Worrying, we’re all familiar with it. It can take over your brain and be your only train of thought. Sometimes there is a real something to worry about, but more often than not, they are not. Like Mark Twain said: “I’ve had many worries in my life, most of which never happened”. So today, I’m going to share some tips on how to stop overthinking!
Like I said, we all worry. I guess it’s in our nature, so there might be limits to what we can do about it. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we have to surrender to it and let our heads be filled with worries all day!
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Why worrying is a waste of time
Some people say worrying is a waste of time and I’m inclined to agree with them. There are many things we can worry about, but there simply is no point. Let me tell you why:
Worrying about something that happened in the past
Things that have happened in the past, have already happened. We cannot change the event, we can only change what is happening right now as a result from it. So maybe we need to make something right, or change something in our life as a result of that event.
Worrying about something happening now or maybe in the future
As for future and current events, there are 2 things we can do. We can either accept the situation that is happening or might happen, or we can change it. Worrying is the biggest form of inaction there is. It keeps us stuck in the moment, while we have to make a decision. Either accept the situation or event, or figure out how to change it.
Worrying about other people
One important thing to keep in mind here is that they are other people with their own lives, needs, desires, opinions, and a free will. Worrying about other people is a sign that you care about them, and that is great. But don’t let it take over your life. Or theirs. You can express your worries to them, and maybe they will take them into account. But generally, it is out of your hands.
You cannot force someone else into doing (or not doing) something because it would stop your worrying, just as someone else cannot do that to you. Accept that other people and their actions are out of your power, and your life will be a bit easier.
What worrying does to the body
Several sources say that the effects of worrying can vary from headaches to heartpounding. It can disrupt sleep, cause irritability, indecisiveness, dizziness, fatigue and so many other things. If you worry for longer periods and your stress levels stay high, it can even lead to more serious conditions such as a lower immune function, memory loss or in the worst case, a heart attack.
Now you might have to do some serious worrying for a long time, but the risk is there and it is real.
It is clear that worrying is bad for your health, and should be avoided as much as possible. If we can learn how to stop worrying, we can limit its impact on our health and our life.
So, how to stop overthinking?
If you are ready to make a change and learn how to stop overthinking, here are my 5 tips to help you.
Take a step back from the situation
The main thing to know how to stop overthinkingis to understand how pointless it truly is. When you worry, consider whether you can change whatever you are worrying about.
If the answer is yes, then go do that thing to change it.
If the answer is no, try to let it go. Keep reminding yourself “there is no point in worrying about this, so I am going to do something else”.
Distract yourself with other things and try to let go of that worry.
Write your worries down
I have spoken about the benefits of journaling so many times, it may become a bit boring. But I swear by it, and it is proven to work. So write your worries down! Get it all out on paper and then read through them.
Sometimes, even reading though what you’ve written is enough to let it go. Sometimes we read something back and think; Is that really what I worry about? That seems pointless… and we’re able to let go of that worry.
If that’s not enough, try this exercise
Write down the event you’re worried about.
Then, write down the best possible outcome.
Next, write the worst possible outcome.
Finally, write down what you could do if that worst possible outcome would be real.
Write yourself a solution, a plan B. Also, write down how realistic it is that that worst possible outcome would happen.
Now let go of that worst outcome and start focusing on the best possible outcome. Everytime your mind wanders to that worst outcome, you think: No, this positive outcome will happen.
Talk to someone if it is limiting you in any way
If you feel your worries are too much for you to handle, you notice physical effects or you feel limited by them in any way, speak to someone. It might be a family member, a friend, a manager or a professional.
Speaking about it with someone can take away some of your worry. Just as with writing, sometimes it takes saying them out loud to see that we are worrying about pointless things, or the perspective of someone else can help us see the situation differently.
Find a relaxing activity
Sometimes the best thing to do to stop worrying is to distract our brains. Whether it is cooking, polishing your nails, working out or coloring, as long as it distracts you it is good.
This is something to only apply for short-term worries or nerves, and does not work for a longer period. If there is a bigger thing, or something you’ve been worrying about for a long time, distraction is not a solution. In that case, try any of the other tips I have for you.
Have a good support system
Like I said, talking to someone can be a great help. Make sure it is someone who understands and supports you, and this is where your support system comes in. Your support system is anyone who you’d turn to for support, regardless of your relation to them.
They can also help distract you, or help you change the situation if that is something that can be done.
Assign a time for worrying
A method some professionals suggest is to assign yourself a specific time for worrying. If you find your worrying is taking over a lot of your time, assign a 15 minute block sometime during the day where you can worry, and then let it go for the day. It is up to you when, where or how you want to fill this time block.
As you’ll have to train your brain into only worrying in that block, generally the amount of worrying you do will also reduce over time. During the day you have to remind your brain to save your worrying for that time block, whenever you have decided that is.
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So those are some simple tips on how to stop worrying! I am a definite overthinking and master worrier, but I have really tried reducing it a lot. I have started to understand that many things are out of my control and therefore it would be a waste of my time and energy to worry about them.
I do my part, and let others do theirs.
I also have a strong belief that everything will always work out for the best, things do happen for a reason and bad experiences are growing experiences. I understand that’s not something everyone believes in, but it gives me comfort and it helped me learn how to stop worrying as well.