Have you ever gone to text your crush, but your fingers just hovered over the screen, while you stared blankly, uncertain of whether you should take the leap and reach out?
Has your brain taken control during a long-awaited intimate moment, and you ended up “forgetting” to enjoy sex?
It’s really difficult to put yourself out there on a date, in the bedroom, at your workplace, or wherever you find yourself feeling vulnerable because of overthinking.
So many women are chronic overthinkers, and it makes perfect sense. To be frank, overthinking is a defense mechanism. Overthinking is a deep concern of how others will perceive you, and the impending results of that perception. Women are taught that reputation is everything, and even if you don’t prescribe to that belief, it’s probably still ingrained in you somewhere.
So, contrary to what your friend—who’s probably a man—said, it’s not as simple as, “just stop overthinking!” Too much overthinking can be detrimental to your daily productivity and overall mental health. If you want to break the monotonous cycle of this learned behavior, here’s how you can teach yourself to stop overthinking.
1. Understand The Opposite Of Overthinking
The opposite of overthinking is being present. When you’re present, you’re fully available to your surroundings. You’re able to make decisions based on what others need and also what your own gut is telling you. When you’re not overthinking, you feel ready to take action.
When was the last time you felt fully present? You might not remember, and that’s okay. There are actionable steps you can take to get out of your mind.
2. Weigh Your Choices
Overthinkers treat every decision like it’s the most important, which can get very overwhelming! Be honest about what decisions are big enough to warrant feeling stressed about.
Where do you really need to put your thought and effort? What needs to be done thoroughly and what can wait? Write it down if that helps you. That way you can see where exactly you need to put your priorities. Eventually you’ll learn not to sweat the small stuff.
3. Do Something Physical
The best way to get out of your mind is to get into your body. Go for a run, take a dance class, or just do five jumping jacks when you catch yourself overthinking. Physical activity forces you to be present and in the moment. It gets you out of your head, even if it’s just for a moment.
Moving your body can also release endorphins, making you feel better about what you have on your plate. It’s okay to take five minutes to clear your head with a walk around the block. Your physical activity can be as long or as short, as strenuous or gentle as you want/need. Explore what’s right for you.
4. Practice Mindfulness
When you meditate, you focus on your breath, and clear your head. Overthinkers can really benefit from guided meditation, because you have to turn your brain off and listen.
Actively listening requires you to focus on something outside of yourself. When you know your brain is down the rabbit hole, find somewhere quiet, and just listen to your breath for five minutes.
5. Name It
Identifying the problem is half the battle. So, when you feel yourself overthinking, say it out loud. When you’re in your head, say to yourself, “I’m in my head.” This way, you’ll begin to recognize your patterns of overthinking.
Identifying what makes you overthink can help you figure out a plan of action to reverse it.
6. Practice Acting On Positive Thoughts
From a young age, you were taught not to follow your impulses in order to fit into polite society. You learn to audit yourself constantly, which can be detrimental if you become an overthinker.
To break that habit, practice acting on your positive thoughts. If you think, “I’d rather be standing right now.” Stand up. If you think, “that person is super cute.” Talk to them. Not all decisions are dangerous. Impulses aren’t always bad. Listen to your heart and your body to see where it takes you. The stakes might not be as high as you think.
With practice, you can learn how to stop overthinking. Patience with yourself is key. You’re undoing years of learned behavior, and that doesn’t just vanish overnight. Play with ways to be present. Being out of your own head can be radically joyful.