We sensitive sleepers are very good at (over)-thinking (read: worrying and stressing which are the biggest reasons for poor sleep) but sometimes not so good at taking an action. Why? Because change is hard. Change is hard for an individual as it is for a company, not to speak about a nation in a recession. It’s not that we don’t want to change but we often do it only when we don’t have any other choice left. We are not very good planners either, and any transformation requires a good plan. A good plan means realistic, reachable goals so that we feel pride and joy for every successful step we take forward. In most cases, there are no short-cuts to the final destination. It’s all about persistence, commitment and baby steps. This calls for nerves and above all patience.
What we think matters. It’s easy to get caught in the spiral of thinking, carried away by stories that seem real and cloud perspectives. The key is to detach our mind. Sounds simple, but we know it isn’t. Sensitive sleepers also have a tendency to build catastrophic scenarios. As if a negative thought isn’t enough on its own: there has to be more! Here’s a collection of useful tips how to stop over-thinking.
1. Learn to let go
It’s hard to admit this but we can’t control everything. Some things simply are beyond our reach. Writing down our worries and following them up will increase our understanding. Some worries require actions, some require acceptance. If writing isn’t enough, you could also try yoga, especially therapeutic, restorative yoga. You don’t need any earlier experience to do restorative yoga. Find qualified teachers in here.
2. Make fast decisions
Give yourself clear dead-lines and don’t mull decisions over for hours, days, weeks or even months. It’s okay to take some time to think through tough, live-changing decisions. But most of the everyday life decisions shouldn’t require a lot of your time. Here’s what I do: I prioritize my decisions and leave the hard ones to rest for a more mature moment and simply move on with the easy ones as soon as possible. Also, not every decision goes right so I have made a pact with myself that some of my decisions are simply allowed to go wrong.
3. Take actions
The first step is often the hardest, but it’s the most important. If we want to get rid of over-thinking, we must start to take actions, unfortunately reading is not enough. It’s great to be analytical (to some extent) but excessive doses only make us self-centered and desperate. Furthermore, an open mind to test and try is recommended. What works to your friend, might not work for you. Our causes differ, and so do our solutions.
4. Plan and track
A job well planned is a job half-done. When you plan your weeks and days you mind doesn’t have to remember everything all the time. Quite amazingly, 75% of people don’t plan their work days even though they feel that their work days are messy and chaotic. Studies also show that only 5 minutes of planning helps. So be kind to your mind and start planning. At the beginning of each week, write down the things you want to accomplish that week. Then strike over things you have done on daily basis. I love the feeling of structure and reward that good planning gives me. But most of all, I love the feeling that my mind doesn’t feel overwhelmed when it tries to remind me of every single issue there is to take care.
This is a no-brainer. Exercise releases all those nice hormones that make us feel good. It’s no accident that runners talk about being on runner’s high. It’s dope! Find an activity you love to do, then make it a routine and stick to it. Once exercise becomes a habit that’s part of your everyday life, you’ll notice that you do less over-thinking and simply enjoy life a bit more. We used to have much more physical jobs, just a hundred years ago. It goes without saying that being desk bound does no good for us.
6. Be mindful.
Meditation is a scientifically backed method to make lasting positive results to your body and mind. This said, hardcore meditation is not for everyone. Find your own way to meditate and be mindful, it can be walk in the nature, gardening, or a restful moment by yourself. Learn to be in that moment, love the silence and solitude, embrace your senses and just feel that moment. Even if’s only five minutes. Breathing consciously, slowly and deeply can have a profound impact on your life. It’s one of the best ways to help you put things into perspective and stop overthinking.
7. Start new
Many of us don’t think we have a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous because of work and family constraints. However, being spontaneous can be something as simple as trying a new food, getting a new hobby, or finding a new friend. The moment we learn new stuff and feel like growing again, we get that great vibe and thrill. Life is a mystery! Anything can happen!
8. Get help
A lot of times when you’re stuck, an outsider’s opinion can help you overcome your tendency to overthink and overanalyze. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to someone you respect and tell them about your challenges. You’ll find that most people are happy to help, and appreciate the fact that you respect them enough to ask them for help. Find lots of great experts (specializing in sleep and rest) in here.
9. Hold the vision
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan writes: “If we have a vision for where we want to go, then our behavior is more like to follow that direction. I call this the ‘power of intention’. It’s a bit like playing golf – you look to the spot where you want to hit the ball and then swing to hit that spot.” We know that our thoughts prepare us for good nights so getting rid of over-thinking and negative spiraling will not be good for us. Make a vision of perfect day and perfect night and stick to make it happen. Eventually, one thing will lead to another, consciously or sub-consciously.
Making a change requires leaving old habits and learning some new ones. We will miss our old habits even if we know that they do bad for us. So let’s practice some compassion towards ourselves and celebrate the steps we make towards the vision. This is hard work. When I noticed that I have given up majority of over-thinking (during the day) I also started to sleep better. Over-thinking and sleep clearly are married. Over-thinking doesn’t stop at 11 pm even though it’s a wonderful thought. In fact, my experience tells me that bad habits during the day only get worse in the early hours.
Does this list speak to you? What are your top 3 ways to stop over-thinking?