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5 Strategies to Tame Overthinking and Harness Creativity

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Dr John Kounios, a neuroscientist and author, once stated that clear thinking at the wrong moment can stifle creativity and limit problem-solving.

Overthinking, the relentless cycle of incessant thoughts that loop through our minds, can be both a blessing and a curse. While it helps us analyse situations and make informed decisions, excessive overthinking can lead to anxiety, stress, and a sense of overwhelm.

Here are some strategies to overcome overthinking

Strategy 1: Meditation 

Have you ever felt like your mind is racing a hundred miles per hour, thoughts bouncing around like popcorn in a pot? It’s like your brain has a mind of its own, and it just won’t stop chattering. That’s what we call overthinking, and it can be a real pain in the neck.

But fear not! There’s a super cool way to calm that wild mind of yours and bring some peace into your life. It’s called meditation, and it’s like giving your mind a cozy blanket to snuggle up in.

Step 1: Tune in

First things first, take a deep breath. Ah, that’s better. Now, close your eyes if you can, or just soften your gaze. Pay attention to the feeling of your breath as it goes in and out. Don’t try to change it, just notice it.

Step 2: Be a watcher

Imagine you’re watching a movie. But this movie is the movie of your mind. You’re not in the movie, you’re just watching it. When thoughts pop up, that’s totally normal. Let them do their thing, like clouds passing by. You don’t have to chase them or get caught up in them.

Step 3: Kindness is key

Sometimes, thoughts might drag you away from your breath-movie. That’s okay! Just gently, like a feather, bring your attention back to your breath. Be kind to yourself – no need to get frustrated. You’re learning a new skill, after all!

Step 4: Take a break with guided imagery

Here’s a bonus trick: guided imagery. Picture yourself in a calm place, like a sunny beach or a cozy forest. Imagine the sounds, smells, and all the little details. This mini-holiday can help calm your mind even more.

Strategy 2: a date with your thoughts

Imagine your thoughts as curious butterflies fluttering around in a garden of ideas. Setting time limits is like inviting them for a brief visit, giving you the chance to enjoy their beauty without letting them take over.

Step 1: Tea time for thoughts

Picture yourself sitting down with a cup of tea, ready to have a heart-to-heart chat with your thoughts. Choose a cozy nook, set a timer – maybe 10 minutes or so – and get ready to explore.

Step 2: Thoughtful exploration

As the timer starts, let your thoughts wander freely. Take a leisurely stroll through your ideas, gently examining each one. Think of it as an adventure where you’re the explorer, discovering treasures in the landscape of your mind.

Step 3: Time’s gentle reminder

When the timer lets out a friendly chime, it’s like a gentle reminder that your tea time with thoughts is coming to an end. Just like bidding adieu to a friend, acknowledge the end of this visit with a smile.

Step 4: Blossom into action

Now that you’ve had your cozy chat, it’s time to transition into action mode. Imagine those butterflies taking flight, carrying your newfound insights. Whether it’s diving into a project or relishing a hobby, let your refreshed mind take the lead.

Setting time limits is like hosting a short, sweet gathering with your thoughts, allowing you to engage without losing track of time. By doing this regularly, you’re nurturing a balanced relationship with your ideas, giving them space to shine while ensuring they don’t overstay their welcome. 

Strategy 3: Reframe negative thoughts

Ever caught yourself in a loop of gloomy thoughts, like a cloudy day that just won’t clear up? Well, it’s time to play thought detective and give those negative notions a run for their money.

Step 1: Spot the sneaky thoughts

Picture your mind like a playground, and negative thoughts are those sneaky kids trying to cut in line. Take a moment to notice them. Are they saying you’re not good enough or that things will go wrong?

Step 2: Question the bullies

Imagine you’re interviewing those negative thoughts, like a reporter on a mission. Ask them, “Hey, is that really true?” Challenge them to show some evidence. Often, they’ll stumble and lose their grip.

Step 3: Flip the script

Now, it’s your turn to take the spotlight. Replace those gloomy thoughts with positive ones. If the thought says, “I’m terrible at this,” respond with: “I’m learning and improving.” It’s like turning the script of a sad film into an uplifting tale.

Step 4: Repeat the encore

Negative thoughts might try to sneak back in, like uninvited guests. No worries! Keep this script-flipping technique handy. Every time they show up, give them the positive twist they deserve.

Strategy 4: Engage in physical activities

Time to move! Physical activities act like a breeze, sweeping away overthinking. Whether lifting, walking, or jogging, they shift your focus from thoughts to the present.

Imagine your worries as baggage. Activities help you set it down, feeling the release. Your body becomes a vessel for calm, offering clarity and peace.

It’s a reset for your mind. Heart rate up, mind follows. Swirling thoughts settle, leaving you lighter and ready to face anything.

So let physical activities be your secret against overthinking.

Strategy 5: Practise gratitude – counting blessings

Imagine your thoughts are like a seesaw – one side holds your worries, the other side holds your blessings. Practicing gratitude is like adding more weight to the blessings, lifting your spirits and toppling those worries.

Step 1: Pause and reflect

Take a moment to think about the good things in your life. It could be as simple as a warm cup of coffee in the morning or the smile of a loved one. Acknowledge these little moments.

Step 2: Express thanks

Imagine sending a mental “thank you” to each of these blessings. Feel the warmth in your heart as you appreciate the positive aspects of your life. Gratitude is like a cozy blanket for your mind.

Step 3: Shift your focus

As you focus on the good, worries naturally take a backseat. It’s like giving your mind a fresh coat of paint, covering up the dull patches with vibrant colors of positivity.

Step 4: A grateful heart

Carry this sense of gratitude with you throughout the day. Whenever worries try to sneak in, remind yourself of the blessings that outweigh them. It’s like building an armor of positivity against overthinking.

By practising gratitude, you’re planting seeds of positivity that grow into a beautiful garden in your mind. It’s a simple yet powerful way to silence the noise of overthinking.

Soufiane N. is a passionate writer and mental health advocate. Soufiane is the founder of The Mindful Messenger.

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