We know these situations too well:
You’re racking your brain late at night for tomorrow’s exam. You’ve been studying all week and know the material like the back of your hand, yet you’ve convinced yourself you’re unprepared.
You’re staring at your phone, re-reading your last message. “Why did I say that?” You think you misspoke and wish you could take back what you said.
You’ve answered a question incorrectly in front of your entire class. You look at your peers and begin to feel paranoid. “Does everyone think I’m stupid?” You’re embarrassed and agonize over it even after class has let out.
We’ve all been there. As college girls, over-thinking comes with the title. While thinking and analyzing can, to an extent, help us stay alert and focused, it can also absorb and paralyze us. Over-thinking shouldn’t prohibit us from reaching our potential. Why over-analyze and stress about things that are in the past or out of your control? It’s time to start utilizing the following mind exercises, some of which are scientifically proven to help combat the stress and anxiety that come with over-thinking.
TALK TO YOURSELF
When over-thinking starts to wreck havoc on your life, take a moment to pause and talk to yourself. After all, you do know yourself like no one else does, right? Remember to put things into perspective. Often, what causes us to over-think the most are the things that are out of our control. There are no benefits in torturing yourself and over analyzing your every decision. When talking to yourself, understand that striving for perfection is unrealistic. “There is no such thing as perfect.” Embed this into your brain! You can only do your best and it is simply impossible to control everything.
INCORPORATE EXERCISE INTO YOUR LIFESTYLE
Over-thinking can cause our stress levels to sky rocket, leaving us completely and utterly overwhelmed. One of the best ways to exercise your mind and relieve yourself of this stress is to get in touch with your body. Exercise isn’t only for physical appearance; working out also does wonders for your mental health. While work and school might get in the way of exercising, note that small and simple exercises can be greatly beneficial for your mind—especially yoga.
Physician and yoga instructor, Dr. Loren Fishman, explains that yoga is found to “[thicken] the layers of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with higher learning, and [increase] neuroplasticity, which helps us learn new things and change the way we do things.”
Furthermore, exercise can help erase the indecisive behavior that comes with over-thinking. According to a study by The Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, exercise is proven to influence the decision-making stage of information processing, speeding up responses without compromising accuracy.
PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE
We are social media crazed in this day and age. Sometimes the best way to alleviate over-thinking is to take a digital cleanse. Tip: Try putting away your phone and logging out of your social media accounts every night at 8 pm. Give yourself the evening to relax and de-stress. Taking a short break and “unplugging” will give you the opportunity to focus on the things that really matter. Step away from your group chat and make time to connect with your friends in person. Sometimes the worst anxiety can be caused by what’s going on in your digital world, so put it away and don’t let it contribute to your over-thinking!
Journaling is one of the best mind exercises for over-thinking, stress, and anxiety. When the pressures of your everyday life are causing you to over-think, try turning to writing. When you write out your thoughts, fears, and worries they become easier to process. Try incorporating ten minutes of journaling into your daily schedule. You can also try having “a happy place”—a safe space where you can feel comfortable and content as you write. Look for a pretty outdoor spot or a cozy nook with an inspiring view.
After a long day of school or work, sometimes our problems feel much larger than they are. It is easy to agonize over your every decision from the day, leading you to high stress levels and over-thinking. Sometimes a lack of sleep or state of tiredness can be to blame.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.” Even more, they explain that sleep “allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation.”
Sleep is vital for a state of well-being, so try getting as much as possible. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Even if your schedule is demanding, remember that the more you sleep, the less you will over-think and stress!