After a busy day, you finally have some quiet moments to yourself. Before you know it, your mind starts wandering. Have I sent that email to my boss? Did I turn the aircon off at home? Did I sound stupid during a conversation earlier this week?
Overthinking can happen to anyone at any time of the day, often trapping people in their thoughts without any conclusion. It can wreck moods and prevent one from getting important things done in a timely manner. While worrying is a natural temporal coping mechanism for our emotions, worrying excessively can take a toll on mental health in the long term.
In this article, Yahoo Life SEA has compiled six things that you can do when you catch yourself overthinking.
1. Find a distraction
Occupying your time with hobbies and things you enjoy doing, or even picking a new hobby, can help you minimise overthinking. It can be something quick, like a 15-minute workout; or something more time-consuming, such as cooking a full-course meal to reward yourself.
However, when you are constantly overwhelmed with thoughts, it can be challenging to take up a new hobby. In those times, falling back to simpler enjoyments such as reading a book, watching a comfort movie, watering with plants can all help to take your mind off these invasive thoughts.
Sometimes, merely telling your brain not to overthink will cause you to worry even more. Meditation allows us to think freely, and when those thoughts bubble to the surface, we learn to acknowledge them and then let them leave our minds without the need to hyper-focus on them.
Writing about how your day had been is a to help reduce intrusive thoughts, with results revealing “participants who wrote about a negative event had fewer intrusive and avoidant thoughts and showed sizeable improvements in working memory”.
Journaling can also help you recognise automatic negative thinking, which are knee-jerk thoughts usually involving anger. Identifying these patterns can help you figure what makes you feel better, worry lesser.
4. Take action
You might be overthinking about a situation because you have yet to take any actions to rectify it. The same thoughts occupy your mind repeatedly as there aren’t concrete decisions made. Reduce the toll on your mental health and start making those difficult decisions today.
5. Embracing fears
Some things might seem difficult because you fear doing them. These fears will make you overthink what could happen if you face them. They will keep bubbling up every time you have to do something remotely similar, and each time, you will end up worrying excessively and affecting your mental health.
While embracing your fears is no easy feat, breaking them into bite-sized opportunities can help make them more manageable. Public speaking can be scary, but speaking up during smaller team meetings will make you more comfortable speaking to larger groups of people over time.
6. Seek professional help
If you caught yourself overthinking excessively for an extended period of time, it is perhaps a good choice to seek professional help. They could mean other underlying mental disorders, such as or (GAD).
A qualified therapist might be able to help you manage those intrusive thoughts, help you develop new tools to work through your worries, and even work with you to help you heal through past trauma.