7 Ways to Stop Overthinking Big Decisions

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I have been known to think a lot about things before making a decision. Sometimes, you could even argue that I think too much. While I completely stand behind the notion that fully considering your options and the impact your decision will have is necessary in order to make good decisions, there is definitely an extreme to this that can do more damage than good. Some of the damaging results that can come from overthinking include:

  • Lost opportunities from taking too long to decide
  • Increased likelihood that you won’t be able to make a decision at all
  • Feeling paralyzed by the inability to decide
  • Increased fear, anxiety and stress about all decision-making
The good news is that it’s easy to recognize when you’re starting to overthink, and you can stop yourself before you lose sleep or create extra stress. Here are a few things I do to avoid overthinking when I am faced with a big decision.

Just Commit

An obvious solution to overthinking is to make a decision and fully commit to it. Once the decision is made and there’s no going back, you are forced to embrace the decision you made and the risk of overthinking is gone.

Set a Time Limit

Give yourself enough time to consider all of the options, but set a hard stop time. Use the time to think through all of the impacts your decision will have, but force yourself to make a decision and let go when it comes time.

Put It In Perspective

Think about the decision in relation to everything else in your current life and where you expect to be in the future. Even if it directly relates to your ultimate happiness and success, it’s just one decision and is unlikely to make or break everything in your life.

Go with Your Gut

What was your knee-jerk reaction when you first faced the decision? Many times, this is the best choice, and even if you spend days considering your options, your first thought may be the right one.

Ask for Help

If you’re stuck and unsure which way to go, a sounding board can be invaluable. Ask a colleague, family member, friend or even a mentor or a coach. External input can help you put the decision into perspective.

Take a Break

If possible, give yourself a night to sleep on it. It’s amazing how things usually seem clearer when you can approach them with a fresh mind and new outlook.

Give Up on Perfection

Aiming for the perfect outcome can be one of the reasons you have trouble making a decision; I know it is for me! It can help if you remind yourself that nothing is perfect and that no matter what, you will learn something from the process. Have you ever been caught overthinking a big decision? How did you finally get past it and make a choice? Image credit: krilm

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Overthinking

What are some common signs of overthinking?

Overthinking is often characterized by an inability to stop dwelling on thoughts, events, or worries. It can lead to excessive questioning, analysis, and replaying of past or future scenarios. Other signs include difficulty in making decisions, constant self-criticism, insomnia due to racing thoughts, and feeling a general sense of mental exhaustion.

How does overthinking affect my mental health?

Overthinking can lead to serious emotional distress. It can cause anxiety, depression, and stress, which can further exacerbate the cycle of overthinking. It can also lead to a decrease in problem-solving ability and creativity, as the mind is constantly preoccupied with worry and doubt.

Can overthinking be a symptom of a larger mental health issue?

Yes, overthinking can be a symptom of several mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If overthinking is causing significant distress or interfering with your daily life, it’s important to seek professional help.

How can I stop overthinking at night?

Establishing a regular sleep routine can help. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid screens before bedtime and create a relaxing environment in your bedroom. Mindfulness exercises, like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, can also help quiet the mind.

Can physical exercise help in reducing overthinking?

Yes, physical exercise can be a great way to break the cycle of overthinking. It helps reduce anxiety and improve mood by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters. Regular exercise can also improve sleep, which can be disrupted by overthinking.

How can mindfulness and meditation help with overthinking?

Mindfulness and meditation can help you stay present and avoid dwelling on past events or worrying about the future. They train your mind to focus on the present moment and accept it without judgment, which can help break the cycle of overthinking.

Can professional therapy help with overthinking?

Yes, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in treating overthinking. CBT helps you learn to identify and challenge your thought patterns, develop problem-solving skills, and learn coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety.

Are there any specific foods or diet that can help reduce overthinking?

While there’s no specific diet to stop overthinking, a healthy diet can support overall mental health. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and walnuts, and foods with high levels of antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables, can support brain health.

Can overthinking be beneficial in any way?

While overthinking is generally seen as negative, it can also indicate a high level of creativity and intelligence. It can help you consider different perspectives and outcomes in decision-making. However, it becomes a problem when it leads to stress, anxiety, and inaction.

How long does it take to break the habit of overthinking?

The time it takes to break the habit of overthinking can vary greatly from person to person. It depends on various factors like the individual’s level of self-awareness, willingness to change, the strategies they use, and whether they seek professional help. It’s a gradual process and requires patience and persistence.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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