’s out of your control. One way to do this is to hone in on the things you do have control over and move forward with these things in healthy and manageable ways. 

For example:

Worrying about what someone thinks about you is out of your control – you need to let go of this. 

Worrying about fixing your finances is within your control – you can focus on creating ways to improve your finances, it may not be easy, but it’s something you can take action on. 

If you hear yourself say these things, you can probably let it go: “What if….” “I should,” “She’ll think”… 

3. Visualize your glass and plastic balls

Clarity on your priorities will help you see what is worth spending time and energy on now, and it’s also going to help you stay focused on what’s important to YOU. 

A clever way to help you work out what’s a priority (overthinking makes everything feel like a priority) is to stop and visualize each task/ activity/ deadline/ commitment/ engagement… you’ve got going on in your life at the moment, in the shape of a large transparent ball. If it’s a current priority in your life, the ball will be made of glass, meaning you can’t ‘drop the ‘ball,’ as you won’t be able to put it back together again (it will have devastating consequences). All other balls will be made of plastic. They might be just as important, but these are the things you can ‘drop,’ but they won’t break on you; you’ll be able to pick them back up again once you’ve got fewer glass balls to hold.

Getting clear on your priorities and what’s within your control is a step towards slowing down, especially your thoughts. It’s like decluttering the mind; you know what to focus on, where to take action. This type of clarity brings peace of mind and a calmer approach to life.

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