7 Powerful Phrases To Help You Relax When You Overthink

Itxy Lopez

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0eonky_0Ydgri5f00Photo by nrd on Unsplash

My mind can untangle and spiral like a yo-yo if I let it. One thought can easily lead to morbid or anxious thoughts, especially in the middle of the night (which, thanks to my bladder, happens often).

I used to let it happen because I didn’t realize it was a problem. Daily, my thoughts would messily unravel like a cassette tape. My showers — the place with no distractions — became a place where my dark thoughts could come out and play in the water.

A bad writing day would lead to insecure thoughts that made me want to curl up in bed and sleep. A fight with a family member made me believe our relationship would never again be the same. Every situation felt like it could lead to a worst-case scenario.

But I’m not alone. A study done by the University of Michigan found that “73 percent of 25–35 year-olds overthink compared to 52 percent of 45–55 year-olds.” The study also showed that overthinking can lead to depression, anxiety, and interferes with problem-solving.

One night my family had gone to visit my aunt, but I’d stayed behind to finish some work. At around 10 pm, I texted our group chat to see if they were on their way back home. When they didn’t answer in five minutes, I started fearing that they’d been in a car crash, specifically on this overpass I’m always a little afraid of.

I tried to go to sleep but I just kept imagining them crashing and dying and eventually I started crying a little — and then I heard the car pull into the driveway. They were back. Safe. But I’d never felt more ridiculous and dramatic.

I knew something had to change then. I had to stop overthinking and learn to control my thoughts. I had to wrap the string around my wrist and learn to bring that yo-yo back up. Buddha said, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.”

That’s why, over the past year, I curated a list of phrases I say whenever I feel my mind traveling to those places.

(Caveat: This article isn’t intended for people who struggle with issues such as depression and anxiety.)

1. “What’s real right now?”

One wicked thought is all it takes to end up lost in a forest full of them. Once you’re there, it’s easy to lose track of which way is which, but there’s one question that always guides me back to reality like the North Star. “What’s real right now?”

My family has struggled financially for years. One week, we were doing well, but I started worrying that the money would run out. That thought multiplied: “What if we don’t have enough for next week? Will we go back to how we were before?”

This is a familiar and exhausting thought pattern for me, so when I caught it, I asked myself, “What’s real right now?” I stopped worrying and I remembered that, right now, we were okay. That was the only reality that mattered.

Positive Psychology says, “Being present minded is the key to staying healthy and happy. It helps you fight anxiety, cut down on your worrying and rumination, and keeps you grounded and connected to yourself and everything around you.”

2. “I choose to realign myself with love.”

In her book, The Universe Has Your Back, Gabby Bernstein shares that you can align with one of two types of energies.

“The universe is always responding to the energy behind your beliefs. If you’re aligned with a belief system of fear, then your experiences will be backed with fear. If you retrain yourself to choose love, then you’ll experience life through the lens of love.”

Fear leads to stress, overwhelm, and more. Love can you help you find opportunity and find reason and purpose within a bad situation.

Just a few days ago I was struggling to write a scene for a story I’m working on, and I aggressively told myself I wasn’t good enough. “You can’t do this. You’re not creative enough.” Instead of continuing to spiral, I acknowledged that I was in a state of fear. I changed that by declaring, “I choose to realign myself with love.”

This affirmation helped me view my situation with compassion and remember that just because I was struggling didn’t mean my career was over.

3. “I am.“

This is a classic, simple affirmation that can quickly cancel out any form of self-bullying or can stop fear from latching onto you like a collar.

Sometime in October, my sisters and I were babysitting my two-year-old cousin. I’d put on some Baby Bus videos for her, and at some point, a Halloween-themed video that featured monsters and ghosts came on. She quickly ran off to the side and covered her eyes. She was there only for a few moments before she uncovered her eyes, put her little hand on her chest, and said, “I brave,” before walking back to the tv.

This isn’t about changing yourself and pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s about reminding yourself that you are brave. That you are strong. “It means we can view different aspects of ourselves as being positive and can adapt to different situations much better,” according to Positive Psychology.

“I am okay,” is my go-to whenever I feel my thoughts leading somewhere I don’t want to be lead to. It helps me take action, fix a problem, and get out of my head.

4. “Stop.”

This four-letter word doesn’t look like it carries much weight, but it’s an easy way to halt your thoughts before they go too far.

Just a few nights ago, I was in bed — it was around two in the morning — and I started worrying about the goals I might not get to accomplish if I died young. (Didn’t I tell you I was a morbid-thinker?)

These thoughts are pretty scary. No one wants to think about their death. I couldn’t fall asleep, I felt anxious, and I was so tired. After a few minutes, I realized what I was doing, and I said the magic word, “Stop.” Then a few more times. “Stop, stop, stop.”

“Stop” isn’t normally enough to keep the negative thoughts away, but pair it with one of these other phrases, such as “What’s real right now?” and it’s enough to calm you down. I thought, “What’s real right now is that I’m alive and I’m working toward my dreams.” In just a few minutes, I was asleep.

5. “I forgive myself for thinking these thoughts.”

I’ll never forget this one night when I’d failed to do any of the work I said I’d do, and I beat myself up pretty badly for it, using words like “useless.” When I realized I was doing it, I got even angrier for treating myself like crap. It just led to a heavier heart and more feelings of self-worthlessness.

Bullying yourself isn’t the answer. We’re human. Negative thinking isn’t unavoidable, but you can stop it. When you realize you’re going down the wrong path, catch the thought and say, “I forgive myself.” Positive psychology states:

“…practicing forgiveness can alleviate feelings of anger, avoidance and vengeful-ness that lead to negative consequences in one’s emotional and physical health.”

This phrase will help you be compassionate and move on quickly. It works the same as when forgiving others. You can either hold a grudge and feel bad or you can forgive and move on while avoiding those feelings of worthlessness. Margaret R. Holmgren, in The Journal of Value Inquiry, states that when you forgive yourself, you acknowledge your self intrinsic worth.

6. “I let go of my control. I am open to receiving help and guidance.”

This is a fairly new one to me, but already it’s helped. Three nights ago, I was stressing out about my writing career. I felt stagnant and stuck, so I journaled about it, hoping it would help. In the end, I remembered Gabby Bernstein’s advice from her second book Super Attractor.

I recognized that I was trying to control the situation. I was trying to solve it by myself even though I’d already tried and failed to do so. Gabby calls these people, “Pushers.” So, I wrote in the journal (and then said it out loud) a mantra she herself uses when she realizes she’s pushing: “I let go of my control. I am open to receiving help and guidance.”

The next day, I received a message from Sinem Günel. She was replying, days later, with a simple thank you after a favor I’d done. However, because I’d decided to open myself to help, I had a thought I normally wouldn’t have: “What if I asked for her help?”

I felt embarrassed when I sent the message. Desperate and small, too. I’m not good at asking people for help. But she said yes, and after I asked her a question, she proceeded to send me three minutes’ worth of voice messages. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear. And all because I took a step back and asked the Universe for help.

7. “What can I do right now to ease the stress?”

Since giving in to sinister thoughts is relatively simple, it’s easy to forget that you’re still here on earth, equipped with a brain that could help you solve your problems if you gave it a chance. My thoughts play out vividly and feel like real-time events.

Instead of worrying, there’s a question you can ask that’s much more worth your time: “What can I do right now to ease the stress?”

Whatever you’re distressed about may not have a tangible, fast solution, but there are always small steps you can immediately take. For example, say your car broke down in the middle of the road. You might be so worried that you’ll have to pay a lot of money to fix the car that you get caught up in your thoughts.

But that’s just your mind taking the situation too far. You don’t actually know what’s wrong with the car. Ask, “What can I do right now to ease the stress?” and you’d realize the next step, the temporary solution, is to call a friend for help. It might not solve the problem, but it helps you move forward instead of stressing.

Final Words

Your thoughts can only control you if you let them. Thinking lighter and better thoughts is always an option — albeit a hard one, but not impossible. You can choose to find the good, pull yourself back to reality, and find solutions instead of ruminating about the problem.

It takes practice to develop this habit. Here’s how to develop it:

  1. Throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?”
  2. If you forget to do this, set five alarms throughout the day to remind yourself.
  3. If you realize you’re thinking a positive thought, keep it going.
  4. If it’s negative, stop it and use one of these affirmations or phrases to stop them before they take full control of you.

I still worry as often as I used to, but I don’t worry for hours on end. All of these phrases and affirmations, which I use interchangeably, depending on the situation, have helped me realize when I’m thinking a dark thought and squash it like a bug before it finds other bugs to mate with.

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