Mental health and well-being can be affected by constant worrying and over thinking. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, self-compassion, and asking for help from a healthcare professional can help alleviate the stress of over thinking.

You have a few moments to yourself, but then you start wondering if you overestimated your chances of getting the promotion or if you forgot to send the thank-you email.

Sound familiar? Worrying and overthinking are part of the human experience, but when left unchecked, they can take a toll on your well-being. Dwelling on the same thoughts may even increase your risk of certain mental health conditions, according to 2021 research.

What is an over thinking person to do? These tips can help you get there.

The way you respond to your thoughts can sometimes keep you in a cycle of rumination, or repetitive thinking. Rumination can often cause negative consequences to a person’s mental health.

Take note of how it affects your mood when you keep running things over in your mind. Do you feel guilty? What is the main emotion behind your thoughts?

Changing your mindset is dependent on having self-awareness.

If you enjoy an activity, you can stop thinking.

This looks different for everyone.

  • Learning some new kitchen skills by making a new recipe.
  • You will be going to your favorite workout class.
  • Taking up a new hobby.
  • volunteering with a local organization

It can be hard to start something new when you are overwhelmed by thoughts. If you can spare 30 minutes every other day, you can find a distraction. Use this time to explore potential distraction or to focus on existing ones.

You’ve heard it a million times, but that’s because it works. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning over your thoughts, close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Try it

Here is a good exercise to get you started.

  1. You can find a place to sit and relax.
  2. Place your hand over your heart.
  3. Paying attention to how your chest and stomach move as you breathe is what you should do.

Try to do this exercise 3 times a day for 5 minutes, or whenever you have racing thoughts.

Developing a regular meditation practice is an evidence-backed way to help clear your mind of nervous chatter by turning your attention inward.

You can do it in 5 minutes and a quiet spot.

How will the issues in your mind affect you in the future? Will anyone care that you bought a fruit plate for the event instead of baking a pie from scratch?

Minor issues should not turn into significant hurdles.

Trying to help someone else can help you see the bigger picture. Think of ways you can help someone through a difficult time.

Does your friend who is in the middle of a divorce need some child care? Can you pick up groceries for someone who has been sick?

Negative thoughts can be kept from taking over if you know you have the power to make someone better. It also gives you something to think about instead of thoughts.

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) refer to knee-jerk negative thoughts, usually involving fear or anger, you sometimes have in reaction to a situation.

Tackling ANTs

You can change your thoughts by keeping a record of them and doing so with active effort.

  • You can use a notebook to track the situation and how you are feeling.
  • You should evaluate why the situation is making you think negatively.
  • Break down the emotions you are feeling and try to identify what you are telling yourself.
  • You can find an alternative to your original thought. Instead of jumping straight to, try something along the lines of, “I\’m genuinely trying my best.”

When you are in the midst of thinking, take out your phone and notebook. Take a look at five things that have gone right over the past week.

“These don’t need to be huge achievements. Maybe you cleaned out your car or stuck to your coffee budget. You might be surprised at how much it adds up when you look at it on paper or screen.”

Refer to this list when you find your thoughts are getting out of hand.

Not ready to meditate? There are many ways to ground yourself in the present moment.

Be here now

There are a few ideas.

  • Unplug. Shut off your computer or phone for a designated amount of time each day, and spend that time on a single activity.
  • Eat mindfully. Treat yourself to one of your favorite meals. Try to find the joy in each bite, and really focus on how the food tastes, smells, and feels in your mouth.
  • Get outside. Take a walk outside, even if it’s just a quick lap around the block. Take inventory of what you see along the way, noting any smells that waft by or sounds you hear.

Sometimes, you need to step outside of your usual perspective. Your life experiences, values, and assumptions are what shape the world you see. It is possible to see things from a different point of view.

Jot down some of the thoughts swirling around in your head. Try to investigate how valid each one is. For example, maybe you’re stressing about an upcoming trip because you just know it’s going to be a disaster. But is that really what’s going to happen? What kind of proof do you have to back that up?

“Sometimes, you might think about the same thing over and over, even though you aren’t taking any concrete actions.”

Can you not think about someone you envy? Let your feelings help you make better choices.

When you are visited by the green-eyed monster, be proactive and write down ways you can reach your goals. This will allow you to channel your energy into taking action.

Dwelling on past mistakes keeps you from letting go. If you’re beating yourself up over something you did last week, try refocusing on self-compassion.

There are a few ways to start.

  • Take a moment to think about a thought.
  • Pay attention to the bodily responses that arise.
  • Accept that your feelings are true at the moment.
  • You can say “may I accept myself as I am” or “I am enough”

Some things will always be out of your control. Learning how to accept this can go a long way toward curbing overthinking. One study from 2018 shows that accepting negative thoughts and fears can help improve psychological health.

“It won’t happen overnight, but it is easier said than done. You can confront situations you worry about if you look for small opportunities. Maybe it is standing up to a bossy co-worker or taking a solo day trip.”

“You don’t have to go it alone. If you want to change your mindset, seek help from a qualified therapist.”

Our guide to affordable therapy can help you start.