9 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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You keep staring at your bedroom ceiling, forcing your mind to sleep as multiple thoughts hold it hostage. Or you may catch yourself constantly ruminating on the highly awkward conversation you had with your employer on your way home from work. Overthinking may hit you at any time of the day or night, often leaving you frozen in indecision.

Their own thoughts trap the majority of people because they are always trying to control a situation or are striving to achieve perfection. Such people want to know every single angle and wish to be able to control everything that’s about to happen in their lives. In doing so, they are often stuck in a neverending circle of overthinking and anxiety.

While it may not seem like a big deal, overthinking can sometimes lead to lifelong troubles that directly impact the quality of life. Hence, learning how to stop overthinking and worrying with professional help and every tip is highly recommended.

If you have doubts about being an overthinker, take a minute and check if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • You worry too much about the future, make catastrophic predictions, and think about unlikely events yet to happen. This habit makes it difficult for you to enjoy the present.
  • You always ruminate about the past and constantly beat yourself about all the “could haves” and “should haves.” As a result, you find it difficult to let go of the past and move on.
  • You always feel stressed about what others might think of you. Consequently, you are constantly replaying every social situation and every interaction in your mind whenever you get a chance.
  • You allow negativity to build up in your mind through critical self-talk.
  • Because you are constantly replaying all the options in your head, it becomes difficult for you to take action.
  • Overthinking induces the symptoms of depression in your mind and body by elevating your stress levels and clouding your judgment.
  • As you overthink a tough decision you need to make, you end up creating more problems for yourself.

Whether you wish to stop overthinking at night or day, the following five steps can help you get out of this endless cycle with success.

Step One

The first step involves identifying when you are overthinking or worrying too much. Sometimes, someone else may point it out to you, but it’s always better to learn how to spot it within yourself before it starts showing. Sometimes, a bout of overthinking may bring specific physical symptoms, such as sweaty palms or a faster heart rate, which may make it easier to spot.

Step Two

Once you have caught yourself overthinking, take a step back and get some perspective on why it is happening to you. Ask yourself if the cause of your overthinking is something that you can control or not. For example, you cannot control the traffic that’s making you late to an event but can undoubtedly handle the route you choose next time. If the cause is something beyond your control, remind yourself that the situation is beyond your ability to change.

Step Three

If the situation you have identified in step two is well within your control, step three involves being in the moment and isolating the singular problem.

Step Four

During this step, set a time limit on how long you will take to solve the problem you have identified. Make sure not to slip into a problem-dwelling mode which will only delay the process of breaking out of overthinking. For example, if you are late for an appointment due to traffic, consider looking for alternative routes instead of worrying or overthinking. Alternatively, you may call the person you are meeting with to let them know you will be late.

Step Five

During the final step, recognise the baby steps you took to proactively solve your problem, even if you could not manage it completely. Celebrate that you identified a cause of overthinking and controlled it without letting it control you.

Remember that you may not succeed at this five-step approach the first couple of times. However, with practice, you will eventually get there.

While it may not be possible to overcome overthinking and excessive worrying immediately, taking things slow and steady will get you there soon enough. Mentioned below are some tips to stop these negative patterns.

Keep an eye out for triggers and patterns

Get a journal and note down any specific moment that you think triggered overthinking or worry in your head. After a few weeks, you will begin to notice patterns and identify triggers that may eventually lead to these problems. This vital information can help you formulate a coping strategy for situations you know will make you overthink.

Challenge your thoughts

Remember that you do not always have to believe everything you think. Challenging your ruminations or viewing your worries objectively is an excellent way to squash any overthinking patterns. If you notice that your overthinking thoughts are not beneficial, call them out, as this makes them easier to manage.

Seek support from family and friends

Do people around you often tell you how you think or worry too much? It is likely that they are on to something. The best thing to do in this situation is to get some perspective from a trusted friend or family. Ask them to weigh in with their thoughts and point you out when you seem to be stuck in a pattern of overthinking. If possible, choose someone familiar with managing overthinking.

Get some exercise

Sufficient evidence demonstrates that exercise can improve anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. Similarly, regular workouts can help chronic overthinkers break free from negative thinking patterns. This does not necessarily mean spending hours in the gym or going out of the way to exercise. Even a five-minute walk in the neighbourhood can send an influx of happy hormones like endorphins to your brain. Physical movement can also help you get out of the fight-or-flight mode and relax your mind.

Consider retraining your brain

Two of its areas are still active when your brain is at rest. These include the areas related to problem-solving and self-referential thinking. This means that even if you leave your brain to it, it tends to overthink. In such circumstances, the best way to avoid overthinking is by performing mind-clearing activities, especially during times when you are the most prone to overthinking. For example, if you are likely to overthink as you lie in bed waiting for sleep, make a habit of reading a book close to bedtime to avoid it.


Practice attention training, a meditative technique particularly beneficial for individuals with depression and anxiety. The easiest practice method is focusing on something mundane, such as folding laundry or washing dishes. Now focus your attention on this particular task so that you may feel hyper-focused. As you do it, observe yourself and all the sensations in your mind and body. This activity can help eliminate intrusive thoughts that may make you overthink otherwise.

Focus more on your body

Another way to practice mindfulness to overcome overthinking and stress is with grounding body scans. This approach involves putting intrusive thoughts at the back of your mind and diverting your attention to the body. For instance, close your eyes and focus on feeling your heartbeat from inside the body or put both feet on the floor and try feeling each point of contact. You may also consider hitting the gum or listening to music to connect with your body.

Start Journaling

Journaling is a great way to clear your mind of all overwhelming thoughts that may be troubling you. So whenever you are unable to cope with your intense emotions, open up the journal and write down whatever you are feeling at the very moment to lighten the load.

Get some fresh air

Getting fresh air can be amazing for your brain, no matter where you live. Research indicates that spending as long as 90 minutes in an environment close to nature can reduce your tendency to ruminate. This is because most natural settings are away from the noise and the usual distractions of city life and can help people get rid of their negative thoughts and focus on their refreshing surroundings.

Take help from a professional 

If you feel like overthinking has started taking over your life, it might be a good idea to consult with a mental health professional or your primary healthcare physical about it. A counsellor or therapist can help you look into your problem on a deeper level and offer overthinking therapy to overcome it more healthily. These professionals can also identify and manage any underlying causes fueling these behaviours, such as depression and anxiety.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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