As the day goes by, more and more thoughts get stuck in our heads. By lunchtime these thoughts are already out in full force and they will continue to multiply until finally at bedtime we cannot settle down because we have so much going on that we cannot switch off.
Overthinking is a habit, and it is also very addictive.
So how do we stop thinking? Firstly, I have to say that it’s impossible to stop thinking entirely. Just the act of considering that you have stopped thinking is proof that you haven’t! But you can and should stop overthinking.
So here are 5 ways in which you can stop excessive thinking:
- Read a book.
Reading requires the use of several parts of your brain and, without getting technical, while you are concentrating on reading it is impossible to really think about something else. Your mind will wander, but you will be able to concentrate and get back to the book or article that you are reading. Just as with thinking negative or positive, your mind cannot do both things at once. You can block out unwanted extraneous thoughts by focusing on reading.
- Write anything.
You could even write about the things that are on your mind. Similar to the above, there is a weird phenomenon that while you are writing, different parts of your brain are active and they are automatically given priority. Just like reading a book, the mind cannot do these two things simultaneously.
This is why I’m actually currently writing this article, I have too much going on in my head!
Meditation is something you can do instantly now just by closing your eyes and concentrating on your breath. If you can manage 30 seconds without being side-tracked by thoughts popping into your head, you will be doing very well. It takes time to build up, but it is certainly worth putting in the practice. This is something you can do anytime, anywhere.
- Listen to music.
Put on some tunes and turn the music up. Dance around and sing. The type of music does have a large bearing on the response you get from your emotions. People are different and they respond in different ways even to the same track. Find what works for you, have fun. The music that made you feel good growing up is a great place to start.
Similar to writing, music has the ability to draw out your emotions. Sometimes you need to blow off steam and get rid of excess energy, so you would want something upbeat. Sometimes you may need a cry, so put on something with meaning to you and cry until your tears are dry! It does help in the long run.
- Change your scenery.
Go somewhere, anywhere that you are not currently. Go for a walk, visit a friend, go out in the garden and do some weeding. Taking yourself out of your physical location can take you out of your head as well.
Putting those five specific ways aside, the simple answer is: Just do something that requires some concentration or focus. It really does not matter what it is. Your mind is not capable of doing two major things at one time. You may feel like it is constantly thinking about 100 things, but it isn’t; it just thinks about one thing briefly and moves on to the next in a continual cycle.