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How to Stop Overthinking and Tame That Brain

SOS Team Aug 5, 2019

Overthinking is the worst. And in a world of crazy stress and constant distractions, it’s more common than ever.

Most of us can relate to so-called “monkey mind” when our thoughts are racing and we’re totally overwhelmed with random worries!

  • I’ll never make that work deadline!
  • If I don’t get some sleep tonight I’ll go nuts!
  • Why am I still single at my age? I’ll be alone forever!

There are million-and-one scenarios that can trigger overthinking — and usually, they’re the exact things we don’t want to be thinking about!

Let’s face it: we’re not usually dwelling on all the awesome things happening in our lives. Instead, we’re obsessing about what’s wrong — or what could go wrong.

When that wave of worry hits, it takes us out of the moment and into a negative spiral and we start to feel completely crappy.

Why Overthinking Is Toxic

Overthinking is bad news for our brains, bodies, and behavior.

When we’re overthinking, we’re replaying stressful situations in our heads over and over again, triggering our brains to release chemicals like cortisol (also called “the stress hormone”).

Too much cortisol in our bodies can cause premature aging, anxiety, depression, sleep, and digestive issues, and increase our risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative disorders. Talk about bad news!

It’s hard to embrace the magic of life and cultivate gratitude when you’re doing damage to your body and brain by obsessing about things you can’t control.

The Two Types of Overthinking

There are two types of overthinking: ruminating and worrying.

Ruminating involves re-living painful stuff or stressful situations that happened to you in the past. It’s like a time machine that takes you back to stuff you’d rather avoid.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves stressing about the future and playing out all the awful stuff that could potentially happen (the vast majority of which never, ever does).

In the iconic words of Mark Twain: “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

How to Stop Overthinking

Now that you know why overthinking is one of the worst habits ever, let’s talk about how you can overcome it and train yourself into a more empowering state of mind.

how_stop_overthinking

The good news is, overthinking is just old news!

Thanks to neuroplasticity, you can actually change the way your brain works, create new neural networks, and stop the overactive stress response.

Isn’t the human body AMAZING? Seriously — who knew you could consciously change the way your grey matter works?!

With that in mind, here are five ways to move away from overthinking and start living more in the moment:

1. Pay attention to your thoughts.

A lot of the time, our brains tend to be on autopilot. We start a loop of repetitive thinking and lose track of what we’re doing.

When we’re lost in that negative spiral, we’re not aware of what’s happening in our brains and bodies. Stress takes over, we tense up, cortisol goes crazy, and before we know it we feel terrible.

But we can turn it around much more quickly by starting to pay attention to our thoughts. As soon as we become more aware of the state of our minds — and bodies — the easier it is to make changes.

Set a goal for yourself to check in on your state of mind five or ten times a day — or even once an hour (add reminders to your phone if you forget).

If you check-in and notice that you’re not feeling well or are caught in a tailspin of thoughts, take one of the following actions to turn it around.

2. Meditate. Every chance you get!

Meditation is a key ingredient for tackling chronic stress, boosting positive brain chemicals, and changing your behavior for the better! There’s literally nothing else you can do in five minutes a day that will work such major miracles in your life.

SOS Method Concept Meditations are like no other meditation experience. They’ll whisk you out of the stressful moment and into soothing relief, adventure, and inspiration!

SOS Method Concept Meditations will take you on a journey to a new world where overthinking slows down, everything around you disappears, and your old thoughts just don’t have the same power over you.

Anytime you start to overthink, choose a meditation and press play. No need to do anything or try to control your brain; your only job is to listen. You’ll be instantly immersed in a new world. Sit back and bask in wonder, delight, and relaxation.

3. Create positive responses to your repetitive thoughts.

Thoughts get the best of us when we don’t have a way to argue with them.

But most of what’s barreling through our brain is the same stuff we’ve been thinking for years and years. And most of the time, negative thoughts are lies.

Often, we blindly believe negative stuff we heard in childhood or ages ago. We loop the same thoughts so many times that they become beliefs. But plenty of beliefs are pure fiction.

To beat these disempowering, false thoughts, we need to create an arsenal of positive responses to replace them!

Next time you have 15 or 20 minutes of free time, sit down and write out a list of the standard negative thoughts that get the best of you. Then, come up with positive responses. Make sure they’re loving, kind, and believable for you.

Here are a few examples:

Thought: “I’m not good enough.”

Response: “Who says I’m not good enough? I’m an awesome human who’s deserving of love and happiness.”

Thought: “I’ll never be successful.”

Response: “I’ve come a long way in life. Just think of all the things I’ve overcome, and everything I’ve accomplished!”

Thought: “No one loves me.”

Response: “The most important thing is that I love and accept myself, and I’m working on that every day.”

Once you memorize these responses and start talking back to that negative chatter, you’ll be amazed at how much more empowered and alive you feel!

You can also do the Confidence and Self Esteem Program. In it, SOS Method founder and Mental Health Expert Marlise Karlin share a special tool/tip for overthinking.

Each time a negative thought appears, become aware of it and replace it with “Thank you, I love you.” Keep repeating these words until the negatives thoughts just dissipate. You’ll be giggling in no time!

4. Take action.

Nothing interferes with overthinking like actually DOING something. Sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves is the worst.

Action overcomes inertia, and when your thoughts are running wild, get going with some kind of step in the right direction.

Do something physical like taking a walk; do a good deed for someone else, or spend some time on one of your favorite hobbies.

The key is to DO something. Anything positive, really!

5. Think about something else.

Easier said than done, we know!

But try writing up a “Happiness Touchstone” list. Think of it as a list of your favorite things — things that make you happy as soon as you think about them. It could be favorite memories, your beloved pet, inspiring quotes, or hobbies you adore.

Have the shortlist on hand, and anytime you catch yourself overthinking, look at the list and start thinking about the things you love.

Just start daydreaming and your brain will be firing feel-good chemicals in no time.

Train That Brain!

Remember, you can overcome overthinking.

If you’re dealing with it on the daily, you’re not sentenced to a lifetime of misery. You can train your brain and create new neural networks that inspire you into positivity, empowerment, and joy!

To get started, try a few of our favorite SOS Method meditations. Each will take you on a unique and blissful journey — and who couldn’t use a little brain vacation? 😉

Ease & Comfort

The Sweet Spot

I Believe

Happy for No Reason

Painting Life’s Canvas

Are there any other strategies you use to overcome overthinking? Share your favorite brain training tips with us on social media!