How to Stop Overthinking Things

Why do we overthink things? Why do we second guess what we’ve said? downloadWhy do we re-play negative situations over and over in our heads? Could anxiety be to blame?

What we need to do is to learn to take things for face value and just move on, BUT some say that’s not so easy for women because our hormones may actually be the culprit. 

Now, everyone has anxiety, and don’t forget, anxiety is important.  It’s a natural reaction that our body has to a new situation. It serves as a basic survival function – like a warning system that alerts us whenever we perceive a dangerous experience, but sometimes our anxiety works overtime.

Researchers are investigating whether estrogen – the female hormone – could be to blame for this increased brain activity and negative responses in women because it actually controls learning and processes our mistakes. Also, Estrogen is thought to increase serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that can boost mood. If Estrogen drops then serotonin does too, which can contribute to mood swings and depression.  Everything is intertwined.

Not to mention, hormonal changes have also been associated with anxiety. And with an increase in anxiety, we also see an increase in panic attacks (especially during PMS, post-childbirth, perimenopause, and menopause.) Therefore, when estrogen levels are low serotonin is low creating an unstable mood and then anxiety can develop.

However, there are some basic things you can do that will help your hormones stay regulated.  Such as practicing good eating habits, getting plenty of exercise and deep sleep. Also, limit alcohol, sleep in a cool room and don’t eat late at night.  All these issues can create a restless night. *It’s recommended that adults get 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep per night.   Remember, there’s no such thing as too much deep sleep.

Now with all this to consider, let’s get back to the main question… how do we stop overthinking? Here are 3 techniques that you can easily do.

1. Awareness

Awareness is the first step in putting an end to overthinking. Start paying attention to your thoughts. When you notice yourself replaying negative events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can’t control, acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive and release them (with your breath). It’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. Try to refocus on something positive to distract the negativity. Acknowledge when your thoughts may be a bit overly negative. Learn to recognize and replace this thinking before it goes too far.

2. Keep Your Focus On Problem-Solving

Dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful, but looking for tools, resources or solutions can be. Instead of asking why something happened, ask yourself what you can do about it. It keeps your thoughts in a positive mode and helps you feel like an active participant in fixing the issue.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Eventually, work your way up to mindfulness strategies such as positive coping skills and relaxation techniques. It’s impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you’re living in the present. Commit to becoming more aware of the here and now. Mindfulness takes practice, like any other skill, but over time, it can decrease overthinking.

Helpful Sleep Rituals for Teens

Can’t fall asleep?images

Sometimes it’s hard for teens to wind down by the end of the day. Between school, sports,
tutors, friends and homework—their brains are constantly on overdrive. No wonder many teens complain of waking up tired in the AM. They aren’t getting the proper rest they need. Think about it. People teach us how to drive, how to cook, how to study…so why don’t people teach us how to sleep?  The solution is a sleep ritual.

Here are a few tips to help you sleep.

  1. Limit your screen time.  Not just at night, but during the day.  Opt for going outside, reading, or relaxing without a smart phone or tablet near by. It helps your brain wind down.
  2. An hour before bed, begin what I like to call the “sleep ritual”.  Put away all school books, notebooks, homework, etc., and pack your backpack for the next day. Then, put the bag out of sight, ready for the morning.
  3. Shut all computers, smart phones, and video games off.  The key here is no bright lights distracting you.
  4. Pull down your bed covers, then lower the lights in your room. This triggers your brain that sleep is coming. (*Low music is optional.)
  5. Take a warm shower in low light or no light. Slow down your mind in the shower by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on your breathe.  The warm water helps produce oxytocin, which help us relax and preps us for sleep.
  6. After the shower, keep your eyes cast downward. This limits the visual distractions that cue your brain to be active again. After leaving the shower, so straight to your room.  Do not interact with family, or get distracted by sounds.
  7. Once you enter your room, shut off the low light (and music if it’s not on a timer) and go to bed. Chances are you will fall a sleep faster and sleep more soundly.

Facts/Tips

1) Watching tv in bed is the worse! It doesn’t trigger sleep and inevitably you will keep waking up when the actions on the screen shift in volume.  This disrupts your entire sleep cycle.

2) We sleep best in cool environments. So, if you have a habit of keeping socks on before bed or loading on the covers, think about changing that habit. Chances are you kick off the socks in the night and wake up from being over heated.  Open a window as well.

3) Drink a glass of water before bed. It hydrates the brain and helps with it’s “self-cleaning” process. You will wake up more rested.

4) If you are a light sleeper, sleep with ear plugs. The average person wakes up far more during the night than they realize.  Just because you can’t remember waking up, doesn’t mean that you didn’t.

What is Confidence Coaching?

Confidence coaching is a one-on-one service I provide for teen girl between the ages 13-17. It’s designed to provide them (with the tools ) to healthier self-esteem.

Through a series of session, we discuss letting go of negative inner thoughts, anxieties and self-sabotage.  We practice techniques & exercises, discuss tough topics, and confront issues together.  I push them past their comfort zone and lead them ultimately to a stronger sense of self.

By using my system called RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-respect and Empowerment), we explore, discover and in some cases uncover, each girl’s inner voice. Based on each girl’s unique story, we tailor a plan for her incorporating the following components of the RAISE system as they relate to her story (life.)

R- Resilience is building a strong protectice shield around yourself. We practice resiliency exercises to help build a tough shell. We disccuss how perfectionism is unrealistic, unhealthy and unattainable. You learn to set attainable and healthy goals. (Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

A- Attitude is the lens though which you see the world;  your orientation to the world. Is your glass have empty or half full?   Through simple adjustments and exercises, we can change our attitude.  Adaptability is the key here. Learning to roll with change is a huge factor affecting our attitude.

I- independence is the ability to make your own choices instead of blindly following the crowd. The way you become independent is by taking on challenges, big or small. Pushing yourself further than you thought you could go and realizing what you are made of.

S- Self-respect is about learning to put yourself first. It’s about not easily being swayed into uncomfortable situations and rarely feeling peer pressure. Having a strong group of friends is powerful. Who we surround ourself with is important. You will begin to evaluate friendships and take steps to confront the unhealthy ones in your life.

E- Empowerment is about feeling strong in your decisions, opinions, and individuality. In many ways, empowerment can be the culmination of the other 4 concepts when integrated successfully into your life. Your confidence will blossom and ultimately – regardless of success or failure – you will grow strong, trust in yourself, and look inward for approval.

For more information about confidence coaching in the SF bay area, email carol@dr-carol.com.