They say that the greatest ability of human beings is their power to think. We can use this power to have a perspective about the future, to evaluate our current circumstances and to make decisions for our benefit. However, there are times when this very power becomes a curse. It’s called overthinking and is characterised by too many thoughts about something for a prolonged period of time.
It often ends up draining us mentally and the fear that takes over reduces our ability to make sound decisions. Moreover, it has the possibility to cause damage to your mental health. All these consequences are just not worth overthinking, right? But, for someone who tends to overthink a lot, this is far easier said than done.
So we talked to Kamna Chhibber, head of department, Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram to help us understand how to stop overthinking. She suggests three important steps to follow when too many thoughts are crowding your mind:
1. Get back to the present moment
An important aspect of why we tend to overthink is our preoccupation with the past or the future, says Kamna. When you start worrying about these, you move your focus away from the present. You need to remind yourself that what has happened cannot be changed and no one can say what will happen. However, focusing on these two will definitely affect your present as you give it little to no attention.
You need to only concentrate on what is happening in life currently. Be thankful for what you have and work towards problems you might be facing. This will make you feel grounded in reality instead of worrying over time periods that you shouldn’t waste energy mulling over.
2. Shift your focus on the task at hand
According to Kamna, it is extremely important to concentrate on the tasks you’re busy with whenever your brain goes down the road of overthinking.
For example, if you’re worried about whether you’ll be getting a promotion or not, it is best to analyse what you need to do for that professional growth instead of stressing over it. Remind yourself that if you’re so focused on the outcome, you’re keeping yourself away from developing the skills and work experience needed to ask for that promotion. Hence, you should shift your focus from worrying about ‘what will happen’ to ‘how do I turn this situation to suit me?’
3. Remind yourself that you have control over the situation
Overthinking has a lot to do with feeling like you have no control over aspects of your own life. While there is no way of stopping such thoughts from springing up in your mind, especially at times when you’re extremely vulnerable, you need to make an effort towards managing these thoughts.
Kamna mentions that this will help you remain positive and help you find a practical solution to the problems at hand. You have to understand that you can work in a way that allows you to have some say in how things turn out but you won’t be able to do that if you overthink.
Follow these steps to manage your thoughts and put an end to your overthinking.