How to Stop Overthinking and Befriend Your Brain for Good

Learn how to stop overthinking and quiet the chatter in your brain. Change negative thoughts to positive and become your loudest, proudest cheerleader.


Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash


How we think about ourselves affects our emotions. This thinking, in turn, drives our actions. Then, our actions and behaviors ultimately shape the trajectory of our lives. So, rampant negative thoughts that detract from your well-being can harm you. Negative mind chatter distracts and takes away joy from your life. To help, it is useful to learn some techniques for how to stop overthinking and better control your mind. If you learn how to stop overthinking, you'll be able to quiet your negative self-talk on demand. You can improve the way you feel, increase productivity in a day, and improve your entire life.


Here are ways to train your brain so you can know how to stop overthinking and start thriving.


Practice Mindfulness Meditation


Mindfulness meditation is a traditional Buddhist practice. During it, you sit quietly and learn to observe your own thoughts. Practicing mindfulness teaches people to simply observe the thoughts and images that appear in the brain. It helps show people that you don't have to attach to them or identify with them.


It can take a long time to learn how to notice and identify your own thoughts during meditation. At first, when you sit for mindfulness meditation, you may have a barrage of thoughts. They may not be identifiable from each other. Alternatively, you may sit there and hear or think nothing. However, over time, you'll get better at identifying a thought, allowing it to occur, and allowing it to pass.


The goal of mindfulness is not to stop thinking. It's simply to learn to notice your thoughts so you can identify with them less. If you can learn how to sit quietly, you can see what sensations and thoughts simply appear and then disappear. Then you can better understand that thoughts are just that: thoughts. They're things that pass through your brain, not something that defines who you are.


Mindfulness meditation has a slew of benefits, including the ability to learn how to stop overthinking. Practicing it teaches you to not attach to or engage with your thoughts. It can also slow down the thoughts and chatter in your brain. This gives you space to choose what to think about.


Want to know more about the background of mindfulness meditation, and how it became widely accepted in the West? Read our guide here. It can help you understand how mindfulness works and how it has been used throughout history. Fully embrace its power and incorporate it into your life to improve your experiences.


Journal Your Thoughts


Journaling is one of the best techniques to learn how to stop overthinking. When you journal, don't be fussy about what you write. Instead, simply spill everything in your mind out on the page. Studies have shown that journaling all your thoughts into words written on a page can make them less distressing. This means you are less likely to ruminate or fixate on them.


By journaling, you can not only feel relieved of thoughts and lighter, but also learn to examine the thought patterns you have. You can also examine the content of your thoughts so you can get to the root of your anxieties and fixations. This is the first step to understanding what might be bothering you. It can also show you what might be causing the anxiety that starts off the mind chatter.


Journaling is a great way to get ahold of your thoughts. But another great way to ensure your mental health is good and your thoughts are healthy is getting enough sleep. Science shows that sleep is essential for avoiding depression and boosting positive moods. Read more about the importance of sleep for your mental health by clicking here.


Become Your Best Friend


Your brain is a powerful tool and it can do tons of awesome things for you. But, it can also house an "inner critic" or a mean, internalized voice that constantly insults you or doubts the things you do or the person you are.


Luckily, however, an inner critic isn't something people are innately born with. It's learned over time, usually based on the things you heard trusted adults say to you as a child (or the things you heard them say to themselves). However, the best way to silence that inner critic is to become your own best friend.


Every time the voice of the inner critic appears in your head, speak back to it as you would speak to a friend. Say the things you would say if you heard a friend speaking to themselves harshly. Remind the inner critic of how you are worthy of love and kindness. Tell it how talented and capable you are. Prove how much love exists in your life.


Getting rid of the inner critic and practicing self-compassion is a powerful way to improve your mental health. This is especially true if you want to learn positive techniques to stop overthinking. Then you'll be able to use your thoughts as fuel for success.


One tip for stopping your inner critic is imagining a small child you love when you talk to yourself. You'd never speak to a young person you care about unkindly or harshly. So, if you get used to speaking to yourself as if you are tender and worthy of love, you can help create a new pattern of automatic positive, loving thoughts.


Use Affirmations


Affirmations are repeated positive, motivational phrases. Use affirmations throughout the day as a way to stop thinking negative thoughts.


Essentially, using affirmations for mental health entails repeating a positive or motivational thought. You should do this enough times so you can internalize it. Once it is internalized, you can believe it.


Affirmations have also been shown to be stress reducers, if you can turn to them as a coping mechanism during tough or hectic times. One good way to stop negative thoughts in your brain is to replace them. Memorize a positive affirmation related to a negative feeling about yourself. Then, you can use the affirmation any time you hear a negative thought pop up in your mind.


If you can notice your negative thoughts, counter those thoughts with your repeated affirmation time and time again. Eventually, you'll notice that your brain will more regularly default to the affirmations. Time spent thinking about the words and meaning of the affirmation will help create new neural pathways in the brain. These new pathways will eventually become default thoughts. Over time, they will likely become as frequent (or more so) than your old negative ones.


Here's an example of what an affirmation might be. Maybe you're a person who thinks negatively about their body all the time. So, when you notice yourself having a negative thought about your body, use an affirmation. You can think, "I am so grateful I have a body that lets me experience my life and the world." It is a true and neutral thought that shifts your focus from negativity to gratitude.


As with mindfulness meditation, you might not be able to notice and identify each specific thought right away. Yet, the more you practice meditating and sitting still to listen to your mind, the more skilled you'll become. Then you can use affirmations as your go-to technique for how to stop overthinking. Be patient with yourself as you develop these skills. Consider writing your affirmations on sticky notes. Then put them throughout your house or office in places you regularly look. The more you can internalize the positive affirmations in your mind, the more likely they are to become regular thought patterns.


Now that you know how to stop overthinking, you're ready to conquer your mental wellness. Curious about other ways to improve your mental health? Consider mastering nutrition as a means of controlling your emotional and spiritual wellness. Click here to read our guide to the connection between nutrition and mental health. Get some ideas for ways you can eat that will ultimately improve your mood and boost your spirits.