How to Stop Overthinking Everything & Get On With Your Life

It’s important to be thoughtful before we speak and act, but overthinking can make it so that decisions are near impossible to make. This isn’t the most convenient way of living, and yet a whole lot of us do it. In fact, most overthinkers are women and plenty of women are overthinkers, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Luckily, there are some ways to actively restructure our thought processes and stop wasting time mulling over everything from dinner options to the fate of the planet.

  1. Understand that it comes from a place of helplessness. Overthinkers often spend more time worrying about an issue than actually doing something about it. We’re way too capable and busy for all that.
  2. Look to the good. Overthinking reinforces negative thoughts, so try to disrupt your pattern by pointing out something good. It’s possible that your razor burn won’t be healed in time for the pool party, but the party is going to be awesome anyway.
  3. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Get in the habit of playing mental referee to your inner obsessive talk. Some part of your brain must know that it’s not necessary to contemplate the difference between five mascara brands for an hour. Give yourself a little perspective to move things along.
  4. Focus your energy on firm goals. Sure, it’s easy to start worrying about everything when you literally have no idea what you’re doing. Setting even the smallest goals can help you regain a sense of control and trust yourself. Hello, checklists!
  5. Consider what the absolute worst could be. Bear with me. So many of our tailspins are illogical, but it’s hard to see that in the moment. Pull the breaks on your worry by asking yourself what the absolute worst is that could happen. Maybe the car you end up choosing will be a lemon, but then you fix it like everyone else with car troubles. Let’s be logical.
  6. Set a time limit for your overthinking. If you must go into a tailspin about whether it was right to break up with your ex or not, set a cap on how long you’re allowed to and then have at it. Ten or 15 minutes should be plenty to see it from all angles and then put it on the shelf and continue on with your day.
  7. Write down your thoughts. If you tend to think the same things over and over and get nowhere, write down your thoughts. Once it’s on paper, you can be confident that you aren’t going to forget it, which gives you the freedom to… forget it.
  8. Take action. You got offered a promotion that would take you out of state. You can either toss and turn all week wondering if you’ll ever make new friends again in a new city, or you can start researching said city and plan a trip to see if living there would even be feasible. Sometimes our decisions are made for us before we even realize it.
  9. Give up perfectionism. We all want to be perfect and avoid the issues that can come from conflict, but of course, we also know that no one is perfect, and no decision is perfect. If you can embrace that, it gets a little easier to commit to choices that feel like the best options at the time.
  10. Consider the big picture. Even if your nagging thoughts do relate to the more important things in life (and not like shoes), there is still probably plenty of good stuff to focus on instead. Think celebrating your friendships while you wait on true love or realizing that your slightly crooked teeth are a cosmetic thing, not life threatening.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog