How to stop overthinking and being overhelmed

Embracing the Power and Peril of the Restless Mind

Our brain is an incredible tool, capable of generating and innovating an inconceivable fictional world. The best inventions, the greatest discoveries, and everything we have been able to create, imagine, and conceive – it’s all extraordinary. However, this same brain can also delve into the dark, creating and imagining terrifying folklore, monsters, fears, and even the worst horrors of humanity.

This dual nature of the brain can be particularly challenging for individuals who possess a perpetually restless mind, constantly engaging in thinking, with numerous ideas and a great deal of imagination. If this sounds like you, you may find that your ruminations often lean more towards the negative than the positive, hindering your ability to create the good ideas and things you want to bring to life.

The Burden of Overthinking

As Mark Twain famously said, “I am an old man and I have had a lot of troubles in my life, but most of them never happened.” This sentiment echoes the words of the ancient philosopher Seneca, who stated that “we experience greater distress from imagination than from actuality.” This tendency to imagine, anticipate the worst, and worry about scenarios that may or may not come to pass can be a real source of suffering.

In fact, since 2020, we have seen an increase of over 25% worldwide in cases of increasingly severe anxiety, often rooted in this perpetual state of overthinking and rumination. Be honest with yourself – how many of your thoughts are oriented towards the future, fears, and worrying about potential scenarios? If the answer is “a lot,” then you are not alone.

Reclaiming Mental Clarity and Serenity

As someone who has been talking about efficiency, productivity, and time management for over 15 years, I have often encountered the issue of mental load, which can significantly impact individuals with a tendency to think and ruminate a lot. Whether you identify as a multi-potential or a highly intellectually capable individual, this common trait of overthinking can quickly become a puzzle and a source of exhaustion.

But there is hope. In this blog, I will share the tips and tricks I have learned to manage and overcome this tendency to overthink, helping you regain mental clarity, serenity, and the ability to channel your imagination towards tangible and beneficial endeavors.

Observe and Dissociate: The Power of Mindfulness

One of the key realizations I had in my journey to manage my own rumination and overthinking was that it was often connected to a longing for control. I wanted to understand everything, all the time, and control the world around me. This desire for control can be a significant driver of our overthinking habits.

The first step in overcoming this is to stop trying to control your mind and your thoughts. The more you attempt to control your thoughts, the more you will end up in a pattern of repeated thinking. Instead, the solution lies in observation and dissociation.

  • Observation: Learn to observe your thoughts without identifying with them. Recognize that you are not your thoughts – they are simply passing through you, like clouds in the sky. This act of dissociation can help prevent rumination and the multiplication of negative thoughts.
  • Meditation and Journaling: Two powerful techniques to cultivate this observational mindset are meditation and journaling. Meditation teaches you to detach from your thoughts, while writing them down can help you step back and see them from a distance.

Refocus on the Present: The Power of Breath

Another effective strategy to calm a restless mind is to shift your focus to the present moment, using your breath as an anchor. The positive news is that you cannot think of two things at the same time – your brain is incapable of that. So, when you find yourself caught in a spiral of overthinking, redirect your attention to your breathing.

Practices like heart coherence or simply focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath can help you come back to the present moment, disengaging from the past or future-oriented thoughts that were fueling your rumination. This act of refocusing can be a powerful tool in your arsenal against a restless mind.

Get Out of Your Head: Engage and Immerse

The third key tip to taming a restless mind is to get out of your head and engage in other activities. As I mentioned, you cannot focus on multiple things simultaneously. So, if you find yourself caught in a cycle of overthinking, try to shift your attention to something else.

This could be physical activity, such as sports or exercise, or it could be engaging in meaningful work or tasks that fully immerse you. Spending time with others and discussing topics unrelated to your worries can also be an effective way to break the cycle of rumination. By keeping yourself busy and engaged, you leave less room for the mind to wander and overthink.

Tailoring the Approach: Discover What Works for You

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing a restless mind. The key is to experiment and discover what works best for you. Try the strategies I’ve outlined – observation, breath focus, and engaging in other activities – and see which ones resonate the most.

If you find that you’re still struggling with persistent overthinking or psychological issues, seeking the guidance of a professional, such as a therapist, can be tremendously helpful. They can provide personalized support and insights to address the root causes of your rumination.

Remember, the goal is not to stop thinking altogether – that’s an impossible task. Instead, it’s about learning to observe your thoughts, let them flow, and redirect your attention to the present moment and productive activities. With practice and patience, you can tame the restless mind and reclaim the mental clarity and serenity you deserve.

Unleashing the Power of Imagination

As someone who has grappled with overthinking and rumination, I can attest to the transformative power of these strategies. By learning to observe your thoughts, refocus on your breath, and engage in other activities, you can not only calm the restless mind but also unlock the true potential of your imagination.

When you’re no longer bogged down by constant worrying and anticipation, your mind is free to explore, innovate, and create. The very same imagination that can fuel your fears and anxieties can also be channeled towards the most remarkable ideas, inventions, and projects. Embrace this power, and let your mind soar to new heights, unencumbered by the burden of overthinking.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. I, too, have been there, and I’m here to support you every step of the way. Keep exploring, experimenting, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. With time and practice, you can tame the restless mind and unlock the true potential of your extraordinary brain.

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