There are positive results that can occur when thinking through your decisions. Doing thorough research before making a big purchase, taking a night to sleep on a new career offer, or taking a day of rest before an important conversation with a loved one can be very beneficial. But where do you draw the line between thinking about everything and overthinking everything?
At some point, dwelling on our choices becomes detrimental in moving forward with our lives. We put so much weight on the decision itself and feel such anxiety about the potential results of our actions that we lose sight of the big picture.
Ways to Stop Overthinking and Start Living
Set yourself up for success
The little things you do to prepare for each day can do wonders for the way that you handle the stress of decision making. Avoid checking your phone the moment you wake up, and leave the emails until you get to work. Have a healthy breakfast, take some deep breaths and a few good stretches, and set some intentions for the day. Remember that an overload of information creates clutter in your brain that impacts your ability to make simple choices.
Look at the bigger picture
In the moment it seems as though nothing matters as much as the decision at hand. But how much will that decision really matter in 5 days? What about 5 weeks or even 5 months? Think back about other choices you’ve made in the past. How much weight do they hold in your life now? Even if you do have some regrets, you probably aren’t dwelling on them anymore.
Taking a step back to see the entire perspective will be reassuring that although these choices create change, over time they don’t continue to carry the weight they have in the moment you’re making them.
Set a time limit for making decisions
This may seem difficult at first, but putting a time limit on decision making is important in creating good habits. For small choices, such as considering your response to a text or email, or whether or not you should get off the couch and go for a walk, give yourself just 30-seconds to make a decision.
For bigger choices that you might normally weigh over the course of days or even weeks, give yourself 30-minutes. You may need to really use every one of those minutes, but it will make you more productive in less time.
Understand that you will make mistakes
Not every decision you make will be the right one. Nor will every decision yield the result you were hoping for. But as with anything in life, we can’t live in fear of these results and never make a decision again. Accept the fact that mistakes will be made and stop trying to control everything. When you release this feeling and stop being so fearful you will create more room for growth.
Take care of your body
A really good workout makes you focus on the task at hand and allows you to clear your head. A solid night of sleep reduces stress in general, giving you better clarity to make decisions. We are not machines but living, breathing organisms. The way that we treat ourselves directly influences our ability to use our bodies and brains efficiently.
Work towards being more present
Learn how to live more in the moment and you’ll begin to understand how little all that overthinking accomplishes. Being aware of tendencies to over analyze everything is the first step, and working towards being more mindful of these issues will give you power. Use whatever means you can to remind yourself about your goals, such as alerts on your phone or a sticky note on the mirror that just says “be present” or “keep it simple”.
It takes time to become the type of person that is confident in their decisions. It is not an easy process as we seem hard-wired to worry about the impact of even the smallest choices. By creating awareness and following these steps you can create healthier habits that will make you feel reassured in every aspect of your life.
[Credit: Edberg, Henrik. “How to Stop Overthinking Everything: 12 Simple Habits.” Positivity Blog.]