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March 20, 2023

10 Tips to Reduce Overthinking

Teaching is a rewarding profession that allows educators to shape the minds of the next generation. However, it can be a challenging job that requires constant adaptation to different learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds of students. As a result, many teachers find themselves struggling with overthinking, which can impact their effectiveness and overall wellbeing.

Overthinking is a common issue that affects many people, not just teachers. It occurs when the mind gets stuck in a loop of excessive worrying, analysis, and rumination. For teachers, overthinking can manifest in several ways, such as second-guessing lesson plans, worrying about student outcomes, or analyzing their own performance in the classroom.

While some degree of reflection is necessary to improve teaching practices, overthinking can become a problem when it starts to interfere with daily functioning. Teachers who overthink may find it difficult to relax, experience constant stress, and struggle to make decisions. It can also lead to burnout, where teachers become emotionally and physically exhausted from the demands of their job.

So, how can teachers avoid overthinking and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

1. Get outside. Connect with nature to calm your mind. Strengthening your bond with nature can benefit your mind and remind you that we create most of our stress. Remember that nature doesn’t struggle through life and neither should you. Peace resides within you, but nature can provide solace from modern society’s strains.

2. You are an observer. The world is an illusion, and you are a tiny part of the cosmos. Don’t get caught up in stressful events as they are temporary. Observe without attachment, knowing you are a perfect soul unaffected by the world.

3. Repeat peaceful words. Observe your thoughts and notice overthinking around daily tasks, negative interactions, and self-doubt. Combat stress with calming words like tranquil, calm, and peaceful. 

4. Move forward. Giving mental focus to past mistakes or traumatic events may lead to excessive worrying and depression. It can cause you to feel stuck and unable to move forward. It’s essential to address issues and overcome limitations, but focusing too much on past traumas becomes counterproductive. Consider journaling about your feelings or talking to a trusted individual to process past events and shed old emotions that no longer serve you. 

5. Live in the moment. Avoid ruminating on future tasks and uncertainties. Most anxiety stems from not living in the present moment, so focus on the present. Live in the moment to regain a sense of true peace, just as you did as a child.

6. Focus on the positive. Combat negative overthinking by focusing on positivity and gratitude. Look around your immediate surroundings and think of 3 things you are grateful for. This strategy will bring peace and reduce overthinking. Remember, energy flows where attention goes.

7. Release control. Anxiety sufferers fear losing control and overthink to prepare for the worst, but it leads to constant fight-or-flight mode. Overthinking may feel empowering, but reality can throw curveballs. Let the universe handle the outcome, and focus on controlling your reactions to the situation.

8. Sit in silence. Sitting in silence can help provide a space to observe and acknowledge thoughts without getting caught up in them. Through this practice, we can learn to detach from our thoughts and let them pass without judgment or reaction. This can bring a sense of calm and clarity to the mind, reducing the urge to overthink.

9. Get moving. Exercise is an effective way to manage overthinking as it diverts attention away from the negative thoughts. Physical activity produces endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, reducing the impact of stress on our minds. Regular exercise also improves our sleep quality, which in turn helps to reduce anxiety and overthinking. 

10. Understand stress is created in your mind. Our mind is a constant interaction between our thoughts, emotions, and physiological responses. When we encounter a perceived threat, our brain activates the stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response. This triggers the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare our body to deal with the threat. However, when we experience chronic stress, these hormones can have negative effects on our health and well-being. Our thoughts and beliefs about the situation can further exacerbate our stress levels, leading to overthinking, rumination, and anxiety. 

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