Techniques to Prevent Overthinking

Overthinking doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, does it? It’s good to give things plenty of thought before acting on them. However, thinking too much can become a big problem when you are having difficulty controlling your thoughts or you are finding yourself spending too much time overanalyzing every little decision.

Just like anything else, overthinking can become a habit or a pattern that we develop without noticing. It typically starts out as a self-soothing mechanism, where we rationalize every decision we make to calm a fear or anxiety that we may have. This habit can become hard-wired into our brain and pop up every time we have to make even the simplest decision. We may even overthink conversations, interactions and complete non-issues.

Overthinking is a huge cause of undue stress. It can make us create problems that do not exist and keep us from moving forward. It is a difficult habit to break, but it is absolutely possible! It all begins with being more mindful and getting to the root of our behavior.

  1. Take note of your thoughts. If you want to change your behavior, you’ve got to become hyper-aware of the behavior itself. Pay attention to how often you’re overthinking things. Take note of any patterns or particular times when it occurs.


  1. Try to understand. Before you can stop overthinking, you’ve got to really think about why you do it. Understand why certain occasions cause you to overanalyze. Does it happen with certain situations more than others? Is it about decision making? Does it happen more when it concerns social interactions? Is it more of a problem when the outcome will affect others?

Next, think about what the overthinking does for you. Does it ease your anxiety in some way? Is it just a habit that you can’t stop? Is it making it worse for you?


  1. Write it down. Once you’ve thought about everything, get it all out of your head and write it down on paper. Write down what situations affect you most, and write down what satisfaction you get from thinking about the situation over and over. Also, write down how overanalyzing has affected you negatively.


  1. Come up with other coping strategies. Most over-thinkers likely developed the habit as a way to calm their anxiety over a situation. This may work initially, but over time, it becomes obsessive and the thinking no longer serves a constructive purpose. Come up with a way to ease the anxiety of risk-taking or decision making without obsessive worrying.

Some alternatives include grounding (focusing on the physical environment around you in order to get out of your head), exercise, distraction, or getting advice from others.


  1. Put things into perspective. It’s easy to get lost in our own thoughts, especially when we are overthinking. Put the situation into perspective by getting straight to the facts. When faced with a decision or an issue that is causing you to overthink, stop, breathe and write down the facts.

Start with the issue, then write down the possible outcomes. Think about what the best possible scenarios are. Then think about the worst possible scenarios. Then think about how you would be able to bounce back from the worst possible outcome. What is the probability of each scenario? Is the risk worth it?

If you handle each issue in a similar fashion, you can disarm your fears and remove the need to overthink in the first place.


  1. Let go of perfection. You will always be anxious and on edge if you have an unrealistic expectation of the world. You will never be perfect. Your life will never be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. You can’t just spend your life driving yourself insane trying to achieve perfectionism; it’s never going to happen. All you can do is weigh out the facts, make an educated decision and hope for the best.


  1. Learn to forgive. It’s hard to stop overanalyzing if you haven’t forgiven yourself for old mistakes. Harboring resentment toward yourself will only add fuel to the fire. If you can learn to forgive yourself, learn from missteps and move on, your mind will be free. Each regret you hold on to is one more anxious thought being added to the mix.

Overthinking is a burden that will hold you back from creativity, taking risks and being yourself. Being conscious of your thought patterns can take you one step closer to freeing your mind each day.


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