13 Secret Weapons For How To Stop Negative Overthinking

Tips from a Christian counselor on how to stop negative overthinking, so you can get back to enjoying life with your family.

Wondering how to stop negative overthinking?

Sometimes, it’s just hard to turn our brains off. There are so many things to think about, worry about, stress about, plan for, consider, and focus on… but this overthinking makes it impossible to be fully present in the moment with your family. 

Do you want to give your kids your full attention? Connect with your husband even on a busy day? To enjoy the small moments of family life together?

I know I do! And I know that when my brain gets stuck on overdrive, it’s really, really difficult to enjoy life.

In our last episode, we looked at how to handle negative thinking. Today, I’ll share some counseling tips and tricks that can help you stop OVERTHINKING things, so you can get back to enjoying Christian family life instead.

Ready? Let’s dive in. 

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The power of your thought life

There are plenty of things to think about every day. 

Let’s face it: you’re a mom! There are a million things you can think about for your personal life, your kids, your husband, world affairs, spiritual thoughts, and even more. 

But how often do you think about what you’re thinking about?

When you’re struggling to manage emotions, the first place to look is at your thought life. What negative thoughts are popping up in a hard moment? These thoughts will lead your emotions in a certain direction… and if that direction is toward anger, depression, or anxiety, you’re in for a rough day. 

And as a mom, your emotions will decide the atmosphere of your entire home. 

Sure, you can grit your teeth and smile through the hard emotion. But do you really think your kids aren’t feeling that tension? That your husband isn’t noticing?

Take control of your thoughts and you can take control of your emotions. Only then can you start to truly communicate well and go on to deepen your family relationships.

The power of negative overthinking

So, you want to take control of your thought life. There are usually two types of thinking that get our emotions all tangled up and heated.

  • negative thinking
  • overthinking

Both are difficult to deal with! Sometimes, your brain might get stuck on all of the bad things that are happening. You might find yourself thinking things like “I’m a bad mom” or “My marriage will never get better.” These are negative thoughts that are unhelpful, untrue, and ungodly. 

READ NEXT: The Best Exercises To Stop Negative Thinking In Its Tracks

But sometimes, the thoughts aren’t necessary hurtful and negative, but they just won’t turn off. 

This is overthinking. 

And yes, you could technically get stuck “overthinking” about positive things. Your gratitude list. A wonderful, uplifting sermon that you heard. You might daydream about a fun, intimate moment with your husband.

If you’re struggling with emotions, this is probably not your struggle with overthinking. Usually, this means you’re struggling with negative overthinking. 

If the “what ifs” get you going, or you can’t turn your brain off to fall asleep at night, you need to figure out how to stop negative overthinking. 

How to stop negative overthinking

As you’re trying to tackle this pattern of negative overthinking, you have to start by recognizing that it’s happening in the first place. 

Catch the thought train as soon as you can!

Then, you can hit the pause button. You can refute the negative thoughts, challenging them and questioning how accurate or helpful they really are. (Get more tips that right here.) 

So now you’ve stopped the overthinking… but what happens next?

How do you stop yourself from falling right back into that trap a few minutes later?

Typically, stopping the thought does not change the situation or the emotions you’re having in the moment. Even refuting and challenging the thought might only encourage you for a few minutes.

That’s where these 13 tips come in handy. 

13 tips to stop negative overthinking

After you’ve recognized the negative overthinking has started up, and you’ve paused to challenge that train of thought, you need to replace the activity of overthinking with something else. 

Here are a few of my favorite ideas from the counseling room:

  1. Distract yourself with something else that you have to actually focus on. Read a book, pay your bills, have a conversation.
  2. Call someone to reach out to something to talk it through and get their perspective.
  3. Pause and pray. Ask God to stop your thought pattern and focus you in a new direction.
  4. Stop and think it through. Go to the logical conclusion so you can have a plan for all of the “what ifs”. Typically, it won’t be as bad as you think. And once you feel prepared, the power of the negative overthinking goes away. Having a PLAN makes the emotion easier to manage
  5. Journal through the emotions and thoughts, to get it out of your head and onto paper.
  6. Start thinking about a truth about God instead. His character (good, faithful, loving), his relationship with you (savior, rock), or a helpful Bible verse
  7. Stop and be grateful. Focus your thoughts on what you are thankful for instead of what you are worrying about. You could even write down a gratitude list!
  8. Take action ASAP to start changing the situation. There is probably something you can do, even if it feels small. Do it. Yes, even if it’s technically someone else’s responsibility – you’ll feel better taking action
  9. Take a nap. Sleep helps!
  10. Eat a snack. Get your body back on track with some nourishment. 
  11. Sing. Get some music going. Music has a way of changing our emotions, and it can be a great release of energy or stress to belt out a great song. Try to choose something upbeat, not a slow, sad song.
  12. Play with your kids or a pet. This is calming, fun, and connects you with someone you care about. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
  13. Do some physical activity. Negative overthinking often builds up stress in our bodies, such as dealing with tight shoulder muscles. So release some stress by exercising, stretching, or another activity.

What if I'm still dealing with negative overthinking?

These 13 tips will help you in the heat of the moment, but it will take time to build a new habit. After all, habits are powerful, and those automatic ways of thinking are powerful. 

Just take it one thought at a time. 

Sometimes, one of these 13 tips will solve it in the moment. You’ll move on to something else, and you won’t come back to that same thought. Other times, you’ll have to keep coming back to these same action step.

(If that happens, make sure to do #4 and think things through to their logical conclusion. Create a plan of action for all of the “what ifs” and they will lose their scary power.)

Remind yourself of what helped last time, and try it again. 

And rehearse it! Keep practicing these steps. Recognize the overthinking, pause it and refute it, replace it with a new activity, and then rehearse that NEW habit again and again. 

Listen to Episode #136

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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.