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Are You A Chronic Overthinker? 3 Tangible Tips To Stop 

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Image by W2 Photography / Stocksy
January 11, 2021

There is a distinct difference between thinking through a situation and obsessing over one. Overthinking is a strategy often implemented by people with anxiety to feel more in control of a situation. The problem with overthinking is that in that attempt to "figure it out," the person is actually distracted from feeling their emotions—and it can become downright exhausting. 

If you struggle with ruminating thoughts, clinical psychologist Julie Smith, Ph.D., recommends trying these three tangible tips to break the habit:

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1.

Become aware when you're doing it. 

Anytime you catch yourself overthinking or potentially obsessing over a nagging thought, experience, or fear, bring awareness to that process. "You can't stop doing something if you're doing it on autopilot," she says on TikTok. 

The best way to build this awareness is by journaling at the end of each day, she says. This process should help you spot your overthinking when it occurs and be able to interfere before it becomes too mentally draining. 

Repeating this mantra from spirituality author Shannon Kaiser, M.A., may also help quell the urge to overthink:

"I give myself a mental makeover by dropping from my head to my heart. I am connected to my source energy, which is love and light. I choose to feel my answer and proceed with clarity. There is nothing to analyze or do but to feel my answer. My heart will lead me to clarity, and I trust its wisdom." 

2.

Anchor yourself to the present moment. 

Whether you're ruminating on an awkward first date or worrying about an upcoming presentation at work, overthinking tends to be focused on the future or the past—it's very rarely centered on the present. "Using something like mindfulness can help you practice choosing where you focus your attention," Smith says. Bringing yourself back to the 'here and now' will prevent you from fixating on the things you can't change.

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3.

Bring balance to your thoughts.

While overthinking can start out benign, it often metastasizes into the worst-case scenario. "We tend to overthink when we're anxious, and that's when our minds catastrophize," Smith explains. Balance those thoughts with the alternative outcome, which is the best-case scenario, she suggests. While it won't necessarily change the way things turn out, it will keep you from dwelling in fear.

Bottom line.

Overthinking is a common side effect of anxiousness that can easily turn into a habit. To break the cycle, first become aware that you're doing it, try to anchor yourself in the present moment, and balance your thoughts.

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Abby Moore
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager

Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.