As I lay there at 3am Googling ‘How do I stop overthinking everything?’ I knew something had to change. Life felt like a constant battle of whirring thoughts going round and round my head. But I assumed it was just normal, that this was just how I was wired and that I couldn't change my anxious little brain. It wasn't until I had a panic attack at work, got signed off and started a course of CBT therapy, that I realised how much bollocks that actually was. Through the CBT, a period of coaching and the coach training I went through that resulted from that, I’ve learned and harnessed a number of ways to stop the overthinking.
Overthinking can happen in any situation, but it's very common when changing career, as it can be one of the most daunting and overwhelming things to embark on.
It can be especially prevalent when there are decisions involved, like 'Shall I leave my job?', 'Shall I start my own business'?, etc.
Here are 11 ways to curb the overthinking habit (and take it from me, it is a habit)
1. Watch your thoughts and language
If you keep telling yourself (and others) the story that you’re a ‘classic overthinker’ or ‘I overthink everything’, then guess what - you’ll carry on doing it. Start listening to your thoughts and changing your narrative to more positive stories like ‘I’m in charge of my thoughts’.
2. Catch yourself when you’re doing it
Instead of just letting it happen, become aware when you're doing it. The first step is always awareness and the second, deciding to do something about it.
3. Change your state
If you’re overthinking during the day, get up and physically move away from the thoughts, or better still do some exercise. If you’re in the car, deep in thought, catch yourself and put on some music.
Take 5-10 minutes to get still and be in the present. If you can't turn off the thoughts, try a guided meditation that helps you focus on your breathing.
5. Get all the whirring thoughts out of your head and onto paper
Journaling is a brilliant tool for self reflection and can really help you look at your problems in a different light. This can especially help at night - a very common time for us all to be lying awake going over and over things in our head. Keep a notebook or journal by your bed and once you've got it all out on paper, change your state - read a book to physically stop yourself thinking about it
6. Challenge your thoughts
When journaling, ask yourself, is this a helpful thought? What else could be true? What would people who care about me say? If my friend / family member was thinking this, what would I tell them? What’s the best possible outcome?
7. Give yourself a reality check
If you find yourself catastrophising, ask yourself - what's the worst that would happen? How likely is it? What evidence do I have that that's going to happen? If it's something that's within your control, start making some decisions, e.g. if you’re ruminating over your career or relationship, decide to make a change. If it's outside of your control, ask what’s your strategy if that did happen?
8. Focus on solutions
Rather than just focusing on the problem, ask yourself what solutions you can come up with and / or what action you can take.
9. Acknowledge that your thoughts create your feelings
Ask yourself what the 3 most common feelings I'm feeling lately and what are the thoughts that are causing them? Then, what are the feelings I want to feel instead and what thoughts do I need to be thinking to create those feelings?
10. Get reflective with decisions
If it's a decision you’re mulling over, ask yourself what are the pros and cons of each option? What would XXX person I respect / love do in this situation? And fast forward 10 years - what does this decision look like to you then? How much of a big deal is it?
11. Make decisions practical rather than scary
As yourself if I had a gun to my head what would my answer be right now? That’s your gut talking and it’s usually right. Alternatively do some scenario planning. Assume there are up to five acceptable solutions. Accept that any of them could work and that we can’t predict exactly which one will work best, so what's the point in trying to predict which one will be the best? We aren't mind readers! Therefore they are all acceptable. Do a quick bit of analysis based on available information but the key here is to use your gut instinct to make a quick decision.
If you take one thing away after reading this, I want you to know that you can get control over those whirring thoughts. I’m living proof that you can change your ‘I’m an overthinker’ story using any of the above techniques. You just need to decide to make the change.
If your overthinking is getting in the way of your career change progress, book in a free discovery call to see if we vibe!
Career Change & Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help passionate and ambitious women change career, start side hustles and grow businesses. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.
Career Change Coaching