One bad habit I really want to quit in the year 2019 is overthinking. I spend much of my life analyzing decisions I have made, going again and again over things and anticipating other’s reactions. If you do the same, chances are you are an overthinker. Welcome to the club! So before you conclude that calling in sick is going to get you fired, or that forgetting one deadline is going to make you jobless, acknowledge that your thoughts may be exaggerated. Everyone overthinks sometimes, but some people do it more frequently than others. Some people might have anxiety disorders, but the average person like me just tends to overthink things. That is because we feel vulnerable about the future, and so, we keep trying to solve problems in our head. However, this doesn’t really solve anything.

That is why, you should try these 3 simple ideas to free yourself from overthinking:

1. Don’t think of what can go wrong, but what can go right

Overthinking is caused by uncertainty. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. Next time you sense that you are starting to go in that direction, stop. And instead, visualize all the things that can go right. Similarly, instead of dwelling on times when things went wrong, remember the times when things went well. If you are afraid because you’ve failed in the past, remember that just because things did not work out before does not mean that it will not work out again. Every opportunity is a new beginning!

2. Schedule it in

I truly feel that sitting down to reflect is a useful activity. Therefore, rather than trying to ignore issues or trying not to be overthinking, schedule a time to sit and think. Keep a list of your concerns, thoughts, new plans you need to think about. Then, at your scheduled thinking time, set a timer and allow yourself to sit and think through your list. Mulling over problems for long periods of time isn’t productive, but brief reflection can be helpful. You can also write down all your thoughts and feelings. Thinking about how you could do things differently or brainstorming a collateral if you have a new plan can help you do better in the future. But but but, when you notice yourself overthinking outside of your scheduled thinking time, remind yourself that you’ll think about it later!

3. Look at the bigger picture

It’s very easy to fall into loop of overthinking minor things in life. So, when you are thinking and thinking about something, ask yourself if that decision really matters in 10 days? What about 10 weeks or 10 months? Or 10 years? If you think back about other choices you’ve made in the past, they all will not be really important in your life now. Even if you do have some regrets, you probably aren’t dwelling on them now. I try to do this and I’ve found that widening my perspective and looking at the bigger picture by using this simple question snaps me out of overthinking that situation.

Of course, thinking and planning things is great! But, we cannot truly enjoy life if we’re stuck in the past or worried about the future. So next time you fall into the trap of overthinking, deflect your thoughts by redirecting them into some other activity. Call a friend or a family member, watch a movie, go to the gym, read a book, or if not just cook something nice!

Stop overthinking and start living!

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