In partnership with The Fresh Toast

Overthinking is common, particularly during times of high stress. Here are some simple tips that can help you control your thoughts.

The line between thinking and overthinking is thin and easy to blur, primarily during those weeks where you feel like your mental health is not at its best. While thinking is a necessary tool for practically any activity, overthinking can transform something as simple as breakfast into an anxious spiral. It’s not good and very hard to control.

Once you start overthinking, your brain starts to develop a habit for it, creating a cycle that can quickly facilitate anxiety spirals and stress. Although it takes some active work, there are ways to prevent this, especially if you know what you’re dealing with. Overthinking usually functions in two ways: people can ruminate or they can worry.

These statements are similar but rumination refers to overthinking about something that has already happened, while worrying refers to overthinking about something that hasn’t happened yet. Both of these issues are correlated with other mental health issues, like depression, anxiety and more.

While there’s not one perfect way to stop overthinking, there are different techniques that can get the job done. Here are some of the most popular:

Try to stop your thoughts

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There’s no elegant way of stopping your thoughts. Depending on your situation you can try saying “stop” out loud, distracting yourself with work, a TV show, a movie or a book, going out for exercise, and more. Any activity can be successful in stopping your thoughts; you just have to find one you enjoy and that works for you.

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Mindfulness exercises remind you to stay in the present moment. It’s a practice that encourages you to reel in your thoughts once they start taking over your mind. It’s a popular practice because it’s simple and can be done anywhere that’s quiet and comfortable.

Recognize your good actions

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Most of the time, when we overthink, we tend to focus on all the mistakes we’ve made or the bad things that could happen if something goes wrong. This is not only stressful but harmful to your health. It’s important to shift your focus and try your best to view all of the positives that are in your life in hopes of shutting that voice off in your head.

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Use a timer

If you really feel like you need to stress out over something you did or something that’s coming, set a timer for it. Put some parameters in place, freak out and then get back to living your life. While it won’t be easy to stop worrying once you succumb to the overthinking, it could help to give yourself 5 minutes to feel and then 10 to vent your thoughts on paper or on the notes app on your phone.

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