• Joanne Greaves

How to manage overthinking and worry.

When we are feeling anxious, worried or triggered by a stressful situation we can become stuck in overthinking or ruminating about it. This can cause feelings of overwhelm, upset and discomfort.

This can cause a person to seek reassurance, or engage in gambling, drinking or taking drug or looking for answers on the internet. All these things may seem to help short term but they can also cause the loop of worry to escalate and keep the worries going. Mayne it feels like your mind is stuck in the same thoughts and worries, this can be frustrating and upsetting.

Noticing our thoughts

  • When our mind is busy and overthinking it's important to first of all notice what the thoughts are about and what they may be trying to tell us. It may not be clear but usually its because our mind is trying to protect us or it feels scared about something. We all have an inner critic and it's purpose is to warn us in a bid to protect us from danger and but it can do it in a negative and unhelpful way. Once we notice the message behind the thoughts, we can thank our inner critic for trying to alert us but then challenge the unhelpful negative thoughts. This may be difficult to do alone but with the help of a counsellor they can help you to work through and unravel unhelpful thoughts.

Writing it down

  • Another helpful way of coping when your mind can't let go of overthinking and worrying is to get a piece of paper and just write everything single thought you are having down. This can be helpful, as by writing down our worries, stresses and feelings a different more logical side of the brain is used to when we are overthinking. This can help us to let go of the worry and give it some distance or find a solution or understand ourselves better. Keeping a journal can be very useful when feeling anxious, stressed or depressed.

Useful Technique

  • A useful approach to use for powerful upsetting thoughts is to apply the Stopp method which is a Cognitive behavioural technique. This can be helpful for reframing thoughts that cause a strong uncomfortable emotion as it helps provide space to let the thoughts and feelings pass.


  • Stop - pause

  • Take a few deep breaths

  • Observe what is going through your mind or what are you feeling in your body

  • Pull back and put into perspective - imagine what advice you would give a friend or what would a trusted friend say to you about it, Is the thought fact or fiction, how important is the thought will it be still important in 6 months' time?

  • Practice what works - proceed. What is the best thing to do now for you? e.g., find a solution, talk to someone, let the thought go and get on with a task or some form of exercise to distract yourself.


  • Distraction whether it is through doing exercise, arts and crafts, reading or phoning a friend can switch the mind off from over thinking. When we are distracted, we may still be thinking but we engaging our minds in other activities and it can help to switch off negative thoughts that are repetitive and unhelpful. Taking up an enjoyable creative hobby can also help our mood which will produce more positive thoughts and feelings.

Talking with a professional

  • Talking your thoughts through with a professional counsellor can be really effective as they can help to uncover what is causing the worry and this will help you to learn ways to cope when you are feeling stuck in thoughts.

You can find me on Counselling directory/Psychology Today or visit my website for more information

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