There are different reasons people overthink. If your brain is bringing something or someone to your attention very often throughout your day, it’s for a good reason. Here are some examples of why we overthink and what to do about it…
If you compare your mind to your workspace and your current thought to the project you’d like to work on, then it’s easy to understand why you need to keep it “clean and clear.” When your work desk is covered in old paperwork and junk, it’s difficult to focus on your current project. In order for you to have clear focus, you need to clear everything that you do not need from your desk so that you can be as productive as possible.
Your mind works in the same way; when your mind is cluttered with a million thoughts, it’s very difficult to focus on one thing in particular. To-do lists, drama, and highly charged emotions are all examples of “mind clutter.”
If you find that this is the case with you, you need to learn how to clear the mind of its clutter.
A great way to do this is through meditation. Meditation is about focusing on one thing at a time (i.e. a thought, a feeling, or the sound of your breathing). Either way you do it, you learn to focus on that which you want to grow.
When you do this, your mind begins to sort out and release all the other thoughts that are bouncing around in your mind. You’ll notice this most obviously at the beginning of your meditation. Have you ever had those thoughts that come up and distract you from your meditation? That is your brain sorting out the chaos from the day/week/mind.
The more you fight this process and become frustrated with those thoughts popping up, the more chaos you create.
That is why the best way to meditate is to be in a state of allowance or observation. Allow the thoughts to come up, take a breath, and release them so that you can continue your focus.
If you’d like to try it out, try this guided meditation for relaxation below:
The mind can also overthink when there is not enough inspiring work to do on the workspace of the mind.
If you perceive your life to be boring, as a way to cope, the mind can sometimes fixate on one thing in particular to distract you from the boredom. To determine if this is the case for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Is your life fulfilling?
Do you wake up excited to start your day?
Are you inspired by your to-do list?
If not, then the antidote for this is to shake things up. Try something new. Change jobs. Make new friends. Get OUT of your comfort zone!
Another reason the mind will focus on one thought over and over again is because it is imbalanced. There is some sort of emotional trigger surrounding the event (or recurring thought) that needs to be resolved in order for it to be released. For example, if you’re angry at your sister for an argument that you had last week, you may dwell on the event in your mind because you have not released the anger.
Your mind is bringing up the thought so that you can release the emotion around the thought.
If this is the case for you, try journaling or talking to a friend or qualified practitioner that can help you identify and work through the emotion that you’re feeling.
Excess Mental Energy
We’re living in an age where so many of us do not get enough physical exercise but get an abundance of mental exercise every day. So we go to sleep for 8 hours, eat, and have enough energy to sustain the mind, but the body does not expend what it needs to in order to keep us in balance.
So we end up with too much mental activity that is not being kept in balance by physical activity. If you find yourself overthinking and you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle, you might want to try adding in some exercise throughout the day. Even getting up and stretching for 5 minutes every half an hour can be refreshing and boost your productivity.
We need to get enough physical exercise to keep us in balance.
If you find that your thoughts are not necessarily repeating but racing, you may want to try mindful breathing. The slower you breathe, the slower you think. Try taking ten mindful breaths the second you find yourself overthinking. Immediately, your thoughts will slow. It’s pretty cool.
I hope that you have found these tools helpful. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the video below.