Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Art of Letting Go: How to Stop Overthinking and Reduce Anxiety?

Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a situation where your worry and anxious thoughts have the upper hand?

We have all been in a situation where overthinking has resulted in unnecessary stress and anxiety. Overthinking brings about a range of negative emotions, from fear and doubt to insecurity and sadness. That’s why learning to let go is crucial for mental wellness, emotional regulation and overall health. But how do you do it? The good news is that there are ways to stop overthinking and reduce anxiety, all of which can be learned with patience and consistency. In this blog, we will explore the art of letting go – understanding why we get caught up in anxious thoughts and what we can do to break free from their grip.

Break the cycle of Rumination. 

Excessive Rumination and overthinking can be detrimental habits. Rumination is a cycle of intrusive negative thoughts that keep returning to you, causing distress and heightening the feeling of stress. This can have a domino effect, negatively impacting your life and overall well-being.

So what can you do to reduce the Rumination in your head? The most important thing is to recognise when it’s happening so that you can become aware of what triggers it. Once you can recognise when it’s happening, you can move away from it by taking proactive steps like setting aside worry time by designating a specific time each day for worrying or Rumination. During this allocated time, allow yourself to think freely about your concerns. Once the time is up, consciously shift your focus to other activities or distractions. This can prevent Rumination from consuming your entire day. Distract yourself by engaging in hobbies, reading, and watching movies to redirect your attention.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a cognitive therapy used to help people challenge and change their negative thought processes. It involves breaking down one’s negative thoughts into smaller pieces and re-framing them in a more positive light. This helps the individual to think more clearly rather than focusing on the worst-case scenarios.

The first step of cognitive restructuring is identifying any automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that may influence how the individual perceives a situation. For example, if an individual is anxious about speaking in public, some ANTs may include “I’m going to make a fool of myself” or “Everyone will laugh at me”.

The second step is to challenge these ANTs by asking questions such as: Is this really true? Is there another way to view this? What evidence do I have that supports this thought?

By doing this, the individual can begin to see the situation more realistically and develop more positive ways of thinking about it. This, in turn, can work as anxiety attack help

Embrace Uncertainty and Imperfection

Accepting uncertainty and imperfection is a skill to learn, but it can make all the difference when it comes to reducing overthinking and anxiety. Perfectionism, often driven by an unconscious fear of criticism or failure, can be challenging to let go of as fear and worry take over. However, understanding the roots of this fear can be a powerful way to break free from the shackles of perfectionism. We can navigate situations more effectively by prioritising acceptance over expectations, even when reality differs from our ideals. Letting go of demands and dropping expectations allows us to open ourselves more easily to whatever comes our way without excessive worry about achieving goals or meeting deadlines. This, in turn, creates space for growth, resilience, and a more balanced perspective on life’s uncertainties.

Practise Mindfulness

Mindfulness is practising paying attention to the present moment internally and externally. By being mindful, you can observe your thoughts to gain control over them instead of letting them take control over you. There are different strategies to practise mindfulness, some of which include:

  • Meditation – Take five minutes out of your day to focus on yourself with no distractions. You can close your eyes or sit in stillness with your focus on your breathing or body sensations
  • Gratitude – Take time each day for self-reflection and remind yourself of things that you’re grateful for
  • Body scan- Lie down on your back and slowly scan through each part of your body from head to toe, noticing the sensation without passing any judgement

Socialise

One of the best ways to fight overthinking and reduce anxiety is to spend time with others. Socialising prevents us from getting too caught up in our thoughts. When you meet with feelings of loneliness or anxiety caused by Rumination—meeting with a loved one can be a great opportunity to get out of your own head. Even if it’s just for an hour or two, it’s enough to give you some much-needed space from your turbulent mind. Having reliable people in your corner can give you perspective when things feel overwhelming and offer comfort when things get tough. Seek support in vulnerable moments so you don’t spiral into Rumination—it’s essential for maintaining mental health and healing from depression.

Engage in Exercise

Studies have shown that exercise can dramatically reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, leading to improved mood. By engaging in regular physical activity, you can help your body to relax and your mind to stop overthinking. Exercise doesn’t have to be extreme either — anything that gets your heart rate up and promotes good circulation will do the job. This could be something as simple as a walk around the block or a brisk hike in nature. 

Letting go is not always easy, but it is a powerful way to restore peace and balance in your life. It can help you to break the cycle of stress, anxiety and depression. It is important to recall that the process of letting go and healing from depression is a journey, and taking it one step at a time is ok. There is no need to rush, and it is essential to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to heal in your own time.

The article is written by Devika Singh. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Christ University Bangalore. She has worked with children with special needs, deepening her understanding of the importance of accessible mental health resources. Hailing from a community where mental health is still considered a taboo subject, she is determined to bring about a transformation in the prevailing mindset. Her primary objective is establishing an environment characterized by empathy and warmth, where open discussions about mental health are welcomed and supported. She firmly believes that through collaborative efforts as a society, we can dismantle mental health stigma and foster inclusivity for all individuals.

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