Self care ideas

How to stop over-thinking

How to stop over-thinking

Written by Alison Ralph                                                               Date: 6th January 2023

Our mind is a complex place, one that is still an anomaly even to the top scientists. It causes us to do some unusual things in its quest for survival. One of these things is over-thinking, especially about things that worry us or have a negative impact. AND all too often at times when we don’t want them to. We have all got into bed at some point and PING! a worry or thought comes into our minds and it can feel hard to control this. So how do you stop over-thinking? In this blog I will share some of the best ways to gain control of your thoughts and stop over-thinking.


I will help you to understand:

  • The reasons we over-think
  • Relaxation and why it is important
  • The worry chair
  • Journaling to stop over-thinking
  • Delaying your thinking
  • How talking to a counsellor can help
Lady with head in her hands because she is feeling stressed or anxious

Why do we over-think?

Do you get stressed, anxious or confused about the over-thinking that happens in your brain? Do you feel like nobody else is doing the same thing? I’m here to tell  you that over-thinking is normal. However, some people can control it better than others. So why do we over-think? What is the brain trying to achieve? 

The basic answer to this question is that the brain overthinks in order to survive. The brain’s primary goal is to keep us alive so this means that if we are faced with a problem of any kind, the brain kicks in and asks, ‘What is the best way to approach this in order to survive?’.

Now there may be a number of ways to approach something and so the brain run through the possible outcomes before choosing one. 

Of course when looking at over thinking it can be worsened by traits in our personality, our childhood and the behaviours we have learned and whether we allow time to think about our worries or if we are pushing them to the back of the pile somewhere. 

Research also suggests that overthinking can become a habit. Once our brain has gotten used to overthinking, it continues to do that because the process has become a habit. 

The good news is, there are ways to get out of this habit and be more in control of your thinking. 

When overthinking is going on in the brain it causes stress which in turn tenses the body.

If you’re experiencing stress in your life it creates tension in your body which then sends a message to the brain to say that you are stressed and you then start to worry about the stress.

Hopefully you can see how the thoughts and the tension in the body come hand in hand? It can become a vicious cycle if you don’t do anything about it.

This is where relaxation comes in. When we relax the body, it has many benefits; it tells the brain that we are calm so tension can be released, it can improve digestive health and lower blood pressure. Here are a couple of ways for you to practise relaxation. 

1. Mental visualisation

This is a great way to relax and one of my favourites because it draws on a tranquil place where you may have been before. 

Sit back and relax in your favourite chair or lay on your bed. Close your eyes and think of a calm relaxing place. A place where you could be and you would be without distractions or the stresses of life. Or just a space that is your ultimate tranquillity. There is no set rule for the place. It can be somewhere you have been before, such as a holiday destination, or a place you want to create in your mind. 

When you have thought of a place you can build up all the details here. The colours you can see, any landscape, any sound that you can hear in that place, things you could touch, smell or taste. Using all of your senses helps to activate each part of the brain and brings all focus to that one place and the feelings of calm. If you have been there before you might like to bring in some happy memories from the time you were there. Once you are ready to finish your relaxation you can open your eyes again.

This is a great way to bring calm and relaxation to the body. The brain inks your place with relaxation and calm and so the next time you come to do it, it will feel easier to bring that calm feeling to the body. It also frees the mind from any over-thinking because focus is on the visualisation. 

2. Progressive muscle relaxation

This is one that I like to practise often and brings a level of calmness to all parts of the body.
  • While in a comfortable position, preferably with your eyes closed, move your focus from one body part to the next, personally I like to start at my feet. Tense the body part as tightly as possible and then release all tension before moving to the next body part. 
  •  Include all muscles, even each muscle on your face. 
  • Contract the muscle for a count of 5 or 10 and let go suddenly. 
  • Finish with a few deep breaths and a stretch
  • Some muscles can just be clenched but other need to be contracted in a different way. Shoulders need to be shrugged by raising them sharply towards your ears, your forehead can be wrinkled into a deep frown and your eyes closed tightly. To clench your jaw and facial muscles you need to smile as widely as you can, your stomach can be tensed by sucking it in as tightly as you can and your back should be arched and then released.
It might seem a lot to remember to begin with but once practised a few times you will soon be able to complete it automatically and feeling the benefits. Progressive muscle relaxation should bring a sense of relaxation to your body and help you to feel less tense.
A lady feeling relaxed. Showing relaxation after hypnotherapy.

The worry chair

showing how calm my therapy room is

We have looked at how you can help the physical response in the body to over-thinking but what can you do to help keep those thoughts at bay? Some research suggests that over-thinking can actually be a habit and therefore once you have go into that habit, you will have to unlearn it. This is where the worry chair comes in. If you are a serial worrier, the worry chair could be helpful for you. 

This is what you need to do:

  • Choose a chair in your house that you personally don’t use for anything else. Somebody else in the house might use it and that’s fine.
  • When you realise a worry is coming into your mind, you go and sit on the chair and you allow yourself to worry. 
  • Once you have done all the worrying for that moment, go back to what you were doing. 
  • Repeat the process once another worry comes into the mind. 
  • Or you might decide that between the times 1pm and 1:30pm you will sit on the chair and allow yourself time to worry, meaning that at any other time of the day you don’t worry

The idea of this technique is that you train your brain to worry at only certain times of the day, or for a certain amount of time. You become fed up of going to the chair and therefore go less and less and you become in control of your thoughts. 

It might not seem feasible if you work out of the home or if you are a busy person but it really is affective and shouldn’t take long to train your brain if you stick with it!


Journaling to stop over-thinking
This is a new concept I have been looking at recently and I can really see the benefits and have started to share the idea with clients. 
When we over-think, the thoughts are available for the imagination to create whatever it pleases round them.
For example, you may have a thought that you don’t want to do that talk in front of your colleagues and before you know it, your imagination has you being sick in front of them with nerves. You may then believe that this will happen and phone in sick to work.
However, if you had written this worry down on paper to begin with and explored your feelings about it and the most likely outcome, you may see it in more of a rational way and it will not have been picked up by the imagination in the same way. 
You might like to write down:
  • The thought you are having
  • How you are feeling in the body
  • The possible outcomes 
  • Whether any stressful events have recently happened for you
  • How stressed or anxious you are feeling on a scale of one-ten
  • How your generally well-being is for example, are you tired

Journaling not only allows you to get the thoughts out of your head, but it can help you identify patterns in your thoughts and feelings. So get yourself a little book and a pen and start writing!

Writing affirmations

Delaying your thinking

Have you ever noticed that worrying or over-thinking comes at the most inconvenient times? For example, when you lay down for bed at night or when your about to do something significant?
The good news is that you can delay your thinking until a time that is more convenient for you. Allowing you to be in control of your thinking. 
So when that thought comes into your mind you can simply say ‘I am happy to worry about XYZ but just not at the moment. I will worry about it at 10am tomorrow morning’. Or ‘I recognise that I need to think about XYZ and I will do it later’. 
Unfortunately, we do need to allow our brain to worry, it’s a part of what the brain does for survival.
Often people ignore the worries and this can create other issues. Here we are not ignoring the worries but simply saying we will do it at some other time. You can then wake up in the morning and at 10am allow yourself to have the worry. In some cases you will find that the worry no longer feels significant when you come back to it. 
Talking to a counsellor

Do all of these ideas feel impossible or are you unsure where to start or which one will work for you? Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed or just don’t think any of these will work for you? Seeing a counsellor may be the way forward for you. A counsellor can listen to you and your thoughts and help you identify what is happening in your brain or where these thoughts are coming from.

The counsellor may also be able to help you identify the best way forward in term of strategies you can use.

It may be that talking about the thoughts helps because it allows them to be out in the open and not deep within your imagination.

You may feel that your thoughts are too unusual or ‘out there’ to share with anyone but the truth is, counsellors have heard many different thought processes and are not there to judge!

They are there to facilitate you in over-coming a problem. They will be empathetic, show understanding and create a safe space for you to work through those thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about counselling and how it can help, I am happy to answer any questions. 

Alison talking to a client

If you are an over-thinker it can be an over-whelming feeling, often causing stress or anxiety.

These techniques are tried and tested ways to gain back control of that thinking and bring calm and relaxation to the body.

Of course each one will not work for every person and it may take some trial and error to find what works for you. It is important to stick to them and keep repeating the process to allow the brain to get into new habits.

If you feel that you need more help then talking to a counsellor might just be the correct route for you.

Remember though, it is your brain and your thoughts, you CAN gain control!

Get in touch...

If you would like to find out how hypnotherapy or counselling could help you I am here to answer all of your questions. 


Guest Blogs


Today’s blog post has been contributed by Pamela Rae-Welsh, a leading online visibility specialist and the face of Worsley Creative Services. Pamela has supported hundreds of small business owners with no jargon, actionable support to increase their online visibility and get their websites seen by the search engines. Pamela offers a range of services from programmes and courses to done for you SEO management, website builds and brand creation.
Pamela, Visibility specialist

The importance of resilience as a small business owner

Do you hide online so that you don’t poke the bear? Are you someone who doesn’t like to ruffle feathers? Would you be horrified if someone disagreed with your opinion? Do you avoid posting up bold statements for fear of judgement? You are not alone. But the reality is that the best content is when the message comes from your gut and your experience, your skill, and your knowledge. It’s time for you to face your fears and learn resilience, a trait every small business owner needs to have.
It is important to be genuine and authentic in anything that you do but especially when you are producing content for your small business. By being open and honest online, you are much more likely to engage with a new audience who will enjoy your content/products and start conversations which will draw more attention to your small business.
Even if you aren’t normally into social media, blogging or email newsletters or you’re scared of posting online, perhaps now is the time to try something new. Allowing yourself to let your guard down and be your honest self in front of potential clients will help them to get to know you. This will show that you are open and trustworthy, which will make people want to engage more with you and your business. This process will help you to slowly build up your resilience as a small business owner.

Here’s how to get more confident with being visible in your niche

1. Stay Humble

Errrhhh isn’t that the opposite of what you’ve just said? Nope! Being confident to put your knowledge out there with humility and knowing that others may have a different opinion is the ultimate sign of respect. Be humble in acknowledging the different views of others and where those views come from and you’ll be able to post up your content more confidently.
Respect that others will have different opinions to you, and that this doesn’t mean you can’t continue to stand by your own. At the same time, being able to see another take is an invaluable skill which shows you can adapt and have an open mind.

2. Be approachable

Encourage debate, inspire conversation and accept that others have differing views. Being open to different opinions is really powerful – as it sets you apart as a LEADER in your field.

3. Set boundaries for when things get toxic

This one is important. If someone gets personal, if someone gets rude, if someone says something egregiously false – that’s your red flag to stop the conversation. Being open to encouraging debates and giving a platform for opinions is powerful – allowing yourself or others to be bullied or misled, is not.

4. Demonstrate the results

Show why you have your opinions and approaches to what you do. Demonstrate the results and this will help your audience to see your credibility and authority in your niche.
You must know exactly why you are doing or saying the things you are doing and saying – this will help to keep you focused on the main aims of your small business and remind you to not take things personally. So try not to waffle about things you aren’t an expert in. Focus on showing people, through your results, that you are useful and provide value to your niche.

5. Keep learning

No one knows everything. Demonstrate to your audience that you have a commitment to learning and developing your skills and leadership and this will go a long way in building your credibility.

Still feeling scared about putting yourself out there as a small business owner?

Feeling fear is only natural but you have the power to overcome these fears. To feel the fear and to do it anyway is part of becoming a resilient small business owner. If you’re afraid to share your opinion for the first time, talk it through with someone who can advise you first, so you can get their feedback and feel more confident in your actions. If it helps you, plan what you’re going to say. You should also remind yourself why sharing your opinion is worth enduring any nervous feelings and think about what you will get out of it.
I also recommend that you start putting yourself out there ASAP. Today even! Don’t wait to become confident before speaking your mind. Confidence is something we have to constantly practice as
business owners – it’s very “fake it til you make it” – but by putting your opinion out there now and dealing with the positive (and potentially negative) results,
you are showing yourself that you have got this, and you just have to be brave enough.
You should also try to detach yourself from your business when it comes to criticism. By focusing on your customers and your business, you are not making it about you. This will make it easier to grow a thick skin against negative feedback because you are much more than your work. You will become resilient and criticism will be useful to your business rather than damaging to your ego.
Just remember to always make sure you’re being authentic to yourself. You are a business owner. Not a comedian or a political commentator. You don’t have to force yourself to have an opinion on something just because it’s expected of you. You’re not expected to be hilarious or overwhelmingly intelligent all the time – people make mistakes and learn from them. If people do negatively react to them, remind yourself that they do not know you or your processes and it is more of a reflection of their insecurities.
Pamela; helping small business owners

Becoming resilient as a small business owner is a slow process, but you can do it!

I know that putting yourself out there can be scary and overwhelming. But you shouldn’t fear putting it out there because of judgement or worry that someone will disagree. The more you stand up for your beliefs and what you know is right – the more you become credible in your niche and build the Know, Like & Trust factor. If you could use some advice on putting yourself out there and increasing your online visibility as a small business owner, check out my SEO Beautiful Privilege Group.

Get in touch...

If you would like to find out how hypnotherapy or counselling could help you I am here to answer all of your questions.