When you worry, do you get caught up in overthinking?

It’s a common thing that happens. We are stressed, so we get caught in a thinking spiral of what ifs and worry. I call this being trapped in a rabbit hole, where you’re just swirling downward and downward. It’s important to learn coping skills for worry and overthinking.

When the situation is out of our control, overthinking can just cause us to lose focus.

The next time you are stressed, take a look at the situation. If there are things you can control, take steps to problem solve them. In this instance, thinking can be a good thing. Still, if there are things you can’t control (like the length of a pandemic), you might need some coping skills to help reduce worry and overthinking.

Read on to find out things you can do to help stop the worry cycle.

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How to stop the cycle of worry and overthinking

Simply noticing that you are overthinking something can help stop the spiral for a bit. Dr. Sarah Allen, a Chicago area psychologist, has some great ideas for how to spot overthinking and ways to cope. I particularly like her idea of stopping to notice the surroundings. That moment of mindfulness can help us reframe the situation and bring us back into the present (rather than down the rabbit hole).

A moment of mindfulness can help to bring your awareness back to the present moment.

Creativity can also help us cope. When we were children, we often used creative means to process the world, particularly if it was stressful or sad. Luckily, we can do the same as adults (Bonus points if you do these activities together with your children):

  • Write a story. You can create a character that represents your stressor and a character that represents all the strengths you bring to the situation. Or just write a story about whatever you want! This is a great activity to do together as a family.
  • Work on a puzzle. Jigsaw, crossword, sudoku–all of these can help you calm your brain and refocus on the present.
  • Bake and cook. I don’t need to tell you the power of this activity. Just look at all the pictures of bread all over the internet.
  • Lose yourself in a good book. When is the last time you read a book for fun? Join a book club or reading challenge. Read a book as a family. And listen to an audiobook, if focus is a problem.
  • Play. Make up a game. Play board game with a twist (you make up new rules). Or just run around outside with your pet.
  • Get outside. Garden, walk, run, swim, etc.

If you don’t think you are creative, never fear. Creativity can be learned. And if it’s still not your thing, there are other ways to refocus your mind. Cleaning and organizing your space can be an incredibly mindful activity (and it creates visual peace in your household). Volunteering and doing kind things for others can also help. Finally, simply just phoning a friend can help stop the rabbit hole of worry and overthinking.

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