Photography by – Jide JJ Smith
So as the title may suggest, I over think pretty much every situation I’m faced with – every single day. It’s not always been the case but certainly within the past few years I can’t seem to control it. With any conversation, situation or event that I know or think will happen at some point, I will think through every possible outcome for that scenario. Literally from the normal to the obscene. Conversations will be had in my head constantly, planning my replies, structuring my arguments, everything. I’m not sure why I do it but I do and it’s exhausting and sometimes it all becomes too much. My mind won’t turn off and I’ll be laid in bed going through the same thought over and over again until I eventually fall asleep. It’s like a hamster wheel, being stuck in a constant loop that ends up solving nothing and is just highly unhelpful.
Recently I read an article in Glamour magazine (my holy grail of magazines) which had tips on how to tackle being an over thinker. I’ve been doing them for the past few days along with a few of my own tried and tested techniques and have found they’ve really helped unclog that head of mine and change my mindset.
Tip one – The morning pages
So this is a technique used by business executives and productivity experts around the world to declutter the mind at the start of the day. When you wake up each morning, take a notepad and without stopping write down everything thats in your head. The average amount is three pages, a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t have to make sense, just keep writing. Getting all your thoughts out, from the inane to the serious, it with help stop persistent thoughts taking hold by processing them physically.
Tip two – Three questions
This one has helped me no end! When you are thinking or like me over thinking a certain situation or conversation and you constantly keep going over it – What if they say that? What if they say this? How will they react? How will I respond?….aghhhhhhhh literally, it goes on and on and on. Well I’ve now excepted its natural to want to anticipate outcomes but a little structure can help move these thoughts along. Simply divide these thoughts into three questions: Whats the best outcome? Whats the worst outcome? Whats the most realistic outcome? Honestly I can’t tell you how much time and overthinking this has saved me. It helps balance the options quickly and rationally and move on.
Tip three – Headspace
If you’re regular reader of the blog you may remember my previous blog post on the wonderful Headspace meditation app. Mediatation can have such a huge impact on your day to day happiness. For me in regards to over thinking, the overall difference is that it stops my brain over processing information as actively as it normally would. It helps me focus and sets me up right for the day ahead with a clear, positive mind.
Tip four – Exercise
Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for the body. But exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. It can have a profound impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. For me it helps clear my head, relieve stress and boost my overall mood. It’s only within the last year that I’ve really started enjoying going to the gym and working out. The adrenaline I feel after completing a class puts me in such a great frame of mind and gives me an enormous sense of well-being. I feel more energy throughout the day and sleep better at night, as well as feeling more relaxed. Exercise is a natural anti-anxiety treatment, it relieves tension and stress and releases endorphins. It helps focus my mind and stops me yet again going through the same old questions and situations in my head.
Tip five – Breathing
Seems obvious right? Well you’d be surprised how much controlled breathing techniques can really help those over thinking tendencies. Breathing will relax you, calm you, connect you and keep you in the present moment. Our minds love racing to bad places making us become manic and frantic, but with simple breathing techniques this is easily changed. The breathing technique that works for me involves lying down and taking a two-second long deep inhalation in through the nose, followed by a four-second long exhalation out through the mouth. It sounds so simple but it really helps. I do this for 10 minutes or until my excessive thinking slows down.
So if like me you’re constantly analysing everything you do or indeed are thinking of doing, try these tips and hopefully they’ll help you too.
I’m always looking for advice and tips on this so if you have any you swear by, send them my way!