A life-long habit of overthinking cost me not only my peace of mind; it also fueled my chronic pain, anxiety, perfectionism, and my alcohol and drug abuse.
Even after getting sober and working a rigorous recovery program, I still had a problem with overthinking.
Now, however, I have many powerful ways to calm my mind, and I rarely have anxiety or chronic pain.
You too can overcome your overthinking problem by simply using a few of my favorite tips!
DAILY HABITS TO CALM YOUR THINKING
Consistently using any of the practices below will bring stability to your mood and mind.
Practice Gratitude. List five things you’re grateful for. Do this every day for a week, without repeating any item.
Meditate and/or Pray. Use the free app, Insight Timer or other tools. Do this every day for at least 10 minutes. It shrinks the “worry center” of the brain.
Exercise, Walk, or Do Yoga. These are proven to increase positive brain chemicals and increase happiness.
Do Something Nice for Someone. Smile at a stranger, compliment a server, or send a friend a loving note.
Take Good Care of Yourself. Be sure you eat well and get enough rest. Especially important, drink plenty of water. Finally, don’t use food, alcohol or drugs to deal with stress.
Limit Negative Input. Give yourself permission to turn off negative TV or radio broadcasts. Avoid extended time with negative people.
Become Inspired. Listen to uplifting music or podcasts/radio. Read inspiring books or blogs. Watch a positive movie (for example, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Mr. Rogers).
TIPS TO TURN AROUND OVERTHINKING
Because we’re human, we can easily revert to incessant negative thoughts. When this happens, try a few of these tips to get unstuck.
Breathing. Pause, and then slowly breathe in goodness and breathe out the negativity. One easy method involves counting to five as you inhale, pausing, and then slowly breathing out to the count of five. For maximum benefit, repeat this cycle ten times.
Sharing. Talk with a healthy, supportive friend who has a positive attitude toward the world.
Writing. Write down your thoughts and feelings and ask yourself which ones are really true. Ask yourself, “Is this permanent? Is there another way to look at this?” Circle the ones you know are untrue and then “turn them around” as instructed in “The Work” by Byron Katie www.thework.com.
Choice. Remember that you have a choice about what fills your mind. Therefore, you’re not a victim of your thoughts. Overthinking and worry can always be replaced with positive, calming images and ideas.
Affirmations. Whenever you notice a thought that is scaring you, substitute a positive, loving thought. Importantly, keep doing that each time the worrying reappears. For instance, “I’ll never get this right” becomes “I am capable of succeeding and will do so.”
Self Compassion. Talk sweetly to yourself. For example, say to yourself exactly what you would say to comfort or encourage a loved one. For more helpful ideas, See Kristin Neff www.SelfCompassion.org.
Therapy. Therapy is extremely helpful, especially EMDR and Energy Tapping.
Sobriety. If you must have more than two regular-sized drinks a day, consider joining a program to quit. Don’t forget that marijuana also adds to negativity!
Turning around overthinking takes constant awareness and practice, but you’ll soon reap the benefits: a clearer mind, greater peace, happier relationships, and a general feeling of good will.
I did it, and so can you. Good luck!
Gigi Langer has been sober 35 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Florida with her husband, Peter and her cat Murphy.
My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now which describes how to reject the faulty thinking leading to addiction, dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, and worry about loved ones. Check out the practical directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (Buy Discounted Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)