How To Stop Overthinking and Negative Thoughts

Dr. Ankit Sharma, PhD

Updated on:

Stop Over Thinking

In this era of speed & cutthroat competition, two of its by-products are Overthinking & Negative Thoughts. Sometimes we suffer from various crisis issues, which cause those. We have to remember that overthinking & Negative thoughts are like rocking chairs, they give us something to do but don’t take us anywhere. We get stuck in a vortex of negativity & often lose our confidence. Today, we will discuss how to stop Negative Thoughts & ways to stop overthinking.

Definition of Overthinking and Negative Thoughts

Maybe already you are familiar with the terms. Still, let us tell you what those are.

  • Overthinking: Overthinking is a tendency of us to cling to a thought for too long, often more than the time it needs or deserves. Which is undoubtedly a waste of our precious time.
  • Negative Thoughts: Negative thoughts are a mental action of the process of understanding the self, others, or the world in general that are characterized by negative perceptions, prospects, and ascriptions and are associated with unpleasant emotions and unfavorable behavioral, physiological, and health outcomes.

Now the main question is, ‘Can we do something about these?’ Or can we “stop over thinking”. The answer is yes, we can if we want.

Ways To Stop Overthinking

Stop Over Thinking

Now that we are clear about the definitions, let’s have a look at how to stop overthinking.

1. Notice when you’re trapped in Your Head

Overthinking can become such a habit that you don’t even notice when you’re doing it. Start paying attention to the way you think so you can become aware of the dilemma.

When you’re rerunning events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can’t control, admit that this isn’t fruitful. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to helpful action.

2. Keep the Focus on Problem-Solving

Getting stuck in the thoughts of your problem isn’t helpful, but looking for ways to solve it is. If the problem is something you can control, think about how you can avoid the problem.

If the problem is something you cannot control, think about the strategies you can use to minimize its effects. Focus on the things you can control, like your attitude or skills & effort.

3. Challenge Your Thoughts

It is quite easy to get overwhelmed with negative thoughts. So, before you consider calling your office and telling them you are sick think it might get you fired or will get some negative performance report.

Remember that your emotions will obstruct your ability to look at situations impartially. Take a step back and look at the facts. Do you have any evidence that your thoughts are true? Or do you have any evidence that your thoughts are not true? After careful consideration make your move which will go in favor of you.

4. Schedule Time for Thinking

Getting roasted on your problems for long periods isn’t productive. But concise reflections can be helpful. Thinking about how things could have been done in a different manner can be helpful in the future, it can help to perform better in the future.

Allot 20 minutes of “thinking time” into your daily schedule. During that period, let yourself worry, ponder, or muse on whatever you want. But when the time is up, move on to something else. Get some work done, get some new ideas, and just don’t get stuck.

5. Learn Mindfulness Skills

It is impossible to go back in time to re-act your yesterday or move forward in time to see what’s going to happen the next day. Mindfulness will help you become more attentive.

Just like any other ability, mindfulness takes practice, but over time, it can diminish overthinking. There are classes, books, apps, courses, and videos available to help you learn mindfulness skills.

6. Change the Channel

Telling yourself to stop overthinking about something may bounce back. The more you try to stop that thinking, chances are the more it will pop up in your brain.

Change the process in your brain by bringing some small changes in your activity. Exercise, engage yourself in some entirely different work, and do something entirely different. Distract yourself completely.

How To Stop Overthinking at Night

That is the most common issue, whenever we lie down after a hard day, all these overthinking & negative thoughts pounce on us like hungry predators. Instead of getting relaxed, our brain gets dragged down in a pool of negativity and precious sleep starts to elude us. To avoid this, you can try these tips to stop overthinking at night.

1. Distract yourself from other thoughts

The absolutely necessary thing for good sleep is a quiet mind. Think of something else, rather than what is troubling you right now. It can be anything you like. Make plans for a trip with your family/ friends, think of a get-together, and make a shopping list in your mind.

2. Write down what is bothering you

Take a piece of paper & a pen & start writing about the issue that is bothering you. Let it all out in your writing.  If possible don’t forget to add how you are planning to tackle the issue or your strategies to avoid it. Spend a maximum of 20 minutes on it.

3. Listen to some soft music

Put on some of your favorite soft music &close your eyes. Feel the music, and let all your worries drown in the soothing tunes. You can listen to some natural sounds like sounds of rain, sounds of Forest Rivers, sounds of birds chirping in the morning, or whatever sound relaxes you. You can find all these on the internet.

4. Have some Light Reading

It is another great way to stop overthinking. Take a light book of your choice, maybe a science fiction, a comedy, a horror story (a strict no if you are easily scared), or some detective novel.

Plunge into the adventure of some space Viking, or unsolved mystery of some bright sleuth, and get some rib-tickling does of comedy. If you like comic books you can pick one too.

Conclusion

To stop overthinking you need to understand why you are overthinking and question yourself: ‘Does overthinking help me at all?’ The answer is a big NO. You are just wasting your time and in the process letting negativity enter your mind that doesn’t help you at all.

You can try these ways to stop overthinking explained above. To fly high, your mind has to be as light as a feather.

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