Overthinking is Simply a Thinking Habit
There are many ways we tend to overthink, ruminating about the past — anxiously worrying about a future event or scenario over and over in our head. But, of course, overthinking can be about the present too. Ever dwell or ruminate about your personality, current relationships, or job?
Overthinking causes a sense of unhappiness.
Focusing on the past can leave you missing out on the current moment. For instance, if it's your birthday and your friends throw you a surprise birthday party, but you're lost in thoughts about something you said days prior, are you deeply enjoying the moment, or are you missing out on creating new memories?
Learning how to navigate your thoughts in a healthy, productive way with small things will enable you to cope with and navigate the more significant events in your life.
Overthinking is simply a thinking habit.
We don't set out to lay in bed and stay up, ruminating. But in order to overcome overthinking, help is needed. We all need people in our lives to remind us that we are normal, not alone, not weird, or that there's something wrong with us. Overthinking is relatively common but easily remedied.
Has anyone told you that you overthink a lot?
This is your sign to make some changes in your life. It's a lifeline! I got that message from my daughter years ago, years before doing anything about it, don't do what I did and wait. She said to me, "mom you're like a shark; you keep swimming and can't stop, or you will die" She wasn't wrong; I was sped up and not present for a good portion of her childhood (regret). I was deep in a state of overthinking about the future, looking for any and all obstacles and processing in my mind all 100 ways to beat or overcome each one.
Overthinking can lead to so many health issues, including depression, poor sleep, heart issues, anxiety, eating disorders, increased cortisol, hard on your thyroid, substance use, lower immunity, and so many other problems. I will stop at these, you get the idea. If you don't learn how to overcome your overthinking habit, it dramatically alters the quality of your life in many ways.
Repetitive, unproductive thought is a big issue for most people. If you're reading this and thinking there's something wrong with you, there's not you're average, but there's a much lighter, free-er way of being. The ability to think is one of our greatest gifts as human beings, but we aren't human doing. Overthinkers are often sped up and not thoroughly enjoying life's richness and beauty. Our brains are complex but very simple. In coaching, I get told repeatedly that what I point to, the understanding I present to each client in sessions, is so simple it's almost too simple. The key is consistently implementing and seeing in real-time, their own life, how overthinking isn't necessary.
You might have the impression that worrying shows that you care about something, or stressing out prepares you for the worst outcome. But, unfortunately, all this does is establish the basis of a low state of mind and a thinking habit. It justifies the belief that it does some good, but that's not true.
Other ways we can get in the habit of overthinking
- Complaining, for instance, about your job or relationships.
- Venting or dumping on other people.
- Taking everything personally.
- Believing that you've done something wrong around every corner.
- Feeling responsible for things outside of your control.
- Creating meaning out of every situation.
- Stressing out about a never-ending to-do list.
Alternative options, perspectives or ways of being.
- Things are challenging right now, but everything works out, it always does.
- Everyone's reality is different. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.
- Complaining won't change things, so I choose to accept things as they are.
- I choose not to share my "problems" with others; instead, we share experiences.
- Instead of believing everything is a personal attack, I seek to understand other's perspectives.
- I focus on what is within my control and conserve my energy for things that I love to do.
- I live in the moment, how I want to feel and what leads to my inner peace.
- Create a daily to-do list that's easily achievable.
Turn up your gratitude.
What are some ways that have increased gratitude in the past?
I was in a place at one point in my life I thought I might be wheelchair-bound. Though this event was eye-opening, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else, it opened my eyes to what gratefulness is. We can easily get sucked into the drama circle of life and forget that having full function of our body, pain-free as well, is a gift. Seeing that life is really precious, gratefulness is in the itty bitty things in life. Small things that make our day. It can be from waking up in the morning to the random bug you see during the day that's simply trying to survive. Another way is serving others less fortunate. I find community service to be very gratifying.
I believe that working out has many benefits, and working out doesn't have to be in a gym setting. It can be any physical activity that you enjoy. Keyword "enjoy" the reason being is when you're focused on that physical activity, you're in a meditative state. You're focused on your body, focused inside out. So often, when in a deep state of overthinking, a person is focused on the outside in. In my Coaching practice, a foundation for how I work with clients is profoundly understanding how to operate from the inside out.
Meditation, connecting to your body.
Meditation is great, too, but it's not for everyone. If you're open and curious about it, give it a try. There's loads of free content out there for gilded meditations. For me, just a couple of minutes does the trick. I can easily drift into a state of calm. This does take practice and knowing what style works best for you. I like to just simply work from my toes up to the top of my head, nudging each part of my body to be connected to the floor or wherever I am and melt (loosen) super duper simple.
Journaling or writing is a great way to get things out of your head and on paper. Some clients love to doodle and make it a fun practice. In contrast, others like to list things that trouble them. The list is pretty handy for coaching sessions, for they have topics for regular coaching sessions. Due to my years of experience and certifications, I can coach on any topic and ask my clients to have a specific subject in mind that's the most significant ready right before the session. I like the element of surprise!
Nature is healing.
With the greater demands on our work life, we can easily slip into being hermits. Time out in nature, really embracing the entire spectrum, meaning engaging all your senses, sight, smell, touch, and hearing, has a calming, relaxing, grounding effect. Not to mention, natural sunlight has many benefits to your hormones and sleep rhythms. When was the last time you spent an hour outside?
Hire a life coach.
It amazes my clients when they bring to each session a "problem," and more often than not, it's not a real problem.
It's a thinking problem.
We are often too close to our "problems" to see that they are being created by thoughts, stories, and beliefs and aren't even real issues. Our brain offers thousands of 'thought suggestions every day,' it's ultimately up to the individual to decide what thoughts to accept and what ones to let flow. Not every thought is true, nor does it deserve your energy or attention!