Documenting my life

How to stop overthinking

This is a collection of strategies that can be useful when facing a potentially challenging situation, in case you tend to overthink about it.

Of course every situation is different and these are simply things that have been helpful to me and others. If you are struggling please seek professional help or call someone.

Remind yourself of past challenges

If you are worried right now, it can be useful to think about past experiences where something seemed and was really hard and you got through it.

We can do hard things. Everything is figureoutable.

Sometimes, something seems hard and it turns out it is not as challenging – maybe this is the case for you now. But even if it is something actually difficult and scary, you have done hard things before and you will figure it out this time as well.

Have a plan B and a plan Z

It’s often helpful to know that you are prepared to handle something difficult that might be coming your way. Take some time to think of how you would deal with something negative and figure out a plan B and a plan Z, for the absolute worse case scenario. Maybe you move in with your parents or live on a friend’s couch for a while. You contact a charity organisation that could help with your problem. I recommend journaling to put these ideas pen to paper and use a stream of consciousness style to brainstorm what is worrying you and why first, and then many possible solutions later. It can also be helpful to talk to a friend to bounce ideas off of each other.

Stop replaying the worse case scenario

If you are anything like me, sometimes you tend to worry and imagine the worst case scenario and mentally try and plan and imagine the details of what would happen. In this case, another useful thing is to practice interrupting this thought process when you realize it’s happening. With time, you will be able to at least diminish the overthinking. Critically, it doesn’t really help: it’s great if you can have a plan in place (see point above), but once that is decided, thinking about the issue over and over won’t bring you any further benefits. It’s very difficult to accurately imagine what will happen, what that will look like, what it will bring us, what we will learn and how we will look at this 1, 2, 5, 20 years from now.

Think way ahead

Although impossibile to accurately know, trying to think about how our future self will look back at the situation is a good exercise to detach ourselves from the present moment and get a bird’s eyes view. But even then, we won’t really know how things will turn out, so worrying too much is pointless.

Focus on appreciating the current moment

You are losing time and not enjoying the present, where there is no issue-you-are-thinking-about-that-probably-won’t-happen-anyway. Think of a plan for the worse case scenario and then divert your thoughts away from the issue if you find yourself overthinking this in the future. Why spend time worrying about something potentially negative if you can’t do anything about it and waste even the “little” good times just ahead?

Keep busy

Having an activity that keeps you focused on something specific is useful as it takes your mind off of the issue that is worrying you. If you have a job, going to work will be helpful. Finding an activity to do, preferably something with or for someone else, is a great idea for your free time, as well as learning something new

1 Comment

  1. ramses

    laura, hace dias vi un enlace a esta pagina en reddit y honestamente estoy sorprendido de todo lo que has logrado. eres un ejemplo total de perseverancia, esfuerzo y exito.

    una disculpa por no escribirte en ingles esta ocasion.

    saludos desde guadalajara, mexico!

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