I was listening to a podcast recently called “How to Stop Overthinking Things”, which was basically made for me. It came at the perfect time, too, because I was actually right in the middle of overthinking something, and this podcast saved me.
There were two tips in particular which I found most helpful:
1) Stop thinking and start writing.
I’ve heard this before, but I keep forgetting how helpful it really is. I’m the kind of person who has to get everything out, but usually it’s in the form of verbally venting to Ben. Poor Ben. He doesn’t need to hear all of that. Writing it out helps me to get it out into the world, without the world having to deal with it. I’ve actually avoided journalling for years, though, because it depresses me to have a bunch of beautiful journals filled with my lowest moments. So I’ve recently started something we’ll call “Dump and Junk” – dump it all out on paper, and then throw it away.
I have many gratitude journals that I will keep forever, because those are filled with beautiful thoughts and memories which make me very happy, but when venting thoughts, there is no need to hang onto those.
2) Give yourself a time limit.
Chalene Johnson shared how she gives herself half a day to think about something. No more. After that half day, it’s time to stop thinking and move on. It will only get you into a negative spiral if you let it go longer.
This was exactly what I needed to hear in my current episode of overthinking, because I was stuck deep in the muck of nothing useful. I had made a big mistake a few days before, and although I’d apologized, and I’d prayed through the whole thing and knew God had forgiven me, I couldn’t forgive myself. I kept going over and over it in my head, beating myself up for not knowing better.
There were some very helpful moments of realization at a few points along the way, and I feel like I learned some valuable lessons, but I had moved past anything helpful, and was just dwelling on it in an unhealthy way.
When I listened to the podcast, the time limit hit home for me. Take the lessons, and move on. Be okay with making a mistake, and try again next time. If I get too bogged down by one mistake, I’m not focusing on the fact that I’ll have another chance to do better in the future.
Of course, the thoughts wanted to come creeping back in, but I kept telling myself, “Time’s up! I’m done with that, and I’ll do better next time.”
I feel like it’s giving me permission to be a work in progress, and sets some useful boundaries.
Do you have any strategies to stop overthinking?