Do you stress out due to “overthinking”?

Do you overthink or have an inner critical dialogue or “loop” that plays on your mind from time to time or even frequently?

A common occurrence for introverts – because we spend a good amount of time inside our minds – is overthinking.

Unchecked, at its worst, it can even lead to an anxiety attack.

These internal loops of analysis can have you losing perspective quickly on how things truly are and how situations may or may not turn out.

How do you know if you are starting to overthink?

Consider the following:

If you indulge in replaying past mistakes in your mind which trigger past negative emotions or you notice negative self-talk, you may be overthinking.

If you are dwelling on future “what if” scenarios and begin “catastrophizing”, you may be overthinking.

Imagining the worst case scenario won’t help you create the best case scenario. It will just increase anxiety.

If you struggle to stay present and enjoy the moment due to nagging worry and preoccupation with what might happen or what has already happened, you may be overthinking.

If you have trouble sleeping, you may be overthinking.

Replaying your day and ruminating over what could’ve been different doesn’t help most people drift off to a peaceful slumber.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep can also amplify anxiety and it can be a vicious cycle.

It’s hard to gain a solid perspective when you are tired.

If this is you, become aware of it and do what you can to interrupt these patterns.

You are not your negative thoughts and there are ways that you can avoid the traps of overthinking and rumination.

  1. Become more self-aware. As introverts who love our solitude and quiet time, we are prone to having so many thoughts come to mind.

    Be an observer of yourself in these moments and notice if you are on the verge of overthinking and overanalyzing.

    Be a witness to the flow of your thoughts. Let them go without reaction or resistance.

    Remain curious as to how these thoughts come to you and what may have triggered them.
  2. Consider what can go right. Fear usually triggers overthinking – fear of change, fear of loss, or the fear of not being good enough, or not measuring up.

    When you recognize your thoughts heading in a negative direction, interrupt them and focus on how you would prefer to feel.

    Consider what can go right instead of what can go wrong.

    It may not be easy at first, but visualizing all the positive things that can happen will help you attain more peace of mind.
  3. Engage in healthy distractions. Make a habit of switching your state of mind and the corresponding emotion to avoid spiraling into overthinking.

    Once you recognize the signs of overanalyzing, do something productive to immediately change your state of mind.

    Drawing, journaling, hiking, going to the gym, listening to uplifting or inspirational podcasts, calling a trusted friend, or learning something new in order to distract yourself from these initial thoughts can begin to break the pattern.

    Channel your thoughts toward healthy and creative distractions instead of giving in to futile rumination.
  4. Put things into perspective. A good friend of mine years ago once told me that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I was initially offended, but I heard his message and began to pay attention.

    Answer this question for yourself if, and when you are about to make a mountain out of a molehill: “In the next month or in five years, will this still matter?” This question can help to shut down your overthinking and provide you with the bigger picture at play.

    Imagine yourself flying overhead at 30,000 feet and looking down at the situation. Can you grasp a bigger picture with more perspective? How important is it really?

    Realize that it’s best to stay present and just do the best that you can right now. Trust the process and lean into the current moment.

    Try to stay out of the past and the future especially when feeling vulnerable.
  5. Progress, not perfection. Perfection is a myth. Aiming for perfection takes you down the path of analysis paralysis and can prevent your ideas or projects from launching and flourishing.

    Striving for perfection is impractical, unrealistic, and debilitating.

    Instead, strive for excellence, and leave it at that.

    Be ambitious. Stay focused. Work diligently. Remember that making progress is much more effective than trying to be perfect.

    Do and accept your best. The rest will follow.

  6. Practice gratitude. Recognizing and appreciating what we have creates a powerful shift in mindset.

    Acknowledging and saying “thank you” for each and every blessing that you experience is an antidote to overthinking.

    Consider making it a habit to reflect, write down, and focus on three things that you’re grateful for at the end of each day.

    This will allow you to end your day on a positive note and drift off to sleep more relaxed than you otherwise might have been.

    I hope you’ll give these ideas a try and have a calm, productive, and peaceful week.