—and the more you activate the amygdala. It can become a vicious cycle, and you could put yourself at risk of anxiety disorders in the future.
Trick your brain
Overthinking is like a vacuum of some kind—it sucks you in. “It removes us from active participation,” says Carbonell. “The more we are engaged in overthinking, the less are we actually doing things in the physical environment.”
But it’s possible to defeat this pattern of thinking and win your life back. Pittman has a startling suggestion. “Telling yourself to not to have a certain thought is not the way to not have the thought,” she says.”You need to replace the thought.” What if she were to tell you to stop thinking about pink elephants? What are you going to think about? That’s right: pink elephants. If you don’t want to think about a pink elephant, conjure up an image of, say, a tortoise. “Maybe there’s a big tortoise holding a rose in its mouth as it crawls,” says Pittman. “You’re not thinking about pink elephants now.”
She also asks her clients to “I often tell them: Can we schedule a time for you to worry from 4 to 5 p.m. and that’s all you do during that time?” Pittman says.
You can always go back to the topic of overthinking later if it really needs to be addressed. Then you can make a plan to deal with it. Once you have a plan of action in place, you will be less likely to be tempted to go back to the original worry.
Talk yourself out of it
in helping you deal with overthinking in the long term. Carbonell suggests a strategy. “Pay a little more attention,” he says. “Say something like: I’m feeling kind of anxious and uncomfortable. Where am I? Am I all in my head? Maybe I should go take a walk around the block and see what happens.” You have to recognize your brain is in overdrive mode, and then try to snap out of it. “Do something in real time and real life rather than sitting and thinking,” says Carbonell.
Moreover, in these turbulent times, it can be impossible not to spend an inordinate amount of time stressing about the state of the world. But let’s face it: some problems are better left for others to solve. Ask yourself: should you really be mulling over this specific problem? “Is there going to be a ? Unless you work at the Pentagon, you don’t need to solve that problem,” says Odessky.
Just remember that you won’t overcome the habit of overthinking in a few days. But with repeated practice, you will teach your mind to be calm during times of stress and not go into overdrive.