overthinking, survive motherhood, mama disrupt

Are you overthinking? 8 ways to retrain your brain

In Features, Health & Wellness, Mind Health, Stories, Wellness by Nicole Fuge

Do you have a busy mind. Is it overthinking or reflecting? Petra Joly from The Pod Health Co shares her top tips on how to slow down and calm a racing mind.

By Petra Joly

Do you consider yourself an overthinker? 

This is a term that many of my patients tag themselves with and I always hesitate to agree. Quite the opposite in fact, I believe you are ‘thinking’ and possibly ‘reflecting’ which are both very important ways to be human.

I am not sure where the negative connotation comes from. In Buddhist philiosophy, reflection is wise and greatly respected; a way to learn from our thoughts, behaviours and feelings and help us make wise choices going forward.

Why in Western culture, is this seen as ‘over’ anything? Could it be a male construct to keep women in their place? 

It is up to us women to make a stand, not buy into that terminology, see our thoughts as a positive and avoid the negative self-doubt spiral.

If you are you often plagued with a barrage of worrying thoughts, aim to learn from them. What are they trying to tell me? Constant worry can be a time and energy thief and we can fall into the trap of second-guessing ourselves and focus on the ‘what if’s’.

If you think you might fall into this category, do yourself a favour and try to become more mindful to notice when and why you are worrying. Here’s a few tips to slow down, and calm that racing mind.


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1. Pay attention to your thoughts

Notice when you’re stuck in your head or when you’re having negative looping thoughts. Start paying attention to your thoughts so you can become aware of the problem.

Busy brains can become a sneaky habit you don’t notice until it becomes an issue and you become stuck in a negative cycle. Acknowledge that these thought patterns aren’t productive and aren’t helping the situation.

2. Focus on what is in your control

If you have trouble dropping the thoughts altogether, try to focus on problem-solving or a way around the issue rather than obsessing over it. If it’s a problem you don’t have any control over, focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and mindset.

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3. Think like an outsider

Challenge your thoughts and try to take a step back and assess the situation from an outsider’s perspective. Is the situation as bleak as you think it is?

It’s a good idea to allocate 20 minutes of thinking time to your day, where you can reflect and hash out any worries that are bothering you.

After that, try to have a positive outlook and focus your energy on more productive thoughts and if those pesky worrying thoughts start to crawl back in, tell yourself it’s not your allocated thinking time & it will have to wait.

4. Keep a journal

Write down the things that are worrying you before you go to bed. Once you’ve written them down, release the thoughts that are troubling you, try to replace them with positive thoughts and get some rest.

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5. Change the subject

Distract yourself by doing something you enjoy. Redirect your attention to something positive and useful, be it a book, a podcast, a youtube tutorial, or listening to the music you love. It’s impossible to relive the past when you’re living in the now and focusing on being present.

6. Don’t let yesterday carry over to today

Try not to rethink yesterday or old conversations, leave them in the past where they belong. Rehashing the past won’t do any good in the now.

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7. Slow down and calm down

Do you catastrophise? Are you constantly thinking about the worst possible outcome and jumping to conclusions with no real evidence? Do you replay conversations in your head and assume you knew what the other person was thinking?

Try to slow your mind and reason with it. The worst possible outcome is unlikely and there are many more likely rational outcomes, so take a moment to take a deep breath in, recognise that you are catastrophising and let it go on your out-breath.

8. Train your brain

When you notice these negative thought patterns creeping in, instead of entertaining them, actively stop them. Imagine you are flicking them out the window, and putting a protective shield around you so the negative thoughts bounce off you.

Retraining your brain to replace the negative thoughts with pleasant and positive thoughts that make you feel good, really will change your life. You’ll start to notice that you have a new outlook on life, feel mentally stronger and things that once bothered you, won’t be worthy of your time.

You’ll realise that you’ve broken the old habit and formed a new, much more fulfilling way of thinking. And you’ll be in a much happier place. Also know, that some days are going to simply be shit, but tomorrow will be better!

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