- Mental Health»
- Stress Management
How to Calm Down and Stop Over-Thinking
Where does over-thinking start?
When dealing with peculiar or simply grand situations, people tend to dissect them into teeny tiny pieces and over-analyze everything. I generally call this over-thinking. The situation could be anything from an amazing job opportunity to career choices to a hug from your crush. Anything that sweeps you off your feet, really.
The over-thinking process starts, reasonably, with you rationally thinking over what has happened and what the best course of action could be. Things generally get out of control at the "best course of action" part. When you get to that part all your fear and insecurities start to kick in. It could look like this:
OMG, I cannot believe that he HUGGED me!
That was so awesome! It felt so good! Gosh, I want to hug him again!
But is he going to hug me again? Or is it just a one-time thing?
Maybe it's just an exception or something. Or he sees me as a friend.
Well, he is always nice, so maybe he likes me.
But he is nice to everyone!
But he is mostly nice to me...
Is he, really? Or is it just wishful thinking?
Maybe he is nice out of politeness. He is an awesome guy, after all.
Or maybe he likes me.
And this goes on and on until the said situation is encountered again and things get clarified.
It's important to know where over-thinking starts so that you will be able to understand where it comes from. So, if you have a specific situation in mind, stop for a bit and try to find out where you start over-thinking things.
Now you know where the whole process starts, so it is much easier for you to realize when you start to go off the rails. If you can see it coming you have a much better chance at stopping it before it even begins. It's like fighting with someone you cannot see. Once you can see them, it gets much easier to at least dodge their attacks.
But how can you actually stop it? Well, after you've figured out where it is that you're drifting off, shut up your mind just a bit up the stream. Cut off your thoughts by imagining a blank, white canvas, then start painting on it things that you like. It could be a green meadow, a beach, a valley in the mountains, a squirrel climbing up a pine somewhere in the middle of the forest. It could be a smell that you like, such as lavender, vanilla, freshly mowed grass, summer, winter, rain, the list can go on and on. The idea is, anything that you love you can paint on this canvas. It doesn't have to be a picture. It could be anything, anything at all. Perhaps a moment when you felt calm and safe. Anything that you love will do. It's okay if you end up thinking of something completely unrelated. The idea is to get distracted from your own mental ranting.
Once you feel calm and back into your usual environment, go back to your situation and (here comes the hard part) without losing your calm try to think of a reasonable way to act. Anytime you feel like you're going crazy, pick up a new canvas and start painting. It will be hard to keep yourself calm for long at first, but after practicing it you should get better.
If you have better discipline over your thoughts, then you may want to skip the whole canvas part, unless you are particularly fond of it. If you decide to skip it, then just breathe in deeply, think of an usual object (a cup, for example) and try to picture yourself as seen from someone else's perspective. Someone whom you don't know, but someone who would happen to step into the room just then and see you. That ought to bring some perspective into how much bigger you are making this issue. Once you see that, it should be easy for you to think of a reasonable way to act in response to the situation that is freaking you out.
Keeping over-thinking away for good
The problem with the solution that I have presented above is that it is a temporary fix and it doesn't help with the issue that's on the inside, it only helps the symptoms.
I mentioned in the beginning that over-thinking starts because of fears and insecurities that we all have. So, in order to make it stop for good, boost your confidence levels, it's that easy. Since that is a topic in and of itself, I am going to give you a helpful links to hubs that inspired me:
I found these two hubs extremely helpful, and I think you will, too.
Although, even the most confident people meet situations which they will over-think and panic about. If it still happens to you, keep trying to fight it off, you're going to get better and better at it. Remember, practice makes perfect.