How anxiety leads to overthinking and how can you control it?
Anxiety is the best companion of over thinking. Why? Because an anxious brain tends to guard possible dangerous and worrisome situations. The unmet standards we set for ourselves make us overthink. Anxiety causes overthinking in many ways.
- We become obsessed about the “shoulds” and “should not do” in social situations (meeting new friends)
- It makes us worried about how others and the world see us
- Makes our fear of the unknown
- It confines us in faulty imaginations and doubts of ourselves
- Makes us develop a fear being in a crowd
- It makes us worried all the time
Anxiety and overthinking seem to be harmless. However, if these things become chronic, your daily activities will be negatively affected. Anxious thoughts make you physically and emotionally sick. So how can you control anxiety? How to stop overthinking?
Ways to stop anxiety and overthinking
There are several articles on the web that can teach you how to control your thoughts. Those ideas are or are not supported by scientific studies. However, in this article, let me introduce to you real life experiences from real people. The following suggestions come from actual practices of people who experience anxiety and overthinking.
Caveat: The following practices may be highly subjective. Each suggestion may or may not be suitable to your taste or personality. Thus, do not treat these tips as a replacement for professional interventions. If you are someone who suffers from “severe” anxiety, do not hesitate to seek professional help right away.
Okay, so here are the ways other people use to control their anxiety:
As much as I thoroughly hate it, exercising until I’m completely exhausted. CrazyCatSloth
For me, it’s rock climbing and dragon boating. Dragon boating being my main thing especially because of the team aspect and training for races and (mostly indoor) rock climbing for the winter and the sense of accomplishment of beating a route. Advacar
Strange as it might sound, I find pole dance/fitness great for this. EuphemiaChoosesLife
Running especially works for me. bostwickenator
I run when I’m stressed or having an anxiety attack or scared, and weightlift when I’m pissed off and want to beat someone up. That combined with super loud music just blocks out any bad thoughts, I’m too busy focusing on not dying to overthink. Rowan4
Weird, I use audio books to make me focus on something other than what I’ve done wrong in my life so I can actually go to sleep. Chiba211
Focus on your breathing. Keep it normal, but listen to the sound. Feel your chest and stomach expand. Feel the cool rush of air as it fills your lungs. Hear the seconds tick by as breezes move. Realize that time is going by. Feel the earth as it spins slowly. Your room, your house, your block, all are slowly being affected in every moment. And time keeps passing. You keep breathing. Fabrics brush and crinkle. Computers and electronics whine. Birds outside are hopping and chirping. Leaves are rustling. Branches swaying. And you keep breathing. Authorityonsubject
I just play video games a lot and try and occupy myself from myself. Jaded_Coast
I like to have something with an objective I can work towards. Reading, end of the chapter, section, book. Games, mission, acts, full campaign. I sometimes even create my own fictional universes and fill it with details, though I don’t usually do this one, I’ll get hit with a random creation from something I observe or interact with and follow it out. Could be arts and crafts, I’m working on my first costume for an upcoming convention, I’ll put on a movie or music and lose track of time. Jaded_Coast
When I was stressed out in college, Food Network was always my go to. No drama, nothing that might trigger my thoughts back to my real world problems… just food. natelyswhore22
When I’m overthinking something I literally take a step back (like actually do it, it helps), take a deep breath and take stock of the current situation. I think this physicality of this method helps a lot. brandondase
Anything that gives me positive energy. Exercise, eat something interesting, find new music, go out to a crowded bookstore & browse, read a book outside. PrettySmartAndHumble
I do walking meditation using mindfulness techniques. Ze_Bebelo
Additional ideas on how to stop overthinking
Because not of these tips may be applicable to yourself, I provide some additional practices. When you overthink, you can use these simple ideas to free yourself from negative thoughts.
Before you can curtail the negative habit of overthinking, you need to be aware of what is happening around you. Be aware of what you are doing. Negative thoughts start to flow if you’re not sure what you are doing. Thus, it must be clear to you all of your decisions and the path you are following at the moment.
Always focus on the positive
Because life is not an easy journey, it is impossible to be happy all the time. However, this does not mean that you cannot achieve happiness. In fact, you can be always happy if you choose to. How? Through focusing on the positive aspect of your life. Failures may come in your way but you should find a way to look at the good side of them. Otherwise, you’ll be preoccupied yourself with negative thoughts.
One of the things that make us anxious is the unmet standards we set for ourselves. Standards are metrics of our performance. If we fulfill them, we feel good. But if we failed, we usually feel bad. And that’s when anxiety begins. We feel anxious because we fell short of being perfect. But the truth is we can not be perfect. Thus, we better stop chasing such illusion. The best thing to do is to accept failure. Instead of feeling bad about them, just enjoy the learning. Because failure teaches us how to be better. This is the reason why no successful person ever lived who had not failed at some point. So don’t be perfect!
Anxiety and overthinking can happen to everyone. But if you learn how to control them, your life will be lighter. Turn your stress into something that can boost your energy to become productive and happy.
I love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment below.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.