What if I said the wrong thing? How will I ever finish the assignment in time? Why aren't they responding to my text? Thoughts like these make us human, says Julie Pike, a clinical psychologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“That’s what the brain is designed to do – to think our way out of problems and away from predators,” she says.
1. Catch yourself.You can’t stop overthinking if you don’t realize you’re doing it – and very often, people don’t, says Pike, who specializes in treating anxiety disorders.
2. Observe rather than chastise.One such tool is calling out your thoughts as just that – thoughts. For instance, turn "I'm a bad parent" into, “I notice I’m thinking I’m a bad parent.”
3. Validate, then act.“Many people who suffer from anxiety suffer in silence alone, because they recognize that their concerns may be unreasonable but they just cannot turn them off,” Rasyidi adds.
4. Set a deadline.Overthinking is like a book with no periods, paragraphs or chapters – it doesn't know when to stop, says Sapadin, author of the book “Overcoming Your Procrastination: Advice for 6 Personality Styles.” It's up to you to set those boundaries.
5. Turn to tunes.Speaking of records, listening to a song you like is one of the best ways to move your mind along, Sapadin says. Just like any creative endeavor you enjoy, “music taps a different part of the brain,” she says.
6. Repeat the thought.If you’re afraid of, say, elevators, a psychologist may encourage you to approach, enter and eventually ride them until they’re no longer threatening. You can do the same thing with a thought, Pike says.