Fortunately for me, my "over-thinking" never progressed to "paralysis analysis" where virtually nothing gets accomplished. I have been able to accomplish many things and still strive to accomplish a lot more. For those who suffer from 'paralysis analysis' just follow the advice given in that old quote "imperfect action is far better than perfect inaction."
Let's identify some problems & solutions but before doing so please remember this blog is addressing CHRONIC over-thinking not the isolated occasions when we think too long & hard about a particular problem or situation.
Distinction Between An Analytical Mind & An Over-Thinking Mind The first question you may be asking yourself is "at what point does being analytical turn into being a chronic over-thinker?" Answer: when your 'thinking' slows down your production, function (decisiveness) and action (implementation) to a level that is unacceptable to both you and/or to those who are directly affected by your words or actions.
How Over-thinking Could Affect Your Health One way chronic over-thinking can adversely affect your health is that it often leads to excessive worrying, anxiety and emotional stress. And we all know that stress is a trigger for a host of health problems. Based on medical research, stress causes the body's sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones, like cortisol. These elevated levels of cortisol can interfere with learning & memory, lower your immune function, bone density, increase blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. Additionally, over-thinking consumes your energy, disables your ability to make decisions, and puts you on an endless cycle of thinking and re-thinking things through. Ten Suggestions (Tips) to Help Reduce Your Chronic Over-thinking Go through the following 10 suggestions and decide which ones (if not all) you would like to implement. Whichever ones you choose make sure you use them every day for a minimum of 30 days before deciding whether or not they helped.
Listen Up Over-thinkers! (chronic over-thinkers that is) Believe it or not, this blog was inspired by a Facebook post I recently read. The information I'm about to share with you is based on my personal experiences, observations and findings from various studies done on the problem of chronic "over-thinking." However, let me first confess that I am a recovering chronic over-thinker or maybe I just have an analytical mind? Bottom line, when I became aware that my 'analytical mind' was slowly turning me into an indecisive procrastinator rather than the decisive action-taker that I strive to be, I knew I had to start reprogramming my entire thought process.
Clarity & Decisiveness Knowing that clear thoughts lead to clearer & faster decisions, the first step was to stop trying to be a 'perfectionist' in everything I did (by-the-way, striving for perfection is surprisingly not the same as being a 'perfectionist'). My question eventually became "does perfection even exist?" My personal belief is that a lot of our over-thinking stems from the need to find a PERFECT solution to everything life throws at us, in everything we do and in every action we take. But unfortunately taking perfect action or finding a perfect solution is rarely going to be the outcome. <<
Rather than trying to stop your over-thinking by avoiding anxious thoughts, give yourself permission to have them, but limit the amount of time you spend on them and possibly the time of day you entertain them.
Become aware of who, why, what & when you are thinking too much about.
Be mindful of the time you are spending on one thought.
Put things in perspective, don't be guided by fear. How important is it in the big scheme of things. Ask yourself if it is really worth of the time & energy you are giving it. If not, quickly move on!
Write down the things that are worrying you the most and map out possible solutions on paper (almost like a flow chart). You'll be surprised how much easier it becomes when you actually see it on paper.
Keep your focus on active problem solving rather than unnecessary dissecting which often leads to a spider web of additional problems.
If it's something outside of your control don't waste time on it.
Reduce the number of open tabs in your head (too many open tabs will slow things down).
Schedule time for reflection. A good time maybe when walking or when doing low-impact exercising at the gym. Also, we tend to think clearer in the morning after a good night's sleep so try starting your day with meditation followed by reflection (or vice versa).
If your over-thinking is caused by you having too much free time on your hands and your thoughts are causing you no stress, anxiety or loss of valuable time then you really have nothing to worry about. However, if it later becomes a problem breaking the habit may be difficult, so be very careful.
Bottom line, these "10 Tips" are merely suggestions! You have to find a solution that works for you. In your search for the best solution I encourage you to be mindful of your time, your emotions and recognize when your brain is being overloaded with things you have absolutely NO control over. It's brain clutter you don't need. So eliminate those time- & energy- consuming thoughts!