Believe me, I know all too well how it feels to go into monkey-mind mode. You know, those times when you literally cannot get out of your head and it feels like you are spiralling deep into a rabbit hole.
How do we stop overthinking? Here are my top 6 go-to strategies for overthinking, that I use to loosen the grip my thoughts have and help get me back into the present moment.
1. The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique. Being able to connect yourself back into your body is important to do when you notice yourself getting stuck in your head. When you are thinking, you are no longer in the present moment. A great mindfulness technique to help you reconnect to the present moment is by using all of the 5 senses of your human body. You can do this simply by:
Naming 5 things you can see.
Naming 4 things you can feel.
Naming 3 things you can hear.
Naming 2 things you can smell.
Naming 1 thing you can taste.
2. Deep Breathing. Deep breathing is another helpful tool to combat anxious thinking. As soon as you become aware that you are stuck in your head, take 3 conscious deep belly breaths. I love this one especially because you literally cannot think and take a deep inhale at the same time! It's also a simple strategy for overthinking that you can do anywhere.
3. Worry time How do we better manage worrying? A helpful technique for worrying is to give yourself a boundary for worrying and only allow yourself to worry during a specific time. Set a timer for 5 minutes and use this time to think, worry, and analyze. Then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this time to write down on a piece of paper all the things that stress you out and give you anxiety. When the timer goes off, rip up the piece of paper and do something pleasurable for yourself. This is a very helpful strategy for managing overanalyzing.
4. Write a Gratitude List. Sometimes when I get into an over-thinking mode I spend so much of my time and energy focusing on the negative. I find taking the time to reflect on the things that are actually going 'right' in my life as a great way to re-shift my focus in the moment to more loving thoughts.
5. The STOP Technique. This one is one of my personal favourite strategies to help me combat my negative thoughts, especially the ones that lead me spiralling. What I do when I notice I'm totally in my head (and after I make sure no one is around) is literally yell as loud as I can, "STOP!” This is a great way to release some tension and reset yourself. A modification to this one (especially if you are around others) is to imagine a humongous STOP sign and use that imagery to anchor yourself back into the present moment.
6. Mirror Talk. When you notice you are battling with yourself in your head, turn to a mirror and have a conversation with yourself, preferably out loud. I do this when I am especially critical or angry with myself. There is something about looking into the mirror directly into my eyes and telling myself exactly how I feel, that allows me to access the loving-kind part of me. I almost always end my mirror talks with a heart-to-heart conversation with myself, leaving me feeling really nourished.
Try experimenting with these techniques and see which ones resonate with you the most. I'd love to learn what you notice. I’d also love to hear some of the strategies that you use!