- Pay attention to the way you think.
- Have some perspective.
- Focus on the things you can change.
- Get a good start every day.
- Schedule some time for reflection.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Stop being a perfectionist.
- Realize that you cannot control everything.
No matter how much you love what you do for a living, it will occasionally be a source of stress and anxiety. And it’s not unusual to find yourself spiraling with doubt and insecurity during these times, whether it’s regarding your interactions with employers and coworkers or your overall job performance. But with some expert-approved strategies that are actually quite simple once you make them a habit, you can learn how to avoid overthinking at work and save yourself from going down that path.
Therapists specifically define overthinking as a behavior that is noticeably more obsessive and can ultimately be destructive. So what exactly is overthinking at what makes it different from healthy, critical analyzing? As for what causes it, this way of thinking frequently results from fearful circumstances, as is frequently the case in work environments. Overthinking, according to Human Design Coach Jeni Gage, is fundamentally about pleasing other people. “Were trying to avoid conflict and gain praise simultaneously. Because groupthink is prevalent in most workplaces, it’s simple to conform to others’ expectations. “.
Even if it’s not the environment itself that’s the problem, you might notice overthinking emerging as you attempt to complete your typical tasks because, in addition to what occurs during your actual 9–5, other areas of your life that are under duress could accumulate, adding to the existing causes of stress, anxiety, and burnout that your job creates.
But whatever the cause, you can use some advice from therapists, career coaches, and life coaches to stop these pessimistic and ultimately useless thoughts. It might be as easy as slowing down and taking five deep breaths. Here are six specific strategies that professionals use with clients who overthink at work. Try them the next time you feel yourself spiraling into self-consciousness.
Workplace Mental Health – all you need to know (for now) | Tom Oxley | TEDxNorwichED
Why you should stop overthinking
A 2013 study by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that obsessing over your issues, flaws, or shortcomings can raise your risk of health issues. Overthinking can increase stress, interfere with sleep, and have a negative impact on your career.
Your performance at work can be greatly affected by your stress levels. Eliminating stress can boost your motivation, help you concentrate on short- and long-term objectives, and improve your interactions with coworkers. People frequently feel more in control of major decisions and how they carry out specific tasks when they are more at ease.
Overthinking can keep you from getting any sleep at all. Getting more sleep has many of the same advantages as reducing stress, including better focus, motivation, and mood. You should take the necessary steps to advance your career rather than postponing or avoiding asking for a raise, a promotion, or additional training due to overthinking.
What is overthinking?
Overthinking is exactly what it sounds like: thinking about something too much or too long. It is simple to spend a lot of time thinking about cover letters, applications, and interviews when you’re looking for a job or competing with coworkers for a promotion rather than unwinding and focusing more on your current job or family.
How to stop overthinking at work
Too much or prolonged thought about a problem can prevent you from maximizing your performance at work and generally taking pleasure in your life. Here are some ways to help you stop overthinking:
Pay attention to the way you think
You must first learn to identify overthinking before you can begin to learn how to stop it. Many overthinkers spend most of their days ruminating and worrying about various things.
Ruminating involves contemplating the past. Here are some typical ruminating thoughts as well as advice for maintaining optimism:
Most of the time, people don’t notice the behaviors or errors they dwell on. By considering what you can do better the next time and recalling what you did well, you can cut down on the amount of time you spend ruminating.
Unlike ruminating, worrying involves making negative predictions. Along with suggestions for how to maintain optimism, the following are some typical worries of those who worry:
Overthinkers frequently associate their thoughts with images, emotions, and sounds. For instance, a person who is anxious about giving a presentation may picture various details, such as feeling nervous or making mistakes, or the expression on the boss’s face.
You need to pay attention to how you think and learn to identify it in order to stop overthinking from lowering your productivity and quality of life. In the event that you catch yourself ruminating or worrying, keep in mind that such thoughts are unproductive. Instead, make an effort to consider all the positive things that could occur. The customer might adore your concepts and request to collaborate with you on future projects. Nailing your presentation might even lead to a promotion.
Have some perspective
The best way to stop worrying is to consider all the potential benefits of your actions. Keep in mind that the majority of your efforts are likely to be fruitful. If not, you’d decide perfectly rationally to refrain from doing those things. For instance, there is a very small chance that the plane will crash whenever you travel by air. But it’s much more likely that a safe landing will be followed by a fantastic vacation. You shouldn’t let overanalyzing prevent you from having fun on that holiday or in any other aspect of your life.
Ask yourself how important the outcome is if you catch yourself ruminating or worrying about something insignificant. You don’t need to dwell on whether or not people enjoyed the cake you brought to the last office party, for instance. Nearly no one will recall who brought the food or how it tasted in a month or a year.
Focus on the things you can change
If you can’t take action on the subject you’re ruminating or worrying about right away, pay attention to other tasks. Start your day’s work, do the dishes, take out the trash, or do something else. Set deadlines for yourself throughout the day and focus on finishing the minor tasks that make up the bigger tasks. This will improve your ability to concentrate, boost your output, and cut down on procrastination and overthinking. Avoiding multitasking and taking regular breaks will help you avoid becoming exhausted or overwhelmed by a challenging or large project.
Wait until you’ve finished your current task or a few hours of work to check your email, browse social media, or read blog comments. You can eliminate distractions and avoid overthinking in this manner.
Get a good start every day
Your mood can change from the morning hours until you go to sleep at night. If you have a stressful morning, you’ll be more likely to think too much the rest of the day. Here are some techniques to reduce stress so you wake up feeling better:
Your day will get off to the right start if you want to make decisions, handle important tasks, and produce your best work without worrying too much.
Schedule some time for reflection
While spending too much time contemplating the past and potential issues is unproductive, some brief reflection might be beneficial. Set aside 20 or 30 minutes each day to reflect on anything you like. Consider the worst-case scenarios, and give yourself permission to worry for a while about improbable occurrences. To help you prioritize tasks and think of solutions to problems, write down your thoughts.
Keep in mind that you can think about that subject later if you catch yourself overthinking at any other time. This prevents you from being sidetracked by unfavorable thoughts and gives you time to think of solutions to your issues.
Focusing all of your attention, thoughts, and feelings on the present is known as mindfulness. When you engage in mindfulness practices, you will not fret about the future or dwell on the past. You don’t have to spend your time overthinking in order to enjoy life. Additionally, mindfulness helps you concentrate more clearly on challenging tasks like writing a report or making a budget.
To use this method, take your time, relax, and resolve to pay closer attention to your surroundings. Instead of allowing overthinking to keep you from enjoying the beauty of the flowers outside your office, take a moment to pause and do so. Find a pastime that you enjoy, such as knitting, painting, drawing, or music. Then, instead of thinking negatively, put all of your energy into concentrating on that task and all the feelings related to it.
Take slow, deep breaths through your nose if you begin to feel anxious or tense. Focus on every detail of your environment. You could take a moment to savor the artwork in your office, observe the clouds, or take in the beauty of a bloom. Like any skill, mindfulness requires practice, but with time, it can help you decrease overthinking and lengthen your attention span.
Stop being a perfectionist
Many people overthink because they feel they lack the intelligence, tenacity, or charisma necessary to achieve their objectives. Additionally, they might waste too much time looking for errors that don’t exist. If you make a mistake, keep in mind that nobody is perfect and that success never requires a flawless performance. Timely completion of a task can occasionally take precedence over eliminating all errors.
Realize that you cannot control everything
Overanalyzing is a common way for people to try and take charge of their lives. People think about every outcome that might result from their actions because they want to avoid failing. However, everyone makes mistakes now and then, and these mistakes can teach us important lessons. Overanalyzing a decision won’t increase the likelihood that it will be successful. Because it can prevent you from utilizing available opportunities or swiftly reacting to advancements or changes in your industry, overthinking is frequently referred to as analysis paralysis.
Thinking can never take the place of taking important decisions. Allow yourself an hour or two to conduct research, consult friends or coworkers for advice, and then make your choice. This allows you to gather all the information, give it some careful thought, and quickly make a decision without worrying too much about what to do.
Additionally, there are some uncontrollable factors that affect your success. For instance, if your interviewer is having a bad day or is preoccupied with urgent tasks, you might not get a new job. You should still apply, and give the interview your best effort.
What are the symptoms of overthinking?
Although it is not a recognized mental health condition, overthinking can be a sign of depression or anxiety. According to Duke, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and overthinking are frequently linked. The propensity to worry excessively about a variety of things is a feature of GAD.