top of page

How to Stop Overthinking Everything

Do you ever have difficulty getting to bed because your mind is on an endless to-do list? Do you think about all the bad things that could possibly happen tomorrow and how you might deal with those things? Do you ever find it difficult to be present or sit still because your mind is going a mile a minute?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be an over-thinker. Overthinking is a common phenomenon in our modern world and something that I see quite often in my psychotherapy practice in Pasadena, CA. Here are some common Q & As on this topic to help you gain a foundational understanding of overthinking:

What is overthinking?

Overthinking – also referred to as rumination in depression, apprehensive expectation in anxiety, obsessions in OCD or intrusive thoughts in PSTD – can manifest in a number of ways. In depression, it can look like recurrent negative thoughts about themselves, others and the world. In anxiety, it may look like imagining all of the things that could possibly go wrong in the future. In OCD, it can look like repetitive thinking about getting sick. In PTSD, it can look like re-experiencing a traumatic event.

What causes overthinking?

Overthinking is a common symptom of a number of mental disorders, but many people who don’t meet criteria for a diagnosis also overthink as a response to stressful life events or difficult decisions. When life circumstances overwhelm an individual’s capacity to cope, they will use psychological mechanisms to reduce the pain they feel, even if those tools aren’t the most effective. One way that people escape the discomfort of their experience is to stay in the thinking realm, which is less painful than feeling the emotional or even physical pang of grief, fear or anger.

Is overthinking bad for mental health?

Thoughts, feelings and physical sensations all influence one another. Anxious states create more anxious thoughts and anxious thoughts create more elevated anxious states. When an individual is unconscious of this cycle or lacks the tools to break it, the cycle intensifies over time and becomes more habitual. If not treated, the person eventually becomes anxious about having anxiety and panicked about the thought of having another panic attack.

How to stop overthinking everything

In American society, we’re conditioned from an early age to use reason and logic to solve problems. So, when faced with adversity or uncertainty, it’s normal to want to “think” our way out of it. The challenge here is that we can think our way into anxiety – the thought itself acts as a trigger and the body reacts with a survival response (fight/flight/freeze) to keep us safe – but we can’t think our way out of anxiety. The only way out of anxiety is to return a sense of safety to the body. And the best way to get out of your head is to get into your body.

How to return the nervous system to safety? This is done through mindfulness and somatic (body-based) practices like:

  • Bringing awareness to physical sensations

  • Deepening the breath

  • Giving oneself deep pressure

  • Getting the body moving

  • Listening to soothing music

…to name a few. The trick here is to make these mind/body practices an ongoing habit so one can retrain their mind toward self-soothing whenever overthinking is detected. Just like the mind got into the habit of overthinking to escape pain, it needs to get into the habit of restoring calm to the body with mindfulness.

Check out my video on how to stop overthinking everything:

Now I’d love to hear from you:

  • Do you have a tendency to overthink?

  • What triggers overthinking or makes it worse?

  • Conversely, what tools work best for you to get off the hamster wheel of overthinking?

As always, take what works and leave what doesn’t. I hope you found a helpful nugget today. Thank you for reading and be well. xo Natalie

Crisis Support

If you need help right away, please utilize the following crisis resources.


This post is meant for educational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for diagnosis, assessment or treatment of mental conditions. If you need professional help, seek it out.


About the author

Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping ambitious, creative millennials achieve everything they want in life, career and relationships. I provide in-person therapy in Pasadena and online therapy throughout California. Click here to get started.

Related Posts:


bottom of page