Back in the day when my anxiety was at its worst, I thought I was the only person in the world who was constantly feeling sucked under by negative and scary thoughts that cycled into even more thoughts upon thoughts upon thoughts. I had no idea that these thoughts were nothing more than my brain running away with itself and I certainly didn't know that anyone else had this problem. One of the greatest gifts I have received since learning about and helping people with anxiety is knowing I was never alone. There are countless people experiencing what I did and I learn more every time I help them work through their anxious thoughts how "normal" this experience is for so many of us who wrestle with accepting anxiety as part of life.
YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO TELL BUT I WAS IN MONTH 4
OF BIG TIME POST PARTUM ANXIETY IN THIS PICTURE.
One of the most common questions I am asked is, "How can I stop thinking so much?" Exhausted, frustrated, and nearly hopeless, these anxious thoughts may keep you awake at night and on high alert all day. They pop in seemingly out of nowhere. They cause you to hyper focus, but on the other hand, have no focus at all on what requires your attention. Truly, they can be the hardest part of living with anxiety for many people, myself included.
So how can you quiet your brain and manage the thoughts that feel so out of control?
Or rather, CAN you?
Of course the answer is YES - I wouldn't write this if it wasn't possible.
I'm not here to drag you down.
5 ways you can stop overthinking.
1. Pay attention to what grabs your attention.
When you notice your brain wandering over to "the dark side," call it out.
Give it the, "Whoa, Nelly."
Put on the brakes!
A thought is ONLY a thought and nothing more; after all, you have around 60,000 of them a day. Instead of giving energy to this thought, try giving a shrug and saying whatever.
2. Notice when you are stuck in your head!
Overthinking can become a bad habit that leads you to increased physical anxiety symptoms... which will lead you to more thinking, then more symptoms, and on... and on... and on...
Shift your focus to the present moment using a grounding technique such as 5-5-7 breathing or using your 5 senses to notice things you can see, smell, hear, touch, or smell. You can get instructions and more ways to bring you into the present moment by clicking the button below.
3. Schedule time to "worry".
Giving yourself a few minutes of time to reflect on what you're worrying about each day allows you time to deal with scary or negative thoughts without allowing them to take up your entire day. Gently remind yourself when those thoughts come back into mind that you have worry-time later. Refocus on what you're supposed to be thinking about.
If I've said it once, I've said it 10,000 times. There is something magical and powerful about journaling. You don't have to know what to write, to edit, or to proofread. In fact, I've found it's better when I have no idea what I'm writing until I finish and go back. Incredible things have spilled out of this brain when I mindlessly journal in a mad writing tangent.
Doodling and colored pens are boneses!
5. Come up with at least 2 positives or truths for every negative or scary thought.
If you're freaking out over scary health symptoms (my specialty), give yourself two proofs you're healthy or overthinking.
If you're stuck considering a past mistake, remind yourself it's in the past and come up with something you learned from the mistake.
If you're being critical of yourself, give yourself 4 compliments.
My friend, you have the power to choose your thoughts and you do not have to, nor should you, believe everything that pops into your head! You brain processes over 60,000 thoughts a day and you choose to let the vast majority go. It's those sticky ones that cause your body to react that hang around.
If it feels difficult, nothing has gone wrong. Anxiety is sneaky and efficient. Learning to let thoughts go and find the truth takes time and intention. Click the button above to schedule time to talk about how we might work together and find out why that negative though is being such a sticking point for you. You'll walk away with amazing insight on what you want to think instead, and have at least one great idea how you can take control of your anxious thoughts right away. It is incredibly powerful and eye opening!
I hope you'll remember this week how powerful you are and how changing your thoughts to focus on what you want instead of what you fear can completely flip your life around in the best ways. As always, I'm right here to help you get to where you want to go and to answer your questions.