How to stop overthinking everything

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Remember back in the good old days (like maybe a week ago) when all your obsessing involved your career or love life or the way you may or may not have messed up your most recent interview? You weren’t busy overthinking. Faster than you can say pandemic, we’ve all started obsessing the same exact thing, the Coronavirus and the way it’s affecting all our lives.

Try to turn your focus elsewhere

“If you are prone to obsessing, and the coronavirus has you obsessively thinking about the implications of the virus, try to focus your energy on other, more positive initiatives in your life,” advises Dr. Taryn Stejskal the former Head of Executive Leadership Development at Nike, who now runs her own coaching company, Resilience Leadership.  While some people might not be open to the idea of looking at a bright side in all of this, Stejskal offers ways to use all that energy in pursuit of a positive end result. “For example, use your energy to do the things for self-improvement or around your home that have been on your to-do list forever, but have languished due to lack of time. Would you like to learn a new language? Read all the books by your favorite author? Take a college course online? Focus on an in-home fitness and nutrition routine?” This might be the ideal time to allow yourself to spend some time on yourself with none of the guilt.

There’s no shame in finding a silver lining

We’re all going to be spending a lot of time at home in the coming weeks, so trying to find a silver lining doesn’t mean that you aren’t taking all of this seriously, but rather that you might find someplace else to focus some of that negative attention or energy. Or as Stejskal puts it “Now is the time to focus on our own self-development free of many of the distractions and commitments we often have on our busy calendars.” And that also means that if doing nothing at all has always been on your agenda, that’s fine too. Designate time to meditate or fill bags with clothing to drop off at Goodwill if that’s what makes you feel like your time is well spent.

Try writing or drawing about it

While many experts recommend journaling to work through issues like anxiety, artist Dawn DeVries Sokol took it a step further and recently started a Patreon account to offer art journaling classes. She’s keeping the price low—only $6.00 per month—since she realizes that a lot of people might be tight on money right now. “I’m calling it “Keep Calm Art Journaling,” she told Ladders. The idea came to her because “I had been thinking about teaching online again but just couldn’t find a focus.” Sokol isn’t focused on the earnings potential with this venture, but instead created this to “reconnect with the art journalers I know and friends online.”

Is there a hobby or artistic pursuit that calms you? This would be a great time to find a community of likeminded souls and create together.

Make a list

“It’s usually worries and anxiety to some extent that is causing overanalyzing,” shared Kat Burki, founder of Kat Burki Cosmetics. “Of course, there is mindfulness and mediation to help clear the mind, which for me has worked but often, that is not always practical as there is work to be done and a level of analysis that is needed. Creating lists really help me.” Burki explained that for her, lists help because “It helps in getting it out of the mind yet knowing it is still going to be addressed. One thing running a company does for you, teaches you to not overreact and put things into perspective. At a certain point, you have really experienced it all before and know everything works out.” Burki has learned to approach things to step by step. “For instance, these two things need to happen first for this to happen next.  Once those two things are checked off, now onto the next.”  

Manage your social media intake

At the best of times, social media can make your mood plummet depending on your existing state of mind or life’s circumstances. But with so many people working from home for the first time, there can be a temptation to waste even more time tweeting or updating your Facebook status. You should probably do just the opposite right around now and build time into tune out. “I have a few tools that help me achieve clear thinking and discernment much of the time. First, I build in chunks of time throughout my week when I am away from my phone,” shared Ava Zahn, Founder of Earthwise Beauty. “I try to be disciplined and not check my social media accounts after 6 pm. I also pay attention to how posts from different accounts affect my self-esteem and regularly unfollow accounts that inadvertently end up making me feel poorly about myself or what we are doing as a company.” 

Burki has also learned to take social media less seriously. “As far as the internet and the news, if you start to feel negatively from it, turn it off and laugh it off.  Nothing good comes from negativity,” she said.  

Find offline ways to do your work when possible

Zahn also takes a lot of her research offline to avoid spending too much time making comparisons between herself and her competitors. “When I want to research a topic to understand it better, I usually resort to printed books instead of researching online, as this way I get an opinion from one author, one voice at a time, and then I know that the author didn’t write down his or her opinions quickly, but took at least several months to write the book.” 

Zahn is also a fan of calming herbs and flower essences and recommends paper birch and weeping willow as two to consider.