3 Tips on How to Manage Overthinking
There are times we can all relate to when we have experienced overthinking. Every single one of us has moments when we overthink. As a business professional, do you ever find yourself dwelling on how you may have done something differently? Maybe you are aware that you seem to second guess most of the decisions you make? Perhaps these thoughts leave you feeling mentally exhausted. For many of us, overthinking can become a habit and unfortunately, not an easy one to break.
My client shared that she had an upcoming presentation and all she could keep thinking about was everything that could go wrong. A colleague of hers noticed and pointed out that she could be overthinking and suggested that she simply just relax and prepare for it, yet she could not seem to turn her brain off from ruminating about the issues that could go wrong while doing her presentation.
For some people, overthinking is beyond just an upcoming big event, such as a speaking engagement or presentation. Many people experience repetitive thoughts and rumination that seems to be happening so often, that it is leading to unproductive days. As a business professional, you may have noticed your work enthusiasm dwindling and staying stuck in what is often referred to as analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis). Learning to recognize when you are overthinking is the first step towards addressing it and breaking the habit.
How to know when you are overthinking
You are aware of repetitive thoughts
Making decisions feels like a major struggle
Second-Guessing Your Decisions
How to stop overthinking
Using the above mentioned signs of noticing when you are overthinking is the key to having full awareness of the habit. Next, is to choose one or more of the options below that you feel would help with easing up on repetitive thoughts, over analyzing, second guessing and ruminating. Each issue will be different and therefore may require using one or all of the following tips:
Channel Your Thoughts and Energy
I know for myself, telling myself to simply just stop thinking about something, never works. However, I have had great success with channeling my thoughts and energy. I share with clients that we can change the energy of our thoughts by engaging in activities such as exercise or a walk. Call a friend and have a completely different conversation that can shift your mind onto a subject or topic you enjoy. Or distract yourself with cleaning up your office or home or delve into a project that you can get into the flow and forget about the negative thoughts.
Reflecting on the Exaggerating Thoughts
This may sound counterintuitive. What I mean by this is to allow yourself some reflection time, such as 20 minutes so you can worry, think about all of the negative thoughts, journal and write it down. During this scheduled reflection time, notice any strong emotions you have while overthinking. When we have strong emotions, they can interfere with our ability to gain clarity on the issue or problem. It is helpful to pause, reflect and ask yourself, exactly what facts or evidence do you have that your thought is true? That it is untrue?
When 20 minutes is up, tell yourself to focus on the next activity. There may be some overthinking that starts to creep back in, just remind yourself that you have another scheduled reflection time, so those thoughts can wait until then. This will allow you to compartmentalize and put your focus where it needs to be in the present.
Be Solution Focused
Instead of dwelling on an issue or problem for hours or days on end, focus on a solution. You will feel more productive with your time as well as empowered by moving forward. Using this option can offer either a solution that fixes the problem or shifting to a new perspective. For example, perhaps you got laid off through no fault of your own. Instead of wishing things were different or ruminating about the situation over and over (overthinking), you could choose to change how you are responding to the situation and begin to focus on a solution (focused problem-solving) by reaching out to recruiters, updating your resume or taking an online course, such as my Self-Discovery program.
Studies show that overthinking can increase stress levels, block your creativity, and hinder your judgment; leaving you to feel disempowered with making decisions. The good news is that it takes practice but you can actually train your brain to think differently. Overtime, you can develop more positive habits that will help to create an empowering mindset. If you are ready to make a positive change and would like support, guidance, encouragement and accountability, contact me for Life Empowerment Coaching and let’s get started!