Quiet the Anxiety in Your Head—20 Best Ways To Stop Overthinking (2022)

Everyone knows that thinking before acting is wise but when does our thinking actually become debilitating? With too much thinking, negative thoughts can begin creeping in that shed doubt and promote fear. Our thinking becomes negative when we begin to focus on all of the what-if scenarios or we begin to fear a bad outcome with our plans. Since there is no way to predict the future, a person can begin to feel totally out of control. This only intensifies thedownward spiral of thoughts. Then, our insecurities and lack of confidence can take hold and squash all of our original good ideas and plans.

To be sure, part of the negative what-ifs come from knowing of someone who did have a worst-case scenario. In reality, these cases are rare and typically out of our control. When we focus too much on an undesirable possibility, it has the power to rob us of our joy, action and both our physical and mental health. Think about which causes the most distress—the chance of a worst-case scenario or the definite side effects of overthinking? But we're here to help with the best tips on how to stop overthinking.

Every day that we are given is a gift that should be enjoyed and lived to its fullest, and overthinking eats away at that precious time. By practicing these 20 ways to stop overthinking, we can end the vicious cycle of spiraling into anxiety.

1. Do a Reality Check

How accurate is your thought, really? You can acknowledge the worst-case scenario but then put it to the test. For example, maybe you fear getting fired because you want to bring up an idea for changing a difficult procedure. How likely is that to really get you fired? Is it possible your boss may like your idea? Has your boss fired others for bringing up suggestions? If your idea isn't accepted, would you want to quit? If so, that fear of being fired kind of blows right out the window.

2. Take Time To Think Productively

If you are an overthinker, it probably doesn't make any sense to take more time to think. But it does if you do it right. Often, our thoughts come flying at us in the middle of chaotic times when we can't process them effectively. If we set aside time, when things are quiet and we can let our minds go, we are more apt to form positive plans and ideas. It's a good idea to start by meditating on something positive like scripture or a calming mantra. This, in turn, leads to more positive thoughts to deal with a current situation. But watch out! When your mind begins to let in any fear or doubt, it's time for a distraction. Recognize that your initial thoughts are good and will allow you to take action and call out the creeping fear or doubt as a lie.

Quiet the Anxiety in Your Head—20 Best Ways To Stop Overthinking (1)

3. Go for a Walk

Physical exercise is good for stress in general as it can be a way to clear your head. A nice side benefit is that walking releases feel-good endorphins so you will start to feel better with the first step. Walking is also a distraction that gets you away from your current situation and can allow productive thoughts to enter in. If you don't like walking, try another healthy hobby like gardening. The key is to get out of your normal routine.

Related: 5 Tips for Starting Your First Garden

4. Volunteer

If you want to learn how to stop overthinking, start looking at those around you. Volunteering to help someone in need is a great way to shift your focus from yourself to another person. There is no time to think of your own situation when you are focusing on someone else. Plus, when you help someone else it always feels good emotionally. It can even give you a better perspective on your own life when you see what others are going through.

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5. Breathe Deeply

Overthinking brings up a lot of anxiety which also leads to physical symptoms like a racing heart. Take time to breathe deeply. Take at least ten deep breaths, counting slowly as you go. Concentrate on your breaths until you feel your body responding. This deep breathing gives a sense of calm that can alleviate stress symptoms.

6. Count Your Blessings

It's always good to think about all of the positive things that you have or are going on in your life. Start with the basics first. Food, shelter and clothes are of the utmost importance but tend to be forgotten in the grand scheme of things. This might then progress to thinking about other blessings like friends, family, a good job or even a huge success. Our realities are often better than what our own negative thoughts tell us.

Related: 10 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

7. Forgive And Forget

Sometimes overthinking comes from not letting go of our mistakes that happened in the past. Was a lesson learned from the mistake? Then it's time to forgive yourself and move on with self-compassion! It's not healthy to keep rehashing what should have been done. Instead, look at the present and toward the future with your updated mindset.

As well as forgiving yourself, sometimes you need to forgive another person who has hurt you. Once you forgive someone, make sure to also truly forget. It doesn't help anyone to hold onto grudges and the negative thoughts that come with it.

8. Acknowledge What You Can't Control

In any given situation, there will be things that you don't have control of. Acknowledge those things and realize that though you can't change them, you can deal with them the best you can. You may have immediate fear or feel awful about a situation at the onset. However, telling yourself that you will get through it or it won't last forever will go a long way in controlling the fixation of your thoughts.

9. Change Your Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

If you think you're going to fail, you just may when all of your time is spent thinking of pitfalls that then lead to inaction. Instead, start positive thinking. Picture yourself at the end of a dreaded event. Imagine yourself walking to your car after a job interview or important social event and the feeling of relief that you have. Put yourself there, in your thoughts, instead of at the beginning. Know that you are going to have interactions and that you are going to do your best.

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10. Be Yourself

Stop worrying about what others think about you. What makes anyone else's opinion about you more valid? Chances are they aren't even thinking about you in any great detail. They are probably worrying more about what others are thinking about them! If you think that you have a valid reason for changing something about yourself, then work on a solution. Worrying about what others think doesn't solve anything at all.

11. Get Others Off The Pedestal

Think of all the people that you are intimidated by which cause you to overthink your actions. It's time to take them off the pedestal! As humans, we are all much more alike than it may appear. That executive that you fear may look intimidating in the fancy suit but it's just underwear underneath.

Related: 50 Mindfulness Quotes

12. Take Action

Overthinking a situation and having fear of doing the wrong thing will keep you from doing anything at all. Instead, do something to help your situation. There is power in action!

13. Write Your Own Story

For positive change, write your own story that empowers you instead of paralyzing you. Do you ever notice that when you set goals for yourself, you are often able to fill them? Give yourself clear direction and you won't let anything or thoughts stand in your way.

14. Live in the Moment

Focusing on the here and now is much better than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. We have more than we need on our plates in one day let alone dwelling on the past that we can't change or the future that we can't predict.

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Although we do need some goals and plans for the future, we can't overthink all the different scenarios. We can be quite adaptable when plans have to change. Basically, plan for the best and be flexible when things need to be changed. There is no way to have a different good plan for every possible outcome.

15. Identify Your Triggers

What things typically cause you to begin having negative thoughts? Why? Is there a deeper fear? How can you let go of what you can't control? Acknowledging what your triggers are will help you to find specific ways to cope with them.

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16. Change Your Path

If there is something in your life that you know is wrong for you, stop dwelling on it in your thoughts. Instead, change your behavior or situation for a better outcome. The first step in changing a behavior is to write out a plan. Then, work to bring your plan to fruition which will take up your mental space in a healthy way.

17. Write Down Your Thoughts

Journaling is a good way to keep track of your thoughts. It helps when you can write them down and actually see them on paper. Then, logically write down a solution to help you through your situation.

If you are having conflict with a person, write them a letter. You don't necessarily have to send it but getting your thoughts down is a healthy exercise to analyze a situation and better communicate with that person.

Related:15 Best Anti-Anxiety Journals

18. Make a List of Positive Outcomes

Think of all the things that could go right in any given situation. Make that a habit and there won't be any room for negative thoughts. In reality, a good plan has more potential for a positive outcome than a negative one. The whole view of the glass half full or half empty is what tends to control your mind. When you don't know the outcome, why would you want to unnecessarily spend time worrying about what could be a bad outcome?

19. Forget Perfection

Don't wait for perfection for action. This only leads to stalling out instead of healthy progress. When we overthink, we can always find something that needs to be changed—even if it doesn't! Perfection is all about opinion and rarely will two people view perfection the same.All that we can ever ask of ourselves is to do our best with what we have.

(Video) Rewiring the Anxious Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Anxiety Cycle: Anxiety Skills #21

20. Ask for Input

If a friend is having a hard time, you're likely quick to lend a listening ear and offer advice that is practical, as well as extremely empathetic. You deserve that type of thoughtful feedback as well! After going to someone you look up to for advice when you can't stop overthinking on your own, their compassionate (and less emotionally-charged) perspective from being outside of the situation could provide you with exactly what you need to take the first step forward into freedom.

Next up, here are the 12 best apps to relieve anxiety.


Quiet the Anxiety in Your Head—20 Best Ways To Stop Overthinking? ›

Quiet the Anxiety in Your Head—20 Best Ways To Stop Overthinking
  1. Do a Reality Check. How accurate is your thought, really? ...
  2. Take Time To Think Productively. ...
  3. Go for a Walk. ...
  4. Volunteer. ...
  5. Breathe Deeply. ...
  6. Count Your Blessings. ...
  7. Forgive And Forget. ...
  8. Acknowledge What You Can't Control.
Jul 29, 2022

How do I stop my head from overthinking everything? ›

Change the channel in your brain by changing your activity. Exercise, engage in conversation on a completely different subject, or work on a project that distracts you. Doing something different will put an end to the barrage of negative thoughts.

How do you silence an overthinking mind? ›

  1. It's Okay if You Can't Stop Thinking About Everything. Like most people, you've probably heard the phrase "Think positively!" every time you've expressed your worrisome concerns. ...
  2. Acknowledge the Problem. In the same article, Dr. ...
  3. Stop Trying to Talk It Out. ...
  4. Reframe Your Thoughts. ...
  5. Distract with Another Activity.
Dec 2, 2014

How do I stop overthinking everything and find peace of mind? ›

8 Ways to Stop Over-Thinking and Find Peace in the Present Moment
  1. 1) Accept that You Have a Problem with Over-Thinking. ...
  2. 2) Forgive Yourself: Our Brains are Hardwired This Way. ...
  3. 3) Breathe More. ...
  4. 4) Talk Less. ...
  5. 5) Get Physical and Get Busy. ...
  6. 6) Practice Mindfulness. ...
  7. 7) Surrender to the Universe.

How can I free my mind? ›

Use these tricks to add little bursts of mindfulness throughout the day to ease anxiety and calm your mind.
  1. Set an intention. ...
  2. Do a guided meditation or mindfulness practice. ...
  3. Doodle or color. ...
  4. Go for a walk. ...
  5. Wish other people happiness. ...
  6. Look up. ...
  7. Brew on it. ...
  8. Focus on one thing at a time.
Nov 10, 2020

Is there a pill for overthinking? ›

Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour. That makes them very effective when taken during a panic attack or another overwhelming anxiety episode.

What causes overthinking in the brain? ›

While overthinking itself is not a mental illness, it is associated with conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use disorders. Rumination can be common in people who have chronic pain and chronic illness as well, taking the form of negative thoughts about that pain and healing from it.

How do I shut my brain off for anxiety? ›

Mental over-activity is a big problem for many people, but there are some helpful techniques that might aid in quieting things down at night.
  1. Give yourself some mental and physical wind-down time. ...
  2. Don't worry in bed. ...
  3. Focus on mental imagery. ...
  4. Separate productive worry from unproductive worry.

What causes overthinking and anxiety? ›

Overthinking is commonly associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), says Duke. GAD is characterized by the tendency to worry excessively about several things. “Someone can develop GAD due to their genes. Or it could be personality factors like the inability to tolerate uncertainty in life.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.


1. Clear Your Mind From Overthinking (Guided Meditation)
(Great Meditation)
2. 6 Daily Habits to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
3. How to Calm the Voice Inside | Eckhart Tolle Teachings
(Eckhart Tolle)
4. Meditation to Calm an Overactive Mind | Reduce Anxiety and Worry | Mindful Movement
(The Mindful Movement)
5. 5 Ways to Deal with Anxiety || Dr. Hansaji Yogendra
(The Yoga Institute)
6. How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia

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