5 Ways to Stop Being an Overthinking, Overanalyzing Worrywart

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5 Ways to Stop Being an Overthinking, Overanalyzing Worrywart

What was the last thing that worried you?

It was something small, wasn’t it?

Everyone tells you “Relax,” “Get out of your own head,” or “It’s not a big deal.” But to you it is! It always is.

You can’t just take your mind off these sorts of things. If you could you would. You can’t so you won’t.

You try to act normal on the outside and cross your fingers, hoping that no one notices your eyebrows moving closer together to form an upside down V. You try to relax your face…

And days pass. Weeks, months even. You’re replaying the same events over and over again. Repeating what others said to try to figure out what’s wrong. Finally you forget all about what worried you in the first place.

But wait…

You find something new to worry about and the cycle repeats itself.

This is how it feels to be a worrywart; stressing yourself over trivial things and blowing things up in your head is the classic symptom of an overthinker.

Being a worrywart sucks and I can say that firsthand because I am and always have been one. I’d stress myself out over something small, get inside my head, and ruin my own day.

The worst thing is that it’s almost always me doing this to myself with exactly zero external conflict.

So what now? You and I are the same, so what could I possibly do for you?

Well, I can’t say that I’ve got it all figured out and under control now—I don’t.

But what I can say is that I’m better at getting out of my own head than I was 2-3 years ago.

Here’s how you can lessen your amount of overworrying.

1. Time-travel

The Doctor's TARDI
I’m not talking Doctor Who-style time travel here.

One of the most effective techniques that gets me out of my head is to ask myself how long can I realistically see myself upset for?

Will it matter an hour from now? Five hours? Tomorrow? Is this something I’ll be thinking about a month or two later?

Most of the time the small things that I spend an entire day thinking about fade away on their own in a matter of hours or days. One week later and I won’t even remember why I was upset the week before.

It’s always important to ask how you’ll feel in the near future. If future-you won’t be bothered (or even remember) what’s going on now then why is present-you wasting energy beating himself up?

2. Think like your role models

Having the right role models has pushed me further than most things in my life. Just being around them, hearing what they have to say, and emulating their ambitious natures have really molded me into the person I am now.

A lot of the people I look up to have a carefree attitude. They don’t let the small things get to them and even if they’re feeling down they can easily brush it off.

So when I’m stuck in my own head and overthinking again I try to ask myself what would my role models do if they were in the same position. Better yet, I try to think about what they would think of me if they knew I was worrying about something trivial.

3. Write it down

Moleskine Journal
Easy for the guy who owns a website to say. I’m practically forced to write!

But aside from writing articles, try just transforming your thoughts into letters on a page. Whether it’s Microsoft Word or good old-fashioned pen and paper, get it all out of your head.

Try to avoid writing about how you feel and instead be as objective as possible. If you think someone was laughing at you, for example, don’t write “I’m so pissed off because I know they were making fun of me!” Instead say, “There were some people laughing. I’m not sure if that was directed towards me.”

Reading that lets you sit back and analyze the situation with a less emotional perspective. Plus, you can sort of see how silly it sounds that you may be thinking they’re making fun of you just because they’re laughing at all. People laugh all the time. It doesn’t mean it’s for any particular reason that’s related to you.

If your concerns are silly enough then you’ll start to realize it in the middle of writing it down.

By the way, I find that spending a bit more money on a nicer quality notebook motivates me to actually write it in more often. Cheap scratch paper and $.10 notebooks don’t get me excited to write. Spending about $8 on a Moleskine got me in the habit of handwriting for months.

4. Talk to yourself

I love talking to myself. Always have and always will. My uncles used to always tease me when I was a kid because I’d talk to myself all the time. Mostly it was while playing video games, but I’ve caught myself doing it almost everywhere.

One of my dorkier techniques for dealing with overthinking is to have a verbal conversation with myself. In fact, I wrote about cheering yourself up by talking to yourself exactly a year ago!

Be silly with yourself. “Vincent, are you seriously concerned about the way you were walking because a couple of people looked at you for five seconds? You insecure little boy.”

Exaggerate. Poke fun at yourself at your own expense. Call yourself nicknames like “insecure little boy.”

It’ll take the edge off of you and you’ll see the lighter side of the situation.

5. Relax

Gah! Don’t you just hate that word? People constantly telling you to relax makes you do anything but.

Yet, why don’t you and I just relax? It’s easier said than done and no one knows that better than I do, but I really am just relaxed more often than not.

Some things light a fire under me when someone else in the same situation wouldn’t mind it. Oh well, that’s me.

Vincent in Relax ModeI’m a bit uptight at times when I really should just be enjoying myself. Again, that’s me.

But I do remember all the times when I am just laidback. Why can’t I be more like that even when there’s something poking me?

So let’s both make an effort to relax more. Let’s drop dramatizing every little thing and replaying them in our heads.

Life’s so much more fun on relax, IDGAF mode.

Photo Credit: James Bowe, Jochen Handschuh, and Nattu

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers, he dropped out of college and began living a location independent lifestyle (still always drawn to coffee shops though.) Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

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15 responses to 5 Ways to Stop Being an Overthinking, Overanalyzing Worrywart

  1. These are some great techniques, Vincent! Lately, I’ve had the most success by just forcing myself to do something else, preferably something repetitive and/or mundane, which requires very little mental input. Taking a walk or hike is a good option, housework or yard work could work as well.

    For whatever reason, when I abate my mind of having to think about the immediate task at hand, I go into a sort of autopilot and twenty minutes later I realize that there’s nothing to worry about, everything is fine, and life is beautiful after all. Maybe I’m alone on this, but it certainly works for me…

    • Solid idea, Scott! My boss is actually trying to force himself to have more “me-time” to just relax and get away from work for a few hours during the day. I don’t remember his exact schedule but it seems to be working for him. Knock out emails for a few hours, work on creatives, break, etc.

      I try to take more breaks too but damn it’s hard sometimes!

    • Awesome ideas here Scott. I’m a big fan of house work as a way to unwind. I mean not like scrubbing toilets but tidying up and sweeping up are nice ways to sort of unwind and take your mind off things as you say!

      • I know what you mean, Dave. Although I hate doing dishes 99% of the time I would occasionally do one without grumbling or making a fuss just so I can put all of my attention on one simple task. It works even if it’s something as mundane as doing dishes because instead of zoning out or thinking about something else while cleaning them, I try to be mindful of the act itself. Will I be mindfully be cleaning dishes today though? Probably not. ;)

  2. Jofferson Jones Panos June 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I use the time travel ‘technique’ a lot when I’m worried. Or I just do some other activities that would make me forget about the thing I’m worried about. I can read something inspirational, watch a movie, jog or just go out. When all else fail, I take time to pause and pray.

    BTW the background in the photo seems familiar.. I think I’ve been there. Hahaha!

  3. It’s funny how writing it down can force things into perspective. Because the thought is no longer allowed to escape into obscurity, pretending that it was valid. It has to sit there, and suffer your scrutiny. 90% of them are so easy to deal with once they are there.

    One of my more recurring hangups that’s a little harder to dismiss is that I feel like I should be doing more to “give back”. To help people. Maybe I should collect the positive comments where people say I’ve helped them and just read through them every time I. Maybe I will find a way to volunteer (often requires some kind of long-term commitment that involves living in the same place for a while, not sure I can offer that.)

    Thanks for writing this by the way, just what the doctor ordered!

    • Sometimes I feel like that too. There’s no such thing as helping enough so it’s sort of strange how difficult it is to celebrate our victories every now and then. I guess if it motivates you to do even more good for the world than that’s not too awful, eh? :)

  4. Those are great tools Vincent! I especially like “Talk To Yourself”.

    When I really need help I’ll talk to the cats. I’ll talk to the dogs. They pull me out of myself with their need for affection.

    If it continues, I’ll talk to my wife. She can almost always bring me back with her humor.

    If nobody can help, I talk to the Creator. This love conquers all.

  5. Relaxation does wonders. And the times we need it the most are the times we think we don’t.

  6. Great ideas here Vincent – as usual! I have one little trick I use, similar to your “Time travelling” one; if there is a scheduled task, meeting or something in front of me that I’m really not looking forward to (i.e. Meeting with the boss, trip to the dentist, etc.) I just remind myself that in “X” hours it will be over – “X” being how long until it is actually over.

    This seems to take all the worry out of the situation because it reminds me that in “X” hours I’ll have my answer – good or bad – and can move forward. Cheers~! David

    • Interesting. I think for things like all day meetings that are just two hours in this could be pretty discouraging though. This was how I always thought back when I was in high school. “Christ… I seriously have 6 more hours until school’s over?!”

      At what point in the scheduled task do you start using this so the amount left isn’t too overwhelming and discouraging?

  7. Such a beautiful explanation of simple ways how to live stress free . You are right we make ourselves more worried and going nowhere thinking about the words only which somebody said to us ,making us inefficient in more than one day ,one month or even longer drowned in those words which the other person said just to kill his own ego ,stress or anything else .I will read more from your blog which is an inspiration in so many ways . God bless you !

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