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.