Exhausted by (over)thinking? Here’s how to stop.

I’m exhausted by thinking.

A client said that to me recently, and I found it so relatable. I know many who are exhausted by thinking. Or perhaps, more specifically, overthinking.

She was ruminating on myriad things—a commitment she wanted to back out of, a situation with her daughter, and so on. Her primary concern was, of course, the outcome of these situations. Outcomes that hadn’t happened yet.

Mark Twain once said, “I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.”

Ain’t that the truth?

The reality is that our addiction to thinking (or worrying and mulling) is fruitless. We can’t alter events of the past, and the future has yet to unfold. So spending time and energy fretting over what has happened or might happen is a waste.

I think we all know this logically, and yet we worry. (I’m certainly guilty of this.)

In those moments of anxiety, what I’ve found to be the most helpful is to relentlessly focus on the present.

The present is where we live now. It’s where we have choices to make—choices that will ultimately create wanted or needed change in our lives. And it’s those small choices we make today that set us up for a brighter future.

But how to stay in the moment? I have a couple of tricks in my bag that I’m happy to share.

I turn off distractions. That means silencing my cell phone and closing my laptop. I redirect my attention to the people around me and let myself sit with the discomfort of not knowing how things will play out.

I meditate. I’ve recently shifted my morning routine to include a few minutes of meditation, where I calm my mind and focus on what the day will bring. It grounds me and helps to keep the worries at bay.  

I put my head down and work. I have big dreams and goals, which can, at times, distract me from ruminating. But other times, they can be a source of worry themselves. So I stay focused and do the work I can today to get the payoff tomorrow.

By the way, all turned out just fine for the client I mentioned earlier. Which is almost always the case, isn’t it?

Next time you find yourself overthinking, channel our friend Mr. Twain, and remember that most of your troubles never even happen.

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