Shout-out to the overthinkers; we see you, we feel you, we are you!
As much as we chastise ourselves or wonder ‘why me?’ when our brains get caught on relentless loops, it is completely normal for us to do this.
The reason is, that the average human is actually wired to overthink as a survival tool.
Wrestling with our genetic make-up and how our cerebral cortex (where the root of all thinking takes place) functions might sound like a David and Goliath battle, yet there are things that we can do to try and minimise the way our brain’s emotional centre reacts.
Over at Power of Positivity, a publication celebrating daily inspiration alongside science-based solutions, they have come up with four ways to help you make a change today.
Check out the top tips below.
1) Postpone negative thoughts
Now, let’s be straight, this one sounds a lot easier said than done.
When a negative thought hits, it doesn’t feel like a physical being you can simply lock in another room until you’re ready to deal with it.
However, the secret to managing ruminating thoughts is said to lie with postponing them to think about later when YOU say the time is right.
According to Power of Positivity, they say: “Many overthinkers benefit from setting a particular time specifically for overthinking, from 8pm to 8.30pm or from 1pm to 1.10pm.
“If these thoughts pop up at any other time during the day, they are not allowed to entertain them and must wait until their next scheduled overthinking time to address them.
“In other words, when you start to contemplate, you get to say, ‘I’ll think about this later’, and move on. Believe it or not, this is an excellent technique.”
2) Be aware of your thoughts
It is believed that the average person has up to 60,000 thoughts a day.
You might be thinking, that’s a helluva lot of thoughts to try and be aware of. But it’s also a helluva lot of thoughts not to be aware of – many of which can be detrimental to us.
If you are constantly processing thoughts of fear, doubt, or shame without questioning them, these negative thoughts seep into your subconscious like a sponge and dictate the way you see yourself.
Yet by having awareness of thought and try to catch them before they feed into your brain data can help challenge the negative narratives we tell ourselves (often unintentionally).
The Power of Positivity team say one of the best rules of thumb is to watch, not participate.
They explained: “When thoughts come to you and swirl towards rumination, stop participating in them. Watch them as if you’re an audience member and they’re putting on a play, and examine them as an outsider looking in. Allow your thoughts to come and go without ever jumping in.
“In other words, just because a train of thought has arrived at the station, that doesn’t mean you need to buy a ticket to ride it.”
3) Manage your self-esteem
Low self-esteem doesn’t just start and stop with how you feel when you look in the mirror, it can infiltrate every part of life.
This is because low self-esteem and overthinking often go hand-in-hand, with endless thoughts relating to not being good enough, not achieving enough, or not being loveable.
Rather than placing all of the focus on overthinking, try putting the spotlight on nurturing the roots of self-esteem which will in turn have a knock-on effect to dial down rumination.
You can do this in a variety of ways, from learning to be kinder to yourself, shaking off some of your people-pleasing tendencies by saying ‘no’ more, and practicing affirmations.
Affirmations can feel strange, saying ‘I am good enough’ when you don’t feel you are, but it is more about changing the story you tell yourself rather than saying random statements aloud.
Power of Positivity say it best when they say: “Everyone tells themselves a story about who they are; ‘I’m just an average guy’, ‘I’m not much of a patient person’, ‘I’ve never been good at that’. But these stories become your reality in the way of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“Instead of repeatedly telling yourself stories that degrade you or remind you of perceived weaknesses, remind yourself about your capabilities; ‘I’ve overcome every problem I’ve ever faced’ or ‘I’m much stronger than I give myself credit for’.”
4) Manage stress
Ha! This might sound laughable if you’ve got a demanding boss, screaming toddlers, argumentative teens, terminally ill parents, struggle for money, or any other myriad of problems that life presents.
While humans are able to cope with elements of anxiety, and we have a whole stress response system in our DNA, when we overthink we put additional stress on ourselves.
This additional stress plays havoc with our physiology, releasing more stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and over time can lead to serious health issues and even disease.
The good news is, with stress management, you can prevent overthinking and welcome more zen.
To achieve this, you’ll likely be familiar with key advice that is usually given about exercise, sleep, and nutrition, but did you know just stepping out the front door can help too?
The Power of Positivity squad say: “Just walking in a park for five minutes can be a relief to your central nervous system. Research has shown that the brain relaxes and becomes cognitively sharper after spending a little time getting back to basics with greenery.
“If you can’t quickly get to a place filled with nature, consider buying a plant (or a few) to decorate your space with, whether that’s your home space or working space. You can also play nature-themed ambient sounds to calm yourself down when the overthinking starts.”
As they say, life is a balance of holding on and letting go.
For the full article, click here: Power of Positivity.