How to Stop Being an Overthinker and Live in the Present Moment
Are you the kind of person who feels stuck in your own head constantly? Do you dwell on your thoughts and notice when your thoughts take control?
Do your thoughts often cause anxiety? Do you wish that you could get out of your head and enjoy your life?
Everyone should be self-aware to the point that they recognize their thoughts, but when you spend too much time or find yourself obsessing over the things that pop into your head, you start to lose control of yourself.
It can start to feel like you’re stuck in a sort of mental prison, and the more you try to get free of your thoughts, the more your thoughts stay stuck in your head, getting bigger and bigger and demanding to be addressed.
This article will not only discuss what it means to overthink everything.
We will also explore how living in your head affects your mental health, how to deal with the anxious feelings this sort of behavior causes, and how to get out of your head so that you can get back to your life and live in the present moment.
Are You Stuck in Your Own Head?
Do you notice that you are more self-aware than other people you know? Do you notice when things pop into your head? Does it seem like every thought that pops into your head gets stuck there?
Instead of just being there for a moment and then moving on, it takes up its own space, and you obsess over thinking about it, analyzing it, and trying to pick it apart until it takes over.
It’s good to be self-aware. It’s great to understand the way you think, the way your brain works, and the way things make you feel.
What isn’t good is obsessing over the things that enter your mind. You end up stuck in your own head and stop living in the present moment because you give control to your thoughts.
If you find yourself lying awake at night instead of sleeping, trying to quiet the loud voice in your head, then you probably have an issue with this.
If you find that when you try to stop thinking of something, it gets bigger and louder and refuses to be ignored or dropped, you may have an issue with this.
If you build something up in your mind to the point that it makes you anxious and uneasy, you may have a problem with this.
This article will help you learn ways to get out of your head and stop treating your mind like a prison where you keep your thoughts. It will help you ditch the negative thoughts and focus on the positive ones instead.
Your Mental Health is at Stake
Being an overthinker puts your health at risk. While overthinking is not classified as a mental disorder or illness, it may be a sign of an underlying issue.
Anxiety and Depression
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a disorder in which people dwell on negative thoughts to the point that it can take over their lives.
Anxiety attacks and panic attacks can become part of your everyday life and negatively affect you and your ability to maintain relationships, hold a job, and function in a healthy manner.
Overthinking and negative emotions are also a sign of depression and personal vulnerability for some people.
When you spend too much time thinking about things and living in your own mind, you develop patterns that can turn into depression and negatively impact your life.
You may end up pushing away friends and family and actively avoiding people because you are constantly focusing on your thoughts.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you have noticed that you are no longer living in the present moment because you are focused on the thoughts in your head, you need to recognize that this is keeping you from living the life you could be living.
Do yourself a favor and decide that your future can be better.
All is not lost. You can pay attention to your thoughts and control them while practicing a more healthy and helpful way to think.
You will be able to express yourself better, and process your thoughts properly, so that you can get out of your head and focus on the things that make you happy.
This article will now present some helpful tips to get you out of your head and away from the negative things you dwell on.
Strategies to Help You Get Out of Your Head
Make Healthy Distraction a Habit
Psychology tells us that distracting ourselves when we’re obsessing over something can help leave our negative thoughts by the wayside so that they don’t take over. We can always come back to a problem later.
Imagine the following scenario:
You went on a first date and things seemed to go pretty well. When the date ended, the other person said that they would call you sometime. This seems pretty standard as far as dates go, right? Well, maybe not for you.
You may start the evening after the date excited that things went reasonably well. You are probably doing a lot of thinking about the conversations you had, the food you shared, the experience you shared, and whether there was a connection. You look forward to the phone call and hope that the next date is even better.
As you continue thinking about the date, you start to have thoughts more intrusive thoughts.
Did the other person have a good time, or were they just being polite? Why didn’t they ask for another outing when the date ended? When are they going to call? Are they going to call at all? What did you do wrong? Are you good enough for them?
You start to read into all the possible things that you could have done that could have put the person off and keep them from wanting to see you again.
You may worry that no matter what you do, nothing will ever work out for you because there’s something wrong with you that keeps people away.
You decide that you’re just going to go to bed because you can’t handle the way all of this is making you feel. So you go to bed, but you can’t sleep. You’re trapped in your own mind, going over everything over and over again on a loop.
You tell yourself that relationships never work out for you, so this one won’t, and before there can even be another date, you’ve already imagined the breakup.
Does this sound like something typical of your behavior? Perhaps this scenario is a bit exaggerated, but if you relate to it at all, you may benefit from learning to distract yourself.
How Does Distraction Work?
When you are thinking of something else, your attention is, at the very least, divided. You may still have intrusive thoughts, but you are also focusing on the things you are using as distractions.
In the above scenario, what if you had decided to grab a book and do some reading when you couldn’t sleep?
You may not have been able to give all of your attention to the book, but you most likely would have had an easier time getting into a healthier space of mind each time you turned the page instead of dwelling on how that date went.
What if you had decided to watch a movie before bed so that you could unwind, disconnect and rest? Your thoughts may demand your presence, but that doesn’t mean you have to show up for it.
Research shows time and time again that distraction is a healthy way to deal with worry. Practice busying yourself with other things because it can help you get your mind off of the things you want to stop thinking about.
Talk Things Out with Someone
Sometimes what we need is reassurance and someone to listen. When you’re overthinking, your mind can lead you down paths that are not only unhealthy and obsessive but downright harmful to your self-esteem and mental health.
Calling up a friend and venting to them about the things going on is an excellent exercise in purging the thoughts living rent-free in your mind.
You may not be able to control your thoughts, but you can tell a friend about them and receive some feedback. This can put things in perspective for you and can be a positive way to express yourself.
Being able to hear someone tell you what they would do in the situations you’re dealing with may help you start to believe that you can overcome whatever is weighing heavily on your mind.
Knowing that someone else is there for you is a great way to focus on the present good in your life that is outside of your mind. Focusing on the conversation you’re having and getting a sense of personal connection to a friend or family member can help you put your thoughts behind you.
You may start noticing that when you can share your thoughts with someone else, they don’t seem so daunting anymore.
You may begin to believe that you are more significant than the negative things you’re thinking, and you can start to feel a sense of hopefulness for a brighter future.
Write Your Thoughts Down
The Power of Keeping a Journal
Pay attention to when you begin to have anxious thoughts and instead of going to a dark place, take control by keeping a journal and letting go. Make a habit of getting your thoughts down on paper, pay attention to how you feel.
Get a journal and write down the things your mind fixates and gets stuck on. Becoming the author of your own story can help you take back your power and process how your mind works.
After you’ve written things down and have had an opportunity to process your thinking, notice how you already start to feel better. To take it a step further, go back and read what you wrote after a bit of time has passed.
You may see that your mind has made the issue you get fixated on much more significant than what it is, and the deep truth of the situation is that your habit of blowing things out of proportion and overthinking has sabotaged your mind.
Writing down your thoughts can get you a step closer toward positive thinking and getting past the things that stifle your thoughts, especially those toxic thinking patterns.
A great way to get your mind off of something and get out of your head is to get up and get some exercise. Moving your body is a great way to take the focus off of intrusive thoughts. Positive physical progress will help you to feel free of intrusive thoughts.
Pushing your body with various types of physical exercise can help you center yourself, focus on your breathing, and propel you towards better self-esteem and a healthier life.
If you develop a routine that involves exercise, such as a walk every evening, you may start to notice that you don’t feel as prone to thinking about things you would usually center and obsess about. Sticking to a routine can give you a sense of organization.
When your life is organized, it’s easier to keep your mind and your thoughts organized.
Download an exercise app on your phone, join a fitness class or gym, make some friends who are all focused on the same thing, and talk to them. Developing new friendships can also change your thinking to be less prone to bouts of obsession and anxiety.
You will find that with support from a group of like-minded or goal-oriented people, your thoughts will run their course and then have an easier time leaving your head.
When your presence is demanded due to a routine you have set for yourself, your thoughts can focus on other, healthier things.
Meditation and Yoga
There is real power in both meditation and yoga. Imagine being able to focus and control your breathing to the point where you can steer your mental course.
While achieving this, you are also conditioning your body to be more flexible, helping yourself to have a good posture and developing better ways to cope with physical stress.
Not only is there plenty of research in psychology to support that meditation can reduce stress and clear your mind of things you shouldn’t be thinking about.
When you start noticing that thoughts are getting stuck in your mind and you can’t help but dwell on them, try meditation.
Each deep breath you take while meditating can help you rid yourself of any negativity and the thoughts related to the negativity.
When you focus on your breathing, keeping your body relaxed and still, working towards deep meditation, you will start to sense yourself thinking more clearly and more logically, rather than dwelling on the past, anxiety, or anything else troubling you.
Live in the Present Moment
When we live in the past or spend too much time focusing on the future, we miss out on the things happening right now.
We spend too much time thinking about things that we can’t change because they’ve already happened and things we can’t do anything about yet because we can’t control the future.
Living in the moment isn’t appropriate in all situations, but the next time you notice you are obsessing over something internally, especially something that occurred in the past, try telling yourself:
“I cannot change the past. All I can do is live right now, and right now I’m okay. Worrying isn’t going to change anything. I’ll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here”. In doing so, you practice daily presence.
Will it completely banish the things from your head that are giving you grief? No. Will it help you change your outlook?
Yes. Putting this mantra into practice can help shift your perspective on things, and that helps prevent anxiety, depression, and compulsive thinking.
Turn Toward Family When in Distress
When you’re upset, can’t get out of your head and feel out of control, one of the most helpful things you can do is turn to the people you’re related to. Your family can provide you with reassurance, love, support, and distraction.
Going to the people we love the most can help us get out of our heads and focus on what is right in front of us: the people who love us.
When we focus on things like our spouse, children, parents, siblings, and grandparents, we are not only helping those who love us and giving us the attention they deserve, but we’re providing ourselves with a distraction that is often key to getting out of our own heads and letting go when things are starting to get build up. They help us feel good.
When you’re stuck inside your own mind, take a break, cuddle with your significant other and enjoy being in the present. Make your child laugh by making silly faces or telling jokes. Call your brother or sister and find out what is going on in their lives.
The distraction, happiness you can get from interacting with those who love you, and the sense of self-worth you can get from your family are all benefits that will help steer your mind in a better direction.
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, when we can’t escape our own minds, and our negative feelings turn into nagging thoughts, we feel trapped within ourselves. If left unchecked, we can end up crippling ourselves and stunting our personal growth.
Overthinking can be a sign of an underlying mental or emotional disorder, and talking to a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help in immeasurable ways.
With the help of guided discussion and/or medication, you can get back to being the person you want to be without feeling plagued and weighed down by what gets stuck in your head. You will learn that you are good enough and are not defined by your thoughts.