Stop Overthinking! Get Rid Of Physical And Mental Stress

I will admit I have been called an overthinker more than once. Alright, many times more than once. This is why I am writing this. It will save you from having to do all the research I did. Yes I overthink. I have conquered half the battle now though because I know I am an overthinker. Thinking is smart. Overthinking everything, not so much. Especially obsessively overthinking worst case scenarios. Do you think you may overthink things?

Take this 6 question test! Do you…

1 dwell on past situations
2 second guess everything, some things, past decisions?
3 replay past uncomfortable conversations you have had?
4 rehash old mistakes?
5 imagine the worst case scenario and outcomes of everything?
6 try to change the things you can’t possibly control, change and fix?

If you said yes to one question you are a borderline overthinker. 2-4 yeses makes you an overthinker. Did you answer yes to all of them? Bing bing bing! Join the overthinkers club!

So you have identified overthinking.

The thing is when I was stuck in the role of overthinking I was the last person to know. Friends would (still do at times!) sigh and say ‘Stop overthinking it!’ to get me back to earth. Overthinking, having obsessive thoughts, is such a habit that unless you train yourself as I have you may not even know you are doing this.

Now what?

Train yourself to recognize when you are overthinking. Notice when you are stuck in your head. A good tip off is if the decision you are trying to make is taking so long you procrastinate deciding. Challenge yourself! When you start down that downward spiral of worst case scenarios etc. bring your attention back to the problem you are trying to solve. Focus on solving the problem.

There is nothing you can do about the past

You can try a million and one times to change the outcome of the past. Please stop. This cannot be done or undone. Period. You need to change the channel. I grab the puppies and go for a walk! A friend once told me ‘Move a muscle, change a thought.’ It works!

I have so many things I love to do that when I am stuck on one thing I can take a break and at least see progress in another area. When I think back at some of the things I was overthinking it makes me laugh now. An example might be when shopping on line I see a pair of shoes I love. The shoes are shown to be in my size but not the color I want. I can’t tell you how many days, in the past, I would leave that screen, device or laptop open trying to decide if I should buy the color available. Should I click on buy? I finally realized I could wait a week and the color I want still won’t be there. Plus I really don’t even need any shoes!

Overthinking can cause health problems

There are so many things today out there to rob us of our peace of mind. Why let overthinking contribute too.
We very well know that stress leads to all sorts of negative health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart issues and high cholesterol. If I can enhance my peace of mind by recognizing and addressing overthinking count me in!

Overthinking is often the cause of sleep issues

Who doesn’t love a great night’s sleep! If you are an overthinker you probably don’t know how to shut it off. Overthinking is definitely a deal breaker for a good nights sleep. Not only will you lose a nights sleep you will wake up grumpy like Uncle Horace and feel cranky all day. This will, I promise, lead to an inability to focus on your work which will decrease your productivity. Not to mention you feel tired the next day.

Learn how to shut it off when you get into bed. My secret sauce is to get involved in a good book that I look forward to reading as the thing I do before I kiss my pups good night and shut out the light. Scrolling through Facebook will not, I repeat, will not shut off the overthinking. Reading a great book will for me for sure!

Overthinking causes stress

When I was a rampant overthinker I never realized this too was responsible for my high level of stress. It makes sense to me now though, knowing what I have learned. Our levels of cortisol increase with the more stress we have. Cortisol is the stress hormone that regulates a lot of our bodies functions.

I learned a lot about the effects of too high cortisol levels. Prolonged increase in the cortisol levels can cause immune deficiencies. This makes us more exposed to allergies and diseases. Years and years of high stress has left me with a funky, not great immune system. I learned the hard way. Now that I know better, I need to do better. .

Overthinking effects our digestive system

Dr Narayan Gadkar, Cardiologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital says “If you are stressed due to overthinking, you may not eat or overeat. Both habits are harmful to your health.” Stress decreases the amount of blood flow and oxygen to the stomach this in turn may lead to gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Are you ready to stop overthinking?

Listen, if I can break free from this business of overthinking you can too! I find it interesting when I consider some of the things I overthought. People actually buy cars on line without even sitting in the car. This is some hard core quick decision making! I used to overthink the dumbest stuff!

OMG! How about the time I didn’t have the guts to buy a plum color couch? Oh boy did I overthink that to death. I went back and forth in my head everyday til the boring brown couch was made and delivered! This still haunted me even after the brown couch finally got delivered. I laugh at this now because I learned a big lesson from this experience and it got me one step closer to becoming a recovering overthinker.

Try these tips!

Distract yourself. I more or less make a living as an artist and have plenty to distract me when I need distracting. If you are experiencing negative thinking and overthinking it is time for a break. Find a hobby! Take a walk. Like my friends Mom used to tell her ‘Move a muscle, change a thought’. This works so well!

Listen to music if this is your thing. There are great podcasts now in every subject imaginable.

If you feel better ‘spewing’ pick up the phone and ask a friend to listen. This is way more effective than texting or posting your whine on Facebook. A trouble shared really is a trouble cut in half.

Let Go of the past

Please stop worrying about the past. This is something that cannot be changed. Whatever the case may be, accept it and move on. You may be perfectly willing to let go of the past and not know how to. It is okay to need help to be rid of the past.

Living in the present is not possible with one foot in the past. Some people unfortunately have horrific pasts. For this very reason it is recommended to seek professional help. Some pasts are just too horrendous to look at alone. Please seek medical help. You deserve it!

Breathing is my favorite exercise to distract myself

woman breathing

I taught myself how to breathe properly by taking this test the New York Times offered. What a difference! Here is the breathing exercise I do when I am stressed, frustrated or just need a break:

I breathe in and out to 8 counts. Specifically this means
1 breath in and 1 breath out equalling 16 counts or seconds

I do this as many times as it takes. Sometimes 3 times, other times more. I literally feel myself calming. I love breathing these long breaths.

In addition to breathing I am counting which is meditative and stopping the other thoughts from assaulting me. It feels really good. Breathe 8 counts in, breathe 8 counts out.

An experienced practitioner of Yoga and Pilates will tell you there are more steps to take to enhance breathing. It would be worthwhile to look into this especially if you are a Type A personality like me. You can practice while sitting in traffic overthinking!

Write out what you are overthinking about

Will it help you to write out the pros and cons of whatever you are overthinking about?
I am big fan of writing because I know beyond a doubt we all have the answers we need inside of us. Some of us simply lack the confidence to notice the answer when we see it. I have guided many many groups of women in writing groups.

Stay in the present

When you find yourself going in circles try doing what I do. I say STOP out loud and physically stop AND breath. 8 counts in, 8 counts out.

Progress not perfection

I see myself as a work in progress. Sure it is okay to strive for perfection. I have no plans to get there though because there is always something I can do better. Please go easy on yourself. Beating on yourself with words of self deprecation are counter productive. Make finding and changing your short comings a long term thing. Baby steps.

Writing is a great tool to unearth all of this stuff. Once the words are written on the page you can look for ways to make small changes. This is the best way I know of to enjoy the journey. One other thing I will admit to you. I wake up just giddy with delight in the morning because I have no idea what the day has in store for me!

Some days are definitely better than others! First thing in the morning is always the same though, I can’t wait to see what the day brings.

Marj pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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