Rushing Around… But Where’s the Fire?

How many times in your day do you feel like you were rushing around trying to put out one fire after another? How many times during the day are you actually at peace with yourself and you don’t feel like you have to hurry up to get to the next task on your list?

If you can go day in and day out without feeling the need to be rushing around from one fire, to another task to satisfy a need for someone else, to accomplishing something that you forgot to do yesterday… I applaud you. But that is not me! If you are like me and many others we have not figured out how to appropriately manage our time and our stressors. Thus, rushing around is all we know. It’s not healthy, but hey…we have made it this far, right?

From solving home issues, rushing to get my work done before deadline, trying to finish some personal assignments, the list doesn’t end. Managing personal health problems, drama at work, stress with significant others, bills, say what? We all have stressors and pressures in life. These struggles and different types of anxiety, can attack us from all angles of life. As someone who suffers from stress and anxiety, I know how important it is to keep the right perspective on things. Easier said than done though, right?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Also, easier said than done. It’s easy to think we can bottle up all the things in life that consume our thoughts, place them in a box, take them to God, set them down and walk away. Never giving another worry about them. I’m not too sure that’s what this verse calls us to do. You see, God wants us to take action. The action isn’t hanging it over to him to fix and not doing anything about it ourselves.

“So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah ‭41:10‬ ‭NIV

God’s promise does not free us from doing some of the heavy lifting ourselves.

We are not promised that God will solve our problems and we won’t have to pray, follow His word, or change some of our own behaviors. Giving our worries to God does not mean we are absent of having to make personal adjustments.

Here’s an example:

Having a full-time job, donating time to volunteer activities and other obligations at church can be hard to manage when it comes to time commitments. I send up all the prayers I can think of, beg God for a solution. While I do these things, I continue to cram my schedule and nothing changes. I pray harder, I get plugged in to the right communities, I surround myself with friends who have the same values, but still my prayers go unanswered.

Here’s the same example with a much different viewpoint:

Having a full-time job, donating time to volunteer activities and other obligations at church can be hard to manage when it comes to time commitments. While I send up prayers to God, I get organized and prioritize my schedule. Looking at the commitments I have made, I decide which ones I should prayerfully consider stepping down from. Seeking wise counsel, God begins to reveal to me which priorities are most important and advancing His kingdom. Then it becomes very clear what should stay on my schedule.

My first moments awake I spend with God. No, this was not always the case. I used to be so wrapped up in my work and social media, I would check on those things first. Now, before my feet hit floor (or at least while I’m brushing my teeth or in the toilet) I am spending time in the word. I’m reading, or listening to my daily devotional and praying for different areas in my life.

My last moments awake I spend with God. This too wasn’t always the case. Don’t tell anyone, but I have several shows I like to watch, but because I don’t have time (no pun intended) I downloaded them on my phone to watch later. I used to spend the last hours of my days watching TV. Not anymore. A very close friend of mine told me about an app that will help me in reading inspirational stories, which I have been using. If it’s not that, I’m listening to worship music as I drift asleep. This forces me to relax my mind and make every attempt possible to close out my days peacefully.

When you aren’t sure… Just ask.

Seek wise counsel and identify the things in your daily life that are creating the most stress in your routine. Ask yourself, or even write down the pros and cons of that activity. If there are more cons on the list and you’ve gone to God in prayer over them, ask yourself if that particular thing is truly necessary to have you all worked up over and rushing around to accomplish on a regular basis.

How to Stop Overthinking Everything: 12 Simple Habits

What is holding people back from the life that they truly want to live?

I’d say that one very common and destructive thing is that they think too much.

They overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier than it actually is. They overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore.

Now, thinking things through can be a great thing of course. But being an overthinker can result in becoming someone who stands still in life. In becoming someone who self-sabotages the good things that happen in life.

I know. Because it dawns on me sometimes to overthink things a lot and it held me back in ways that weren’t fun at all.

Have done a lot of research and meditated on some points that have enabled me to control and overcome it.

In this article I’d like to share 12 habits that is helping me in a big, big way to become a simpler and smarter thinker and to live a happier and less fearful life.

1. Put things into a wider perspective.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life.

So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself:

Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

I’ve found that widening the perspective by using this simple question can quickly snap me out of overthinking and help me to let go of that situation. And to focus my time and energy on something that actually does matter to me.

2. Set short time-limits for decisions.

If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.

So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it’s a small or bigger decision.

Here’s what has worked for me:

For small decisions like if should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.

For somewhat larger decisions that would have taken me days or weeks to think through in the past I use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.

3. Stop setting your day up for stress and overthinking.

You can’t totally avoid overwhelming or very stressful days.

But you can minimize the number of them in your month and year by getting a good start to your day and by not setting yourself up for unnecessary stress, overthinking and suffering.

Three things that help me with that are:

Get a good start. I’ve mentioned this many times by now. And with good reason. Because how you start your day tends to often set the tone for your day. A stressed morning leads to stressed day. Consuming negative information as you ride the bus to your job tends to lead to more pessimistic thoughts during the rest of your day. While for example reading something uplifting over breakfast, getting some exercise and then getting started with your most important task right now sets a good tone for the day.

Single-task and take regular breaks. This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and to get what’s most important done while also allowing you to rest and recharge so you don’t start to run on fumes. And this somewhat relaxed mindset but with the narrow focus will help you to think clearly and decisively and avoid winding up in a stressed and overthinking headspace.

Minimize your daily input. Too much information, too many times of just taking a few minutes to check your inbox, Facebook or Twitter account leads to more input and clutter in your mind as your day progresses. And so it becomes harder to think in a simple and clear way and easier to lapse back into that familiar overthinking habit.

4. Become a person of action.

When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.

Setting deadlines and a good tone for the day are two things that have helped me to become much more of person of action.

Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that have worked really well.

It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want flee into procrastination. And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.

5. Realize that you cannot control everything.

Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you don’t risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool.

But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes.

But in most cases they’ve also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.

So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance.

This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.

6. Say stop in a situation where you know you cannot think straight.

Sometimes when I’m hungry or when I’m lying in bed and are about to go to sleep negative thoughts start buzzing around in my mind.

In the past they could do quite a bit of damage. Nowadays I’ve become good at catching them quickly and to say to myself:

No, no, we are not going to think about this now.

I know that when I’m hungry or sleepy then my mind sometimes tend to be vulnerable to not thinking clearly and to negativity.

So I follow up my “no, no…” phrase and I say to myself that I will think this situation or issue through when I know that my mind will work much better.

For example, after I’ve eaten something or in the morning after I have gotten my hours of sleep.

It took a bit of practice to get this to work but I’ve gotten pretty good at postponing thinking in this way. And I know from experience that when I revisit a situation with some level-headed thinking then in 80% of the cases the issue is very small to nonexistent.

And if there is a real issue then my mind is prepared to deal with it in much better and more constructive way.

7. Don’t get lost in vague fears.

Another trap I’ve fallen into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that I’ve gotten lost in vague fears about a situation in my life. And so my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something.

So I’ve learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

And when I’ve figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that often pretty unlikely thing happens.

I’ve found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce.

Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes and bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.

8. Work out.

This might sound a bit odd.

But working out can really help with letting go of inner tensions and worries.

It most often makes me feel more decisive and when I was more of an overthinker then it was often my go-to method of changing the headspace I was in to a more constructive one.

9. Get plenty of good quality sleep.

I think this is one of the most commonly neglected factors when it comes to keeping a positive mindset and not get lost in negative thought habits.

Because when you haven’t slept enough then you become more vulnerable.

Vulnerable to worrying and pessimism. To not thinking as clearly as you usually do. And to getting lost in thoughts going around and around in your mind as you overthink.

So let me share a couple of my favorite tips that help me to sleep better:

Keep it cool. It can feel nice at first to get into a warm bedroom. But I’ve found that I sleep better and more calmly with fewer scary or negative dreams if I keep the bedroom cool.

Keep the earplugs nearby. If you, like me, are easily awoken by noises then a pair simple earplugs can be a life-saver. These inexpensive items have helped me to get a good night’s sleep and sleep through snorers, noisy cats and other disturbances more times than I can remember.

Don’t try to force yourself to go to sleep. If you don’t feel sleepy then don’t get into bed and try to force yourself to go to sleep. That, at least in my experience, only leads to tossing and turning in my bed for an hour or more. A better solution in these situations is to wind down for an extra 20-30 minutes on the couch with, for example, some reading. This helps me to go to sleep faster and, in the end, get more sleep.

10. Spend more of your time in the present moment.

By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.

Three ways that I often use to reconnect with the present moment are:

Slow down. Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.

Tell yourself: Now I am… I often tell myself this: Now I am X. And X could be brushing my teeth. Taking a walk in the woods. Or doing the dishes. This simple reminder helps my mind to stop wandering and brings my focus back to what is happening in this moment.

Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself : STOP! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.

11. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.

Your social environment plays a big part. And not just the people and groups close to you in real life. But also what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life.

So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourages and tends create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.

Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and input that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tends to strengthen your overthinking habit.

12. Be aware of the issue (and remind yourself throughout your day)

Being aware of your challenge is important to break the habit of overthinking.

But if you’re thinking that you’ll just remember to stop overthinking during your normal day then you’re likely just fooling yourself.

At least if you’re anything like me.

Because I needed help. It wasn’t hard to get it though. I just created a few reminders.

My main one was a note on the whiteboard I had on one of my walls at the time. It said “Keep things extremely simple”. Seeing this many times during my day helped me to snap out of overthinking faster and to over time greatly minimize this negative habit.

Two other kinds of reminders that you can use are:

A small written note. Simply use a post-it note or something similar and write down my whiteboard phrase, a question like “Am I overcomplicating this?” or some other reminder that appeals to you. Put that note where you cannot avoid seeing it like for example on your bedside table, your bathroom mirror or beside your computer screen.

A reminder on your smart phone. Write down one of the phrases above or one of your own choosing in a reminder app on your smart phone. I for example use my Android phone and the free app called Google Keep to do this.