How to Stop Overthinking in 5 Easy Steps

how to stop overthinking


Do you ever find yourself overthinking every aspect of your life? Whether during the day or at night when you’re trying to sleep, everyone overthinks every once in a while. However, over time, thinking too much can become unhealthy. Additionally, it can often cause you to second guess decisions, overanalyze past situations, and take a toll on your mental health. With that being said, there are several methods you can use to help you quiet your mind and live peacefully. Therefore, if you want to learn how to stop overthinking, keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Overthinking is excessive worrying that originates from anxiety and stress.
  • Overthinking can manifest as both mental and physical symptoms.
  • Learning how to stop overthinking can help you live a happier and more fulfilling life.
  • Overthinking is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and anxiety. However, it is not a mental illness on its own.

Why do I overthink so much?

Before learning how to stop overthinking, it’s crucial that you understand what it is and why you may be doing so. Overthinking is defined as excessive worrying. It can relate to obsessions, compulsions, and intrusive thoughts. In most cases, overthinking stems from feelings of stress in your work or personal life. And while it’s normal for us to self-reflect on our experiences, it can transform into a fixation and manifest in many different ways, including:

  • Dwelling on specific events that have occurred in the past
  • Fixating on aspects of your life you cannot control
  • Focusing on the worst-case scenario even if it is illogical
  • Giving all your attention and energy to mistakes you have made
  • Questioning whether you made the right decision
  • Worrying about how you will perform on a test, in a presentation, or in other areas of your life

Furthermore, while overthinking causes mental despair, it can also lead to several physical symptoms, including:

  • Extreme fatigue and low energy levels
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Changes to your appetite

Experiencing both mental and physical symptoms can take a toll on your overall health. This is why overthinkers need to understand how to stop overthinking using proven methods that allow them to be present at the moment.

Is overthinking a mental disorder?

Moreover, overthinking is not considered a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Instead, it is a symptom of numerous mental disorders that you may or may not have a diagnosis for.

It is essential to remember that mental disorders are not a choice, and there are options and resources available to you should you think you require assistance from a licensed medical professional. It should also be noted that this article is not meant to serve as a confirmation or diagnostic tool for any mental disorder. Therefore, if you think you or someone you know may be experiencing a symptom, the best thing to do is book an appointment with a medical professional for more information.

Are overthinkers smart?

Furthermore, there is little scientific, and medical research that confirms overthinking is a sign of intelligence. However, a study in 2011 with 26 participants indicates a positive correlation between worrying and intelligence. In addition, another study from 2015 supports overthinking and anxiety as related to higher intelligence.

Nonetheless, while both studies confirm a positive relationship between both variables, further research among larger, more diverse population sizes is required to confirm these results as valid.

Is overthinking a form of depression?

Moreover, before providing you with insight on how to stop overthinking, you may be wondering whether overthinking is a form of depression. For those not aware, depression is a common mental illness that affects your mood. As such, individuals can experience symptoms, including:

  • Intense feelings of sadness
  • A loss of interest in things they enjoy
  • Decrease in energy levels
  • Troubles with sleeping
  • Feelings of being lost
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating

As you will notice, overthinking is not a form of depression. Instead, it is a common symptom individuals experience when they have an official diagnosis of depression.

Is overthinking a part of OCD?

Furthermore, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder categorized by persistent, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that cause extreme discomfort. Therefore, you may also be questioning whether overthinking is a part of OCD.

And, to put it simply, yes, overthinking is a factor of OCD that manifests as obsessions. Obsessions are repeating thoughts, intense urges, or images that will cause the individual to feel anxious and worried. Thus, to reduce anxiety, individuals also experience compulsions. These compulsions are repetitive behaviours that an individual with OCD feels they must perform to respond to the obsessive behaviours. Otherwise, they believe something terrible may happen.

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How to stop overthinking?

Moreover, now that we understand what overthinking is and why and how it can manifest, let’s look at how to stop overthinking from controlling your daily experiences.

1. Distract Yourself

The first strategy to stop overthinking is to catch yourself and distract yourself by engaging in an activity that will get your mind off of what you are worrying about.

2. Practice a Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation is practical with overthinking as it can help ground you into the present moment. By focusing on your breathing and shutting down intrusive thoughts, you can calm the mind by turning your focus inward.

3. Set Time Aside Daily to Self-Reflect

Further, another way how to stop overthinking is to schedule time in your day to self-reflect. You can do this by writing your thoughts in your journal by using writing prompts that promote mindfulness. However, when your timer rings, it’s time to put away your thoughts and do something productive instead of allowing your thoughts to pester.

4. Focus on Problem-Solving

For many individuals, intrusive thoughts stem from problems in life. Therefore, rather than focusing on the adverse outcomes you think may occur, direct your energy to create solutions and take charge of your happiness.

5. Book an Appointment with a Medical Professional

Lastly, while you can learn how to stop overthinking, not every method may work for you. Thus, seeking guidance from a professional psychologist or doctor may help you get to the bottom of where your stress and anxiety are coming from in a safe and controlled manner.

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