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How do I stop overthinking?



Overthinking, worrying and anxiety are all branches of the same tree. By this, I mean that one can cause the other and the end result of all three is the same.


Overthinking is when we go over and over the same things, analysing them until we become so embroiled in our own headspace that we lose all sense of perspective.


Worrying is when we overthink a situation trying to control the outcome until we become so embroiled in our own headspace that we lose all sense of perspective.


Anxiety is is a feeling of fear or dread that is caused by worrying or overthinking until we become so embroiled in our own headspace that we lose all sense of perspective.


What we are left with is the same thing, that awful feeling in the pit of our stomach and we might be sweating and breathing rapidly.


When we are experiencing this, our brain then kicks in and unhelpfully starts to suggest that maybe we're not as good as other people or that nothing ever works out for us so this thing probably won't either. It might suggest that if we don't do this thing or that thing then something awful might happen and that's when the fear really ramps up and we so embroiled in our own headspace that we lose all sense of perspective.


Can you see a common theme here?


When are overthinking, worrying or anxious, we tend to judge ourselves harshly and find ourselves lacking in some way, maybe were not good enough, clever enough or pretty enough I mean insert your own negative beliefs, we've all got them or had them at some point in our lives. We are also usually giving our confidence and self esteem a good bashing and feeling overwhelmed. Which is really unpleasant. Not to mention the fact that we are driving ourselves crazy because we can't seem to stop doing it.

So, how do we make it stop? Move, it's very difficult to regain control of your mind if you remain in the same environment. You don't have to go far, just get up, go to the loo, make a drink. Just do something to get your body moving which means your brain has to focus on something else. It also helps to reduce the amount of adrenaline being produced. The body releases adrenaline when we are overthinking, worrying or anxious because those routines trigger our fight or flight response and the body prepares itself to either fight or run from danger. The thing is, that this is no longer a valid response when we are triggering ourselves with our thoughts and if not dealt with by calming down and regaining control, the body continues to produce more adrenaline to manage the long term threat. However, because this uses up quite a lot of energy, the body looks for processes that it can slow done or stop doing to conserve energy. Unfortunately for us, one of the first processes to shut down is problem solving. So not only are we worrying, overthinking etc, we know can't see a way out because problem solving has just become a whole lot harder. So the quicker we can slow done or stop the adrenaline and other stress hormones being produced, the easier it becomes to rationalise or problem solve and regain perspective. Once we've moved and started that process, we can either continue with movement and go for a walk, it's even more beneficial if it's through nature as opposed to town but both are early good for wellbeing or do a job that requires us to move but doesn't require much thinking such as ironing or sorting out a cupboard. Those kind of things. We can then use a mindfulness based tools such as journaling to help us to get all of those thoughts out of our heads and onto paper. Once we can see them in front of us, we can then start to make sense of them, find solutions, prioritise taks or find ways to minimise risk and if we take that one step further, over time we may be able to see patterns and identify triggering events. If the idea of journalling seems to rigid for you, use a spider diagram or a voicemail to yourself. The idea is that in getting thoughts out of our heads ,we can then make space to think. We can develop skills to bring us back to the present moment. It is impossible to be anxious or worried when in the present moment. Breathwork exercises like drawing box in your mind or on your hand while you breathe in or out can help. So you would breath in and either in your mind or on your hand draw a line across, breath out and draw a line down, breathe in and draw a line across with the next in breath and then the on the next out breath, completing the box. Or maybe repeating an affirmation such basic "everything always works out for me" or "I am the creator of my life" affirmations are short phrases repeated often that help us to form strong neural pathways in the brain. They can help us to change our mindset or overwrite an unhelpful belief witha mote empowering one. They must be in the present tense so I am I think, I believe etc they must be positive and they must be believable to us so if you use something like "I am confident and powerful" but don't feel this, reframing into "I am becoming more confident and powerful every day" If we can't believe it, it can't work. Another tool for managing worry, overthinking and anxiety is to use problem solving tools. My favourite one is this. On a piece of paper, write down all your thoughts and beliefs about something or all the things that are causing you overwhelm. Cross out anything that you have no control over or can do absolutely nothing about

On a clean piece of paper, draw a line from top to bottom down the middle. On the left side, write down each of the items leaving space in between each one. On the right side ,write down what you want to do about it. When you have your list, go back and break each of the big tasks on the right down into manageable jobs that you can do something everyday towards achieving it and then do it . We tend to find that the more we practise these mindfulness techniques, the less we often we become triggered. Because of our success at managing our minds our resilience grows and because our resilience is improving, our self confidence grows and we find that we worry, overthink and become anxious less. This is how we stop overthinking.


If you would like some more information or are ready to begin your coaching journey, please get in touch.

Chris.

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