How to reduce overwhelm and gain control over your thoughts

by Abigail Jane

When does overthinking strike?

I help clients to reduce overwhelm and regain calm because is vital for our wellbeing and enables us to think more clearly and operate effectively. We often feel overwhelmed when we overthink. And this often happens in moments where we are trying to relax and stop for a moment. Like when we are trying to get off to sleep – our bodies slow down but our monkey mind starts to race.

What happens when we overthink?

This image from Manager School helps to demonstrate what happens when we overthink. Our thoughts tend to move away from the central circle (things we can control) out to the edge where we are concerned, but have no control over what happens.

As a solution focussed coach, it is not my place to say that this is wrong or negative, but I will ask my clients two questions which you could also ask yourself, ‘Is thinking about this within my control? And is this helpful?’ If the answer is no, we will look to ways we can bring back focus to the area of things we can control. Then we reduce overwhelm and allow us to feel we can take action – then switch off!

Ways to reduce overwhelm and regain control

To reduce overwhelm by stopping the spiralling thought patterns, my top tips all centre around bringing our awareness back to our bodies and away from the mind. This can put the brakes on unhelping worrying and reset our brains for more purposeful, calmer ways of working.

  1. Use your five senses. What can you touch, smell, see, taste and hear in the moment? This demands attention and takes your brain away from the overthinking cycle.
  2. Counted breathing – this is an easy method which you can do anywhere without anyone noticing. A great technique if you’re at work, for example.

Once you’ve broken the cycle, you can then refocus and look at what you can control. Perhaps write a list to get the ideas out of your head, and you can feel calmer and more in control.

Reduce overwhelm at night

  1. Body scan – go from head to toe, identifying any areas of tension and try to relax each part of the body one by one by sending breath there and imagining the area melting and relaxing. I love to do this in bed when I need to switch off and sleep.

What do I have control over?

When we are focussed on what we CAN control, we feel far more motivated and less overwhelmed. Try drawing out the circles above and write down the things on your mind, deciding whether they are going in the circle of concern, influence or control. Then prioritise the thoughts in your inner circle to reduce overwhelm and regain calm.

Some helpful websites

I love the CALM website for tips on helpful thinking and relaxation. Check out this link which details some of the techniques mentioned above, along with some alternative things you can try.

Let me know in the comments below what works best for you!

Abigail-jane-coaching-life-coach-bristol

Hi I’m Abi

professional life coach and career coach in Bristol. I work remotely anywhere in the UK and in person for locally based clients.

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