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.

Managing Your Menstrual Cycle for Peak Performance

Did you know that how you take in information and feel about feedback is really dependent upon where you are in your monthly cycle? Think about it. Sometimes you’re open to others ideas and suggestions while other times you feel defensive. It’s because of your hormones.  A better understanding of your hormones will help you manage your life, relationships and develop a deeper understanding about your body.

Most women have a 28 day cycle. Throughout the month, we experience changes in our sensitivity and stress. Our brains respond differently dependent upon where we are in that 28 day cycle due to an increase or decrease in hormones.  Once a young woman hits puberty those hormones kick in and the stressors that she experiences in her life seem to multiply.  She craves more social interaction with other girls and wants to be part of a group. She needs to be liked and socially accepted  and will avoid social rejection at all cost. Trust me, you are not alone. This is a natural occurrence and it happens to all of us.

During the 1st  2 weeks of our cycle we have the highest level of estrogen, which means we want to talk a lot, hang out a lot with our friends and for the most part probably feel pretty good about ourselves. This is because our estrogen is high. The polar opposite will occur the following 2 weeks (gradually getting worse near day 28) because now our estrogen is low. This is the time of the month when we may feel more stressed, have a hard time taking constructive criticism and just in general feel a little more blah and want to be left alone.  Right in the middle of our cycle, so for many of us on day 14, our estrogen peaks. For those of you in school, this is the perfect time to give an oral presentation or write a paper because our communication abilities are at peak due to the estrogen.  Also, our brains are sharper and more focused. You may notice being able to study for longer periods of time right around day 14 as well.

Here comes the switch– at day 25 or 26 you may feel very irritated by your friends, your teachers and you may even pick a fight with one of your siblings or your mom.  So, keep this in mind when hanging out with your friends during the 2nd half of your cycle and possibly stay clear of your little brother or sister then as well. Knowing what’s going on with your hormones will help you better understand these highs and lows. You will even feel more empowered. Next time you feel extremely sensitive to a comment someone has made about you, think about where you are in your cycle and chalk it up to hormones. Why not use the knowledge we have about cycles to our benefit.  This information can also help us with understanding our relationships as well. So, the next time a friend makes a catty remark, think about where she may be in her cycle and give her a break.

So, want to better manage your hormones and stress every 28 days?  Chart your cycle for 2 months straight and note when you feel good about yourself, when you feel most social, accepted and connected to your friends as well as when you feel at peak academic performance. At the same time, chart when you feel the most stress and frustrated, want to cry for no reason, (dare I say  feel “fat”), want to pick a fight and have a hard time with feedback. Use this information to your advantage and you will feel more in control. Not understanding these highs and lows, can make many teen girls feel confused. Don’t let your cycle manage you. You need to understand it, work with it and when possible, use it to your advantage.