How to Stop Overthinking
Do you ever feel like nothing is ever simple?
Overthinking can feel like such a burden. It makes it difficult to relax and enjoy life. You lie awake at night analysing all the details of your date or stressing about all the ways tomorrow’s presentation might go wrong. It’s hard to make decisions. There’s always a “what if” factor ready to ruin your evening. We may even overthink about how to stop overthinking!
All of us overthink sometimes. But it becomes a problem when you can’t seem to stop. And if you live in London, you might even assume that all that contemplation is a normal part of your big city life. You might even convince yourself that thinking so much is useful. Well, research has shown that’s not really the case.
But before you get too worried, take a deep breath and read on to learn more!
I promise, there is a solution!
What Is Overthinking?
Simply put, it’s when you think about something for too long or in too much detail. Often to the point where it becomes counterproductive.
Overthinking can look like problem-solving, but the big difference is that it’s problem-oriented instead of solution-oriented. When you’re overthinking, you’re not really focused on how you can solve a problem.
It’s hard for overthinkers to leave their work behind when they get home. They think about it even when they’re trying to watch a movie or hang out with friends. Working late and overcorrecting is common. This makes it almost impossible to ever truly relax. Oh, and their relationships often suffer because of it. If they stay on this road for long enough, burnout might come knocking on their door.
Thinking Traps and How to Recognize Them
There are certain kinds of thoughts or even patterns of thought that suck us into feeling anxious. We call them thinking traps. It’s important that we become aware of them so that we can free ourselves from them.
Can you find a thinking trap that you tend to fall into?
- Black and white thinking - you tend to think in extremes. You make one mistake, and you fear you’ll get fired. You go on one date, it doesn’t go well, and you think about how nobody likes you. You rarely consider all the “grey” options that are much more likely to happen.
- Catastrophising - your mind always shows you worst-case scenarios. You fail one job interview, and your brain tells you that you’ll never get a job and you’ll die on the streets, homeless.
- Overestimating - you believe that bad things are much more likely to happen than they really are. “If I go travelling, someone will kidnap me.”
- Fortune telling - your brain convinces you that it can predict the future. “I failed my last job interview, so I’m bound to fail the next one.”
- Overgeneralising - you draw general conclusions based on 1 or 2 experiences. 1 man cheats on you, so you conclude that all men are trash.
- Mind reading - you’re convinced you know what others are thinking even though you have no real evidence. And it’s always negative. “I just know she hates me.”
- Negative bias - you often think only about the negative side of things. You dwell on the 1 question that you got wrong and ignore all the others that you aced.
How to Stop Overthinking?
Overthinking is a habit of the mind.
Luckily, scientists have been working hard to understand our brain better and what they’ve discovered is something called neuroplasticity. It’s the brain's ability to change and adapt throughout life when exposed to different experiences. This means that the brain can rewire itself! So, if you’ve been stuck with overthinking for a long time, that doesn’t mean that you have to stay stuck for the rest of your life. You can make new habits for your mind!
And how do we do that? Through repetition. Habits are created when we do the same thing over and over again, until we start doing it without even thinking about it. It’s the brain’s shortcut to efficiency. So, to dismantle old habits and build new ones, we need to be persistent over a period of time.
Here’s a 3 step process for breaking overthinking. But remember, it’s not a one time deal. It’s rinse and repeat!
1. Notice you’re doing it
The first step is recognising when you’re overthinking. This may take some practice, but you can use the above list of thinking traps to help you out. A good therapist can also help you learn this.
Knowledge is power. When you know what you’re dealing with, you can take the necessary steps to make it better. If you’re just starting out, you won’t be able to catch yourself every time you do it. This is normal. It’s important not to judge yourself. Celebrate every time you do notice your mind is going in loops. It really is a win!
2. Redirect thinking
Once you catch yourself going around in circles, a great tactic is to deliberately focus your attention in a different direction. Just think of something else!
What I like to do most is to think of 3 things I’m grateful for. Since most of our overthinking is negative, I find that reminding myself of all the good things in life helps calm me down. When I aim my focus on everything that’s going well, I break my cycle of excessive worrying. This also helps me see that I’m more capable than I think. It’s easier to tell myself that everything is going to be okay and really believe it.
3. Look for opportunities
If something bad or unpleasant happened and you can’t stop stressing about it, try thinking about what you can learn from it. Ask yourself: “How can I grow from this situation?” Maybe there are some opportunities lurking behind a seemingly awkward conversation. Can you find them?
People who make few mistakes (if there are any) are the people who previously made many! But they found a way to learn from them. How can you use your mistakes to expand your knowledge, experience, connections? When you ask these questions, you become solution-oriented.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy in London for Overthinking
The safest path to any healing is always alongside a professional. If you’re still wondering how to stop overthinking and relax, then hiring a certified hypnotherapist in London might be a choice to consider!
Cognitive hypnotherapy has all the right tools for identifying the negative thinking patterns that keep you stuck in a loop. Your hypnotherapist will create a safe space for you to explore the ways of your mind; they can gently guide you through difficult emotions and help you challenge your negative reasoning.
It’s important to understand that most of our overthinking patterns didn’t appear accidentally. Something caused them. We oftentimes have negative beliefs about ourselves that make it so damn easy to fall into our thinking traps. That’s why discovering the root cause can be a challenging but very effective shortcut to healing. Because it focuses on the subconscious parts of your mind, hypnotherapy can be your path to a life less stressful. So, take advantage of living in a big city and consider trying hypnotherapy in London.