The annual Blue Monday has passed, meaning that it has passed the time that the majority of people have broken their New Year’s resolutions. Although this may be considered a time of feeling down, as festive celebrations have ended for another year, summer is a long way off and feelings of needing a break from life creep in, there are many ways in which to stop the worrying and live your life more freely.
During times like these, a huge amount of people tend to overthink situations and doubt themselves, which psychologists have found can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as being detrimental to human performance. Falling into these negative thinking patterns are sometimes extremely difficult to get out of, which can then lead to overly reading into these negative situations, and worrying about things that may go wrong in the future.
Here are a few useful ways to stop overthinking, and get back into a positive mindset to aid a successful and healthy future.
The first crucial step is to accept that you have a problem with overthinking. This doesn’t need to be seen in a negative light, as you are choosing to acknowledge it, and therefore, helping yourself to change. If you are feeling like you can’t get out of your own headspace, and overthinking is preventing you from getting things done and living a happy life, then you have a problem. If you find yourself sliding into a rush of negative thoughts and depression when one bad thing happens, or if anxiety about your future is stopping you from enjoying the present moment, then you have a problem.
Immediately after admitting this to yourself, you must forgive yourself. According to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a psychologist and leading expert in this field, “the organisation of our brains sets us up for over-thinking”, which means that stressors or bad moods will be automatically triggered, which can unlock an overflow of negative thoughts which may not even pertain to the initial trigger for the negativity. Although everyone’s brain is wired to fall into this pattern, acknowledging this and being aware of what is really happening is a huge step towards changing this pattern.
The next step is to simply breathe more and practice mindfulness. Focusing on breathing will help to break the pattern of the interweaving map of negative thoughts. Breathing will help you to relax, remain calm and bring you into the present moment, instead of worrying about the future. This simple exercise can help you quickly transform from being manic and frantic, to relaxing and feeling at peace. Breathing is also a huge part of mindfulness as it helps to ground you in the present moment, which will prevent you from worrying. Lao Tzu famously said that “if you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, and if you are at peace you are living in the present”.
Practicing mindfulness includes meditating by focusing on the present moment without judgement. It is a combination of breathing, talking less, getting physical and partaking in other activities that will redirect any negative thoughts and attention, and bring the mind into flow and balance. Practicing mindfulness means that when worrying thoughts enter your mind, you acknowledge them, before letting them go by energetically releasing them and clearing your headspace.
If you get into a routine of all of these aspects and become conscious of your negative thought patterns, you will soon discover a way to deal with it that truly works for you. Meaning that you can focus on the positivity surrounding you and your life, without worrying.