Whether you’ve recently started a new job or you’ve been at the same organization for years, you’re bound to get stressed from time to time. That can cause you to overthink your work and your relationships with your team. But you can totally avoid going down this path. Read on to learn how to stop overthinking at work so you can keep a clear mind and be your best self.
What is overthinking?
Overthinking is thinking about something obsessively – so much that it’s more hurtful than helpful. It can lead to you coming up with thoughts and ideas that aren’t quite aligned with your reality. It can happen at work when you’re anxious or nervous, but you can make it less likely.
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How to stop overthinking at work
Overthinking can make it tougher to enjoy your work and do it well, but it doesn’t have to be part of your work life. Below are some tips on how to stop overthinking at work.
- Be mindful of your thoughts
- Focus on what you can control
- Start your day on a good note
- Leave time for self-reflection
- Forgive and forget
- Listen to your negative thoughts, and overcome them
- Don’t be a perfectionist
- Accept that everything isn’t in your control
1Be mindful of your thoughts
Instead of worrying about what will happen tomorrow or dwelling on the past, focus your thoughts and feelings on the present. This is called mindfulness, and to reach it, you should slow down, breathe, and become more aware of your surroundings.
Try to find the beauty in the little things, such as the blooming flowers on your walk to work or your delightful morning coffee. Take a few minutes to look at the artwork on the walls, or head outside and enjoy a few moments in the sun. You might come back to work with a clearer head.
2Focus on what you can control
If there’s nothing you can do about your stressful situation, then focus on something you can control. For example, you can clean your office, take out the trash, or start something else on your task list.
Let’s say a big project is causing you to overthink. An easy solution is to set deadlines for finishing some smaller steps along the way. This can help you focus and not feel overwhelmed since you can avoid seeing the project as a whole.
3Start your day on a good note
How you start your morning can have a big impact on how you feel the rest of the day. Here are a few things you can do to start your day off right.
- Wake up early so you aren’t in a rush.
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep the night before.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Go for a walk.
- Go to the gym before work.
- Watch a TV show that will make you laugh or uplift your spirits.
When you start your day from positive, healthy places like these, it can be easier for you to manage your stress levels.
4Leave time for self-reflection
A short moment of self-reflection can help you make sense of problems without dipping into overthinking. Set aside about 20 minutes each day to let yourself think about whatever you want. You might have a revelation and find some great ways to solve problems or prioritize your tasks.
5Forgive and forget
You’re human, and humans make mistakes! No one is perfect all the time. What matters is how you react to a situation and what you learn from it. So if you make a mistake, remind yourself that other people make mistakes and might be more forgiving than you think. That’ll make it easier for you to forgive yourself and stop overthinking.
6Listen to your negative thoughts, and overcome them
Let’s say you missed a deadline recently. Overthinking would look something like, “Uh oh, this is how I get fired.” Nonsense – just because your mind defaults to anxiety doesn’t mean this is going to happen. If anything, overthinking is how you come up with unrealistic scenarios. Before you work yourself up too much, learn how to peel the mask off your anxiety and look at what’s behind it. That’s a great way to nip anxiety and overthinking in the bud.
7Don’t be a perfectionist
Overthinking can happen if you feel like you’re not smart, talented, or charming enough to succeed. You might spend a lot of time trying to fix mistakes that don’t exist. If you find yourself falling into this trap, then just remind yourself that no one is perfect. Sometimes, it’s better to turn your work in on time than spend an extra hour or two trying to fix every bug.
8Accept that everything isn’t in your control
Maybe you’re overthinking because you crave control. You might think that, if you know every possible outcome, you can avoid failure. First of all, failure isn’t bad! If anything, you can reframe failure and learn from it.
Second of all, since overthinking can make things really overblown and unrealistic, it might lead you to more mistakes. Instead, accept that you can’t control everything – and as long as you navigate the waters confidently, you’ll probably do great.
Why should you stop overthinking at work?
If your overthinking starts to become a habit, research shows that it can impact your overall well-being. In an interview with the radio station KERA, Ashley Carroll, a psychologist with Parkland Memorial Hospital, said the following:
“When [overthinking] becomes destructive to our life or really impairs our daily functioning, so for example, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night because you can’t turn these thoughts off, that’s impacting your daily functioning.”
Overthinking can also affect your physical health. Some people who have negative thoughts can experience stomach problems and headaches. An oft-cited Journal of Abnormal Psychology study found that overthinking can lead to depression and anxiety too. This doesn’t have to be you!
Plan ahead and stay organized with Fellow
Avoiding overthinking can help you feel more confident and productive at work – and help you to enjoy the present moment. A great first step to stop overthinking at work is finding a space to plan ahead and stay organized. With Fellow, you can organize your ideas, build collaborative meeting agendas, receive peer feedback, and so much more – all under one streamlined platform. Now, you can plan your day better, know what’s ahead, and ease your stress.