Under ‘bogged down’ in the dictionary, you’ll find the definition “to become so involved with one particular thing that you cannot make any progress”. In other words, your brain shuts down and refuses to cooperate.
For example, you’re in a meeting, trying to focus on what’s being said, but all you get is a strong urge to check your email. Or you’re at your desk trying to get some work down and your brain keeps conjuring thoughts of everything else you’re not supposed to be thinking about.
At the University of Michigan, psychology professor Susan Nolen-Hoeksema researched young to middle-aged adults and discovered that nearly 73% of them can be characterized as over-thinkers, with women coming in at 57%, while the men were 43%.
We live at time where everything around us is competing for our brainpower. Everywhere we turn, something is trying to grab our attention through words, pictures, advertisements, music. This has a serious negative effect on our stress levels which reduces our concentration even further.
Here are a few other symptoms that arise from over-thinking:
- Achy joints
- Wanting to control everything
- Fear of failure
- Second-guessing yourself
- Not being able to stay in the here and now
So if you’re just like the rest of us, suffering at the hands of the inability to shut off your thoughts, then read the tips below to help you detach and unburden yourself from the constant chattering of your brain.
1. Connect with Others
This can be by joining classes, book clubs, meeting up with old friends or reaching out to family members more often – or all of the above. Work at your own pace and do what feels comfortable to you. By talking with others who enjoy doing the same things you do, you feel connected which can put a stop to overthinking. You feel more positive about yourself which can help you grow as an individual, and be more appreciative of what you have and the progress you’ve achieved, instead of focusing on what’s missing or what could go wrong.
2. Trust Yourself
Not being able to trust yourself to make a decision is a sure sign of a foggy brain, making lose out on important life and work milestones.
Most people fear decision-making because of several reasons; they’re afraid of failing, letting others down, or they have low self-esteem – whatever the reason, they’re missing out on a valuable part of living. By not doing anything at all, they’ve already made a choice, they just aren’t aware yet that it’s probably the worst one.
3. Create a Bedtime Routine
Thoughts usually bombard us more at bedtime because it’s at the end of the day when we rehash everything that went on throughout the day – all of it; the good, the bad, the missed opportunities and the exasperating incidents.
But it’s easy to get yourself for a good night’s sleep if you prepare properly. Refrain from heavy meals, alcohol or excess water consumption 2 hours before bedtime. Limit screen time 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Another great thing to stop your mind from overthinking is to do something creative. Creativity and emotions are stronger than thoughts so when you give your emotions the chance to come to the surface, you’re muting your thoughts, giving you a restful night’s sleep. Here some things you can try:
- listening to classical music or jazz
4. Stop Multi-tasking
Science now says there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. A study carried out at the University of Utah says only 2% are efficient multitasking; the rest of us are doing the same amount of work for longer – not efficient at all. Our current average attention span is about 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds as was recorded back in 2000.
While it may seem great to do several things at once, all you’re doing is costing yourself more time and boosting stress levels because, at the end of the day, nothing gets done effectively.
When you’re working on a project, then take a few seconds to check your email or Instagram account, it will take you 20 minutes to be able to fully focus once again on your original task. As the day progresses, those 20 minutes will amount to hours and hours of lost time.
The answer to this problem lies in your ability to tune out external stimuli and focus only on the task at hand. You can work in 10-minute increments at first, then slowly keep adding 5 minutes until you can work a full half hour without getting distracted.
Make sure to take 10-minute breaks; take a quick walk or get some coffee and a snack to reward yourself for working hard and being able to concentrate on one thing at a time.
On a final note, start experimenting with these tips until you establish what works best for you. Create a vivid mental picture of what it is you want to achieve and work your way towards your goals by persevering and trusting in your own abilities.