You’re Not the Only One!
Do you ever find yourself overthinking a situation or worrying about something that is usually out of your control? It affects some of us more than others, but if you find you’re particularly prone to overthinking, it can become quite detrimental to your overall mental health and well-being. Our brains are wired in such a way that it feels easy to negatively overthink or imagine whole scenarios. This is because throughout our evolution it’s paid off to do this; for example if primitive man or woman were scanning the surroundings and planning their next move, then to preconceive what may go wrong helped them to survive and live to see another day.
However in our modern day lives overthinking can become too much to bear. We can overly and irrationally worry about something that’s never going to happen, and even get stuck on one thought that goes round and round in our heads all day. I’ve been there so I know how difficult it can feel! To an outsider the thought might seem silly or irrational, but in fact it can feel very real and often like torture!
The good news is though, that it doesn’t have to be this way. Read on for some tips for coping with the thoughts and ways you can turn it around.
Useful tips for coping:
Being aware and recognising your thoughts are possibly the first steps you can take. If you can acknowledge that you are overthinking a situation, then you can start to see the thoughts for what they really are. Thoughts are just thoughts and we have thousands of them every day. Just because you can think something, it doesn’t make it reality and they cannot hurt you unless you give them too much power. So the next time you find your mind racing, simply notice and be aware of what’s happening.
Surrendering and Feeling
Next I’d suggest just surrendering to the moment a little bit. This isn’t about giving up, it’s about letting go and stopping the struggle to resist it. Whenever we resist a thought or try to fight it, it only makes it louder. Instead find a quiet room, close your eyes and breathe deeply. You could even try some breathing exercises to help you with this one. Then you can allow a few moments just to acknowledge the thoughts that are flooding in just by observing them as they enter your mind. Surrender, breathe, let the thoughts in and observe them as if you were a bystander…and then let them go out again. You may even find it useful to visualise the thoughts flowing in and out as you breathe. I find this trick really helps to take the power back.
Being in Your Body
Another trick is to use a little bit of Mindfulness. Really notice and feel the sensations in your body and again just observe them. What are you feeling in your body right now? It helps to really focus on that sensation as it takes your mind away from the racing thoughts, and refocuses it onto your body. So for example, right now I can feel a tingling sensation in my fingers and toes, and I have butterflies in my stomach. The idea is not to judge the feeling, but simply focus on where you can feel it in your body and just notice its presence.
Re-channel that Energy!
Try and re-channel that energy into something else. Exercise is a great way to do this, whether that’s just getting outside for a walk or doing something more intense. Have a look at some local exercise classes that can help refocus that energy! Or alternatively redirecting it into something creative is always a great way to channel out those thoughts. When we’re focused on something else, not only does it help us to function from the more rational parts of the brain but we can also use all that excess energy as fuel to become really creative. You don’t need any skills to try something new, just give it a go!
Moving Forwards- Retrain the Brain!
The above can help when it comes to the moment and needing to calm or manage those thoughts…but what about the long-term? If we’re used to feeling a certain way then we may be more inclined to keep thinking this way. Overthinking can certainly become a bigger problem as the more we do it, the more worse it becomes. However it is possible to turn this around and retrain our thoughts over time and start feeling more positive in general. Have a look at a previous blog post about why it’s possible to change our way of thinking, backed up by a bit of neuroscience!
Consciously Choose what You let in
Fill your brain with positive and uplifting material. It can be easy to get sucked into the news and get carried away stories in the media. However it can being very heavily skewed to only focus on the negatives and what’s going wrong in the world, whilst quite often missing out on what’s going well. If you can, try to cut the mainstream news out of your routine and instead seek out inspirational things to read..there’s plenty out there!
Rewiring the Brain for Good
Using a gratitude journal or jar to write down what has been good about your day. Please see the links provided above for details or my previous blog post. Alternatively this is a good article that explains how you build yourself a positivity circuit by looking for the positives for 1 minute, three times per day.
Focus on Solutions
When you train your brain to stop seeing the problems and turning them around to look for solutions, this can be a big game changer. It’s how we choose to view a situation that really matters to our perception of it. Next time you find yourself worrying about a problem, write it down and start thinking about all the possible ways around it there are. There’s always a solution!
Mind Training: Hypnotherapy and Meditation
Hypnotherapy is a great way to change those unhelpful thinking patterns. It helps you to relax and bring those stress levels down. Once you’re in a nice, relaxing trance it is easier to speak to your subconscious, where you may have deeply rooted negative thoughts. Additionally learning to meditate throughout the day in short intervals, I’ve found extremely useful. There’s often lots of online help that you can find, or alternatively speak to a professional who can support you in the right direction.
Please remember there is always help out there if you feel like you’re not coping. And if you are struggling and would like to discuss these matters further, then please feel free to contact me today and find out how you can start to make changes in your life.