What occupies your thoughts throughout the day? I’m sure that you, like me,
are peacefully present in each moment of time- enjoying the company, conversations,
and sensory experiences around you. Ha! While that sounds delightful, I admit that I
struggle to turn off my busy brain and just be. I know I’m not alone, because “overanalyzing”
and constant mind-chatter are common complaints I hear from clients and
friends. The seriousness of the problem can range from simple unwanted worry to
obsessive over-thinking that can cause insomnia and major anxiety. If you relate to the
plight of the over-analyzer, I have good news. There are many therapeutic techniques
that, when done consistently, result in a more peaceful and present thought process.
Here are my three favorites:
1. Write in a “brain-drain” journal daily.
This technique was made popular in a great book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s
Way. The book is a guide to unblocking our creative selves, but I found that the
techniques Cameron writes about are also useful to lower negativity and anxiety.
Cameron teaches that by writing a few pages of stream-of-conscious nonsense
journaling, you can effectively calm your brain and expel much of the obsessive chatter
before the day even begins. This anything-go-style journaling changed my life! I never
re-read the pages. I just take out the mental trash, and then feel greater clarity of
thought for the rest of the day.
2. Learn breathing techniques and mindfulness.
It’s simpler than you might think to slow down that inner-monologue and relax in a
matter of minutes throughout even the busiest of days. When your mind starts to
obsess or worry, say out loud, “Stop!” Then take three very slow cleansing breathes,
listening to the whoosh of the inhale and exhale, imagining it to be the sound of the
ocean in your mind. Repeat as often as needed to break the over-thinking cycle. You
will get better and better at it, and will soon be able to relax and re-focus very quickly.
3. Train your mind to resonate on happy thoughts.
Why is it that when we overthink, the thoughts get progressively more negative and
worrisome rather than increasingly optimistic? Let’s break the habit of dwelling on the
worst-case scenario, and be brave and hopeful enough to daydream about the best-case
scenario! Spend time memorizing motivating quotes, hopeful scriptures, and reading
uplifting literature. Fantasize that good things are about to happen all around you.
Keep a gratitude journal. Give compliments to strangers. If our minds are anxiously
engaged in looking for ways to positive and present, it’s much more difficult to be
brooding in over-analyzing!
Good luck! It’s hard work to change old habits, but hopefully the immediate rewards of
happy thoughts will help you stick with it. If these simple tips seem impossible, and the
negative thoughts feel deeper than just a bad habit, being assessed for possible
depression and anxiety is very important. A therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy can
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