6 methods you can directly apply to fight your habit of overthinking and re-focus on taking good actions
Hello, my friends,
I hope that you had a wonderful week and that you had some new insights and/or made some new beautiful memories. I really like this time of the year a lot. It always feels like the perfect time to reconnect with friends, family, and yourself. At the end of the year, I always re-evaluate my dreams and goals, but I also look at what I achieved in the last year. This always gives me a lot of energy for the next year. It reminds me that I have plenty of things in my life that I am grateful for and that I only strive to make my life even better.
However, there is one thing that can spoil this time exceptionally. My own mind. For everybody that knows me personally, this is not a surprise at all but I tend to overthink a lot. When I have a problem I will think it to death (That´s what we say in German when you think about something too much). I guess that I am not the only one with this problem.
So, here are some of the things I learned during the last years to deal better with this annoying habit of mine. Those are just some tools and I would love if I could tell you that I am cured of overthinking but that would be a lie. However, those methods help me to overthink way less and often even stop my overthinking and bring me back to the only thing that can change your future to the positive: taking good and consistent action.
“Success isn´t always about greatness. It´s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
Sadly, I started this post after I was in a cycle of overthinking. I thought about the uncertainty for myself in the next year after I will finish my master’s degree and I don´t have a clear path in my head. So, I was reading and even more thinking about how I can solve this problem. Although, I already know that the solution is simple. The solution is that I will go step by step. I will choose a job or some jobs that I think are okay. Then, I will apply to them and when I get accepted somewhere, I will try this. If it´s great then I will stay. Otherwise, I will try something else. The next years will be my self-discovery or career-discovery journey.
But the overthinking didn´t help me so I decided to rather do something good for myself. For me, that meant to start writing something.
And here we meet again in a new post from me and I am drifting off again. Probably enough explanation why I am writing this post and now let´s jump right into it:
The biggest one for me and therefore the first one I want to mention is to accept it. Yes, it sounds simple but accepting that I tend to overthink was at least for me a very important step. This leads me to focus more on what I can do instead of overthinking and it re-focused my mind to what I can do instead. Accepting it doesn´t mean that you surrender to it, quite the opposite! It means that you acknowledge that you have a weakness so that you can focus on what you can do to deal with that weakness.
“If you want to get anything done, you have to start somewhere.”Doug Baldwin
The other methods are in random order.
The next method is to learn how to calm your own mind (meditation). Although, I have to say that I hate the word mediation because most people believe that it´s nonsense or only something for monks. That´s why I rather call it learning how to calm your own mind. Because that´s what meditation is in essence to me. Improving the ability to calm your own mind helps in all areas of life! And that doesn´t have to be long or complicated. Already some minutes each day can work miracles. I try to use it randomly throughout the day. Examples are, I will take some deep breaths while walking or doing something. Or I will sit somewhere calm (a bench, chair, wall, etc…) and focus on the surrounding noises, fresh air and on my breath. Or I will sit some seconds on my bed before standing up or stop a bit while stretching or just randomly throughout the day. Learning to calm your own mind is very important to increase the chance of stopping your own mind from overthinking and re-focusing it on what you actually can do.
Drumroll, please. Just kidding, the next method will not be a surprise at all. It´s exercise. Exercise is a magic potion for getting out of your own mind and into your body. It´s really difficult to worry or overthink while exercising. And it´s so simple to just go for a run (or a slow walk). Maybe I could have called it “movement” instead of exercise but exercising seems to be a guarantee for me that you get out of your mind while getting yourself moving only has a high chance of achieving the same. So, this one is like the go to option if something else doesn´t seem to work or if you just want to have a close to guaranteed way of finishing overthinking for the moment. Although, I hope that I will one day be able to achieve the same with “calming my mind” but until now it´s too difficult.
Method number three is journaling. I only started to do this regularly for approximately 7 weeks now, but it calmed my own mind so much and it gave me a new form of focus that I directly wanted to share it with you. The other main advantage for me is that it is a calm time for yourself by yourself in which you focus on what you want out of life and what you already have.
All you need is any kind of notebook or piece of paper and a pen. To make it yourself easier chose some questions to answer every day. Here are the questions that I answer every morning. Tell me if you want more explanation and I will make a post about it.
- I will let go of… (I will stop worrying about…)
- I am grateful for…
- I will focus on…
- I am…
- What could I have done better?
- Amazing things that happened
I answer numbers 5 and 6 in the morning from the day before and then I answer 1 until 4 from the day because I cannot get myself to do it in the evening and in this way it´s still complete. You are welcome to adjust it to your own needs and schedule. And remember that those questions are my recommendations and you are welcome to also change those. In case you change the questions please contact me and tell my why you changed something because I am curious and open to adjusting them myself.
The fourth method is to talk with other people about your thoughts. Maybe this is a very personal one but for me, it helps a lot! It still seems strange to me when I do it. However, it works miracles for me! I use it especially for all bigger thoughts that I have. From deciding my career, what to do for the weekend up to talking with my friends and family about my decision to getting married. This could sound strange and you could think that I want others to decide for me. But actually, this gets the thoughts out of my head and into reality. Often, I can then think calmer about it and come to a conclusion myself.
If this is too strange for you, then, speak your thoughts out for yourself or maybe your pet. Who knows, maybe it can help you too?
The last one is more like general advice or a rule that I try to follow but I think it´s really helpful. It´s to live in the present. The more often you can live in the present and take good actions towards your dreams the less time you can overthink. Act on everything that you can take action on. Taking small steps is better than overthinking. Often it´s simple as taking one deep breath. Afterward, you can think about another small step you can take.
Part of the advice to live in the present is to mix it up. Enjoy what you have and try new things. You can reconnect to your friends and family, try a different hobby or make something you haven´t done in a long time. You can read more or something different or you can go into nature or listen to different music or just laugh (maybe watch or listen to something funny).
Everything that brings you back into the present helps with stopping to overthink.
The post got again a bit longer than I aimed for, but I hope it´s still okay. Let me know your opinion and especially if anything helped you out of this post!
I hope that you have learned something and are now better equipped for the next time your brain starts to think something to death.
All the best and a wonderful weekend,