How To Stop Overthinking Right Now

Matt Lillywhite

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I used to be an emotional wreck. My anxiety was high, and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. Negative thoughts often got the best of me. So as you can imagine, it didn’t take long to enter an endless cycle of mental health problems, from which it was incredibly difficult to escape.

Overthinking became commonplace. I struggled to look at myself in the mirror because I was deeply ashamed of what I looked like. Frequent feelings of anxiety took over my mind, and I often struggled to go outside because I was afraid of what other people thought of me. Saying my life sucked would be an understatement.

But one day, I stumbled across the habit of daily journaling. At first, I thought it was some cliche self-help gimmick. Deep down, I was incredibly skeptical. But after trying it out for a few weeks, I noticed the incredible impact it had on my mental health. Quoting an article published by Harvard Medical School:

“The act of thinking about an experience, as well as expressing emotions, seems to be important. In this way, writing helps people to organize thoughts and give meaning to a traumatic experience. Or the process of writing may enable them to learn to better regulate their emotions.
It’s also possible that writing about something fosters an intellectual process — the act of constructing a story about a traumatic event — that helps someone break free of the endless mental cycling more typical of brooding or rumination. Finally, when people open up privately about a traumatic event, they are more likely to talk with others about it — suggesting that writing leads indirectly to reaching out for social support that can aid healing.”

If you’re anything like my past-self, you overthink… a lot. So if you want to improve your mental health, writing down your emotions could be a great way to ease any feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress.

Here’s how to start.

Understand The Nature Of Negative Thinking.

Just because your mental health might be bad right now doesn’t mean it will remain the same way forever. You have the power to change the trajectory of your future and live a much better life than you ever thought possible.

The best way to start? Identify the reason behind your negative thoughts. Because once you understand the cause, it’s easier to prevent them from affecting you in the future. Quoting an article published by the provincial government of British Colombia:

“If you stop negative thoughts, you may be more able to care for yourself and handle life’s challenges. You will feel better. And you may be more able to avoid or cope with stress, anxiety, sleep problems, unwanted weight gain, or depression.”

One technique that massively improved my mental health is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In essence, it’s becoming aware of irrational negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones.

You might start by identifying a troubling situation or condition in your life (such as anxiety or depression). You could then become aware of your negative thoughts and write down how you feel about a specific situation.

For example, I wrote down several reasons why I thought other people disliked me. The truth is that deep down, I was genuinely afraid they would judge me for the insecurities I saw in myself. And as a result, I rarely had the courage to meet more people and make new friends.

Once you can identify negative thought patterns that contribute to your behavior, it’s much easier to replace them with positive ones. After all, your thoughts influence your behavior. Thus, reshaping harmful or inaccurate thinking can help modify your behavior and eliminate the problems that hold you back from the life you desire.

My friend, take a moment to understand that change is possible. Because once you regain control of your negative thoughts, they will no longer be in control of you.

Write Down Anything That’s On Your Mind.

Every morning, I spent ten minutes writing down anything that’s on my mind. Sometimes, it’s feelings of stress or anxiety about an event that happened the previous day. Other times, I write about mango. Please, try not to judge me too much. They’re pretty damn delicious.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this daily habit has changed my life for the better. Because when I write down my thoughts onto a page, they’re no longer trapped in my head. Quoting an article published by PsychCentral:

“The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.”

Consider writing for a few minutes in your notepad each day. Or if you don’t have one, the notes application on your phone or laptop will suffice. Once you can identify problems that are negatively impacting your mental health, it’s much easier to find a solution.

My friend, writing about your emotions is a great way to improve your mental health. So if you want to ease feelings of anxiety, depression, or anything else that might affect you, consider writing down how you feel for a few minutes each day. It’s a strategy that massively improved my mindset and the way I see the world. I’m sure it will do the same for you, too.

I’m going to leave you with a beautiful quote from Kay Walkingstick, who perfectly sums up what I’m trying to say:

“Journal what you love, what you hate, what’s in your head, what’s important. Journaling organizes your thoughts; allows you to see things in a concrete way that otherwise you might not see. Focus on what you think you need to find in your art.”

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