By: Juliana Cuadra
What if…What would happen if… What if they think… All these phrases have one thing in common: They are only possibilities. If the majority of your thoughts include “what if” statements, you may be overthinking things.
I know we all are experiencing some degree of anxiety during this pandemic, and I would be lying if I told you that I haven’t had some restless nights tossing and turning and thinking about what tomorrow holds.
But during this hard time, overthinking and being negative only makes things worse. With our bodies’ daily routines out of whack, the last thing we need is to fuel the fire with doubt and negativity. Overthinking things can lead to anxiety, depression and a general dissatisfaction with life, so here’s some tips to stop overthinking/analyzing things and relax.
- Be Aware of Your Thought Patterns
One of the most important steps is acknowledging that you’re overthinking things. Thoughts can easily get away from you and lead you to believe things that are untrue. If you are constantly nervous, stressed or obsessed with possibilities/future, then you are probably overthinking things. Acceptance is the first step to recovery, so be honest with yourself and realize that your thought patterns are destructive.
- Accept What You Can’t Control
You have control over some things in your life, but ultimately, there are always going to be things that you can’t control. Rather than wasting time by being anxious over the things you can’t control, focus on the things you can and put your energy into those things. For example, maybe you can’t control every aspect of your life with COVID-19, but you can always take care of yourself the best that you can by exercising, eating well, sleeping and taking care of your mental health.
- Don’t Analyze Too Much
Sometimes analyzing things too frequently can lead to destructive thoughts and false accusations. Don’t dwell on minor details that don’t make a huge difference. For example, if someone makes a disgusted face or is whispering to someone else, don’t make any assumptions that you’re annoying them or that they’re whispering about you. There is a theory called the psychological projection theory. This theory states that sometimes people may avoid responsibility of their own thoughts or feelings by attributing them to others. This could mean that because you feel bad about yourself, you’re making up lies about what others think to satisfy your feelings. Don’t do this, as it is destructive behavior and not beneficial in any way to your well-being.
- Don’t Obsess Over Perfection
As much as we’ve heard everyone say it, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that’s okay. That’s how we learn and evolve into better people. While it’s great to strive for the best, realize that there are limits. Don’t obsess over perfection because perfection is unattainable. All you can do is try your best. If you know that you’ve truly tried your hardest, there’s no reason to be upset with yourself or beat yourself up. Constantly trying to be perfect is not only unattainable, but it is draining and offers little satisfaction for all of your hard work.
- Stop Being Negative
A negative mindset can drain you and lead you down a dark path to depression. Overthinking can cause you to think negatively, especially if you’re having a bad day or feeling inadequate. There’s no reason to worry about something that hasn’t happened yet, and it does your mind no good. In fact, it could do harm if the self-fulfilling prophecy comes into play. The self-fulfilling prophecy states that if you think negatively, you will perform badly. For example, if you tell yourself that you will have a bad day, you are more likely to have a bad day. The body follows where the mind leads, so if you’re going to think of possibilities, think of them in a positive light.
- Live in the Moment (Come Down from the Clouds)
Rather than focusing on things that haven’t happened yet, why not focus on what’s in front of you? Dwelling on the future or past is neither productive nor realistic, so look around you, and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the present. If you are always looking for something hypothetical or something that you don’t have, you won’t be able to enjoy what’s happening now. Think about everything that you have now, and appreciate it while you can. Even in quarantine, learning to love and appreciate the people and things you have in your life is the key to fulfillment and happiness.
- Change the Way you Perceive Failure
Sometimes, we just need to put things into perspective. The mind can easily get carried away and amplify things. It’s natural for humans to be scared of things that threaten us, but it is not healthy to be in a constant state of worry or anxiety. Identify the things that are worrying you, and rationalize them. Are you worried about your job? What if you’re fired? Think about it like this. Even if you were to be fired, the world would not come to an end. At the end of the day, your life and health are the most precious things, and as long as you have that, tomorrow is another day full of new chances and opportunities to find happiness. For more tips on how to avoid overthinking, check out this blog: https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/10-simple-ways-you-can-stop-yourself-from-overthinking.html.
Much love to everyone out there, and please stay safe, happy and healthy!