When my regular routine was upended when the COVID quarantine hit, I struggled to fill my day and found that because I had SO much downtime I could feel when I would start to get into my head too much. I couldn’t seem to stop overthinking!
Fear and worry gripped me and came at a very specific time of the day, usually between 1 and 3 pm. My mind would run rampant and it would actually trigger a physiological reaction in my body. My chest would get tight, I would feel strung out and exhausted despite the fact that I was getting NOTHING done.
Spend enough time in your head and your body will start to react in accordance with your thoughts — for better or worse.
In truth, I had not felt anxiety in that way since before I got into recovery. While incredibly unpleasant, it served as a reminder of what it truly feels like to have untamed anxiety and the torture it can inflict on our entire body.
Luckily, I have the tools and — while it took some digging into a bag I hadn’t accessed in a while — I was able to remember how to use them to create a productive mindset and help me eliminate overthinking.
Negative thought patterns slow down your business, professional, and personal goals and lead to an energy drain. An energy drain can form and leave you feeling stressed, especially when you become stuck in a cycle of negativity.
Here are the tools I used during the endless days of quarantine when I was alone with my thoughts and fear was trying to push its way through.
Want to Stop Overthinking? Create a Routine and Stick to it!
Creating and keeping a routine can help you alleviate stress both physically and mentally. Having a predictable set of tasks allows both your body and your mind to know what to expect each day, keeping anxieties about the unknown at bay.
If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, having a routine is even more important for keeping you mentally healthy. Keeping a journal, where you write out your routine, allows you to set a clear schedule. Even just choosing a time to write in your journal once a day can be a great first step in building a daily routine. Using that time to write out what is worrying you can help you stop overthinking and make a plan for dealing with potential stressors and face them with confidence.
Include The Following Elements Into Your Routine
COMMIT TO A MINDFULNESS ROUTINE
Studies have consistently shown that mindfulness can be a fantastic tool for learning to slow down, stop overthinking, and manage negative thoughts and anxieties by grounding yourself in the present moment. There are many guided mindfulness mediations available to help get you started. In order for mindfulness to work, we’ve got to remember to practice it so scheduling regular self check-ins was super important.
Journal to process your thoughts. I wrote in an Evernote virtual notebook but you can write in a regular notebook or if easier, record your voice and have it transcribed using one of the many free apps that are out there today!
Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to help deal with anxiety. Not only does it take your mind off of the things that make you anxious, but it also changes your brain chemistry, causing your body to produce more of the natural anti-anxiety neurochemicals, like serotonin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), that can help you stay positive. Using your muscles also helps lessen the muscle tension that anxiety can trigger, so you physically feel less anxious.
There are so many ways to connect to those you love. Talk on the phone, send a text, wave to your neighbor, call your family, call your best friend, send a meme. You don’t have to spend three hours on the phone or carve out two hours for lunch; it can be quick and concise. The important thing is actively connecting with others. When we feel disconnected it’s often because we are waiting for the world to come to us. If you want to feel connected, then you need to make an effort to connect.
Knowledge is power. Learn something new every day. Read an article, learn how to code, join a free online course – there are so many amazing things at our fingertips these days and when we actively participate in expanding our world with knowledge, we create an opportunity for new outlets we have never seen before.
STOP TO EAT
Our brains are on constant overload in the age of information. I spoke above about committing to a mindfulness routine and you can piggyback that mindfulness moment onto your daily breakfast, lunch, or dinner routine. Ever get cranky when you are hungry? Tired? Manage your moods by focusing on daily habits that keep your physiological needs in check. Your body needs food to build muscles, give you nutrients, and support your mental energy. Take a moment before and after your meal to check in with how you’re feeling. You’ll make better food choices this way and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
The key to combating overthinking is action.
By creating a checklist of daily activities that you want to do consistently over a period of time, just taking those actions on a daily basis will allow you to combat the anxiety that comes from overthinking and not only get more done but feel calm while you are crushing it!