How to Stop Overthinking: Tips for Students & Parents

  • ACIO
  • November 24, 2023

“Overthinking keeps you moving but takes you nowhere.”

Unlike adults, children don’t have to worry about finances, jobs, careers, and household chores, but that does not mean they do not have their own set of problems.

Managing school and coaching classes, school trips, exam/test grades, peer pressure, project work, competitive exam preparation, etc., are some of the pain points children tend to think about. Though a bit of thinking is good, overthinking often complicates things. Like adults, children and teenagers are prone to overthinking, and when disappointments and dissatisfaction mount, they might get nervous, which leads to anxiety. Parents want to assist their children in overcoming this terrible sensation of overthinking because children who can manage stress and solve everyday difficulties acquire a sense of confidence and optimism, which will help them overcome life’s challenges at school and subsequently in life.

So what are the side effects of overthinking that will disrupt a child’s mental health, and how to deal with these universal and typical nervous feelings? Here we’ll present some tips and advice for both students and parents to help them stop overthinking, worrying, stress and anxiety.

What is overthinking?

Overthinking is the situation where a person or child continuously thinks or worries about the same thing/thought over and over again. Overthinkers may become immobilised by their concerns, causing them to struggle with decision-making.

Side Effects of Overthinking:

Overthinking can take a severe toll on children’s emotional and mental health. Side effects of overthinking include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Emotional absenteeism
  • Stress
  • Difficulty in decision-making
  • Difficulty in day-to-day activities
  • Concentration troubles
  • Aggression
  • Resentment

Moreover, suppose children are fixated on overthinking for the long term. In that case, they are more likely to develop severe mental health issues.

How to stop overthinking?

Here are some practical tips to help students stop overthinking:

1. Practice mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment without judgment. It allows your mind to shift the attention to your body and really focus on your breathing rather than negative thoughts. By being mindful, students can reduce their stress levels and prevent overthinking. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are excellent ways to practice mindfulness.

2. Find a distraction:

Sometimes, it is better to engage yourself in distractions to break free from that overanalysing haze. Find anything that interests you, like dancing, singing, exercising, playing an instrument, painting, drawing or knitting, etc., to relax and take your mind off the problems. It’s always nice to divert your attention to joyful, uplifting, and healthy alternatives.

3. Control your emotions:

It’s crucial to control your thoughts before they get out of hand. When overthinking escalates, take a step back and assess the circumstance and your behaviour. Dig deeper and try to identify the root cause of your problems. When you become aware of the reasons for your overthinking, you can take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. You must learn to recognise your overthinking behaviour when it occurs in order to start addressing or managing it.

4. Live in the moment:

Living in the moment is your key to stopping overthinking. Appreciate your surroundings, notice little things, breathe and enjoy what you are doing at the moment rather than overthinking. It will require conscious awareness at first. Go outside, take a walk, breathe fresh air, and try to enjoy life as much as possible! You may train your brain to live in the moment with the help of daily practises like meditation, but you’ll soon realise that it comes naturally.

5. Focus on positivity:

Understandably, it’s easier said than done but try to be as positive as possible. Every morning or evening, make a list of things that goes right. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and people. Let the feeling of positivity and gratitude sweep through your mind to wander off any toxic vibes.

6. Put things into perspective:

Before you let yourself sink into overthinking, ask yourself, “Is it really that bad, or am I overthinking?” It’s easier to make the situation more complicated and negative than it has to be. It’s okay if you’ve performed poorly in a test. You can always work hard, learn from your mistakes and score better marks in the next one. Changing your perception will help you stop overthinking.

7. Stop chasing perfection:

Perfection is a myth. Nobody is perfect, and pursuing perfection is quite stressful. Being a driven student is fantastic, but striving for perfection is simply unattainable. Try to break that mentality. Live in the moment, work toward your goals, and strive to become the best version of yourself.

8. Seek support:

With all being said, ask for help if needed. You don’t have to walk alone on this road. Your parents, teachers and mentors are all there to assist you. Reach out to them with your problems and implement their advice to turn your thoughts into something productive and effective.

Parents can help their children in managing their anxiety and overthinking. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask them about their day: Ask them what is happening at school, with their friends, teachers, studies, and in the classroom. When we listen to their day-to-day activities and ask how they feel about them, we’ll get to know if something bothers them. Simply informing you and sharing their sentiments about what has happened will help children to relax and stop overthinking.
  • List down their issues: Make a list of everything that bothers or induces fear in your child, including minor and major issues. The simple act of recognising and writing down issues can help your children feel less fearful. Also, this allows you to identify specific problems you wish to tackle with your child and resolve them all one at a time.
  • Assist them in finding solutions: Rather than solving your child’s problem on your own, teach them how to deal with difficult situations themselves to help them stop overthinking. Help your child think through the problem and devise a feasible solution together. Children must participate actively in problem-solving to learn how to solve difficulties independently now and in the future.
  • Extend your support: When they talk about their problems or share their concerns with you, listen carefully and demonstrate that you care about them and that they are important to you. That’ll make them feel understood, supported, and appreciated. Do not interrupt them while they are venting; instead, wait until they have completed before telling them that you understand.
  • Try alternative thinking strategies: Teach your children new techniques to help them convert issues that lead to overthinking into assurances. For example, if they are worried about their exam, rather than thinking, “I don’t know how I will perform in the exam”, tell them to look at it from a different perspective, like “I have prepared well, so I’ll score good marks in the exam”. You can help your children develop resilience by practising this strategy until they become routine alternatives for prolonged overthinking difficulties.
  • Use healthy distractions: Distract their minds with activities they like, such as reading, sports, riding a bicycle, or even timed-screen video games, whenever they seem to be overthinking or upset about anything. Anything that will divert their attention away from the troubling situation’s thoughts and feelings should be encouraged.
  • Don’t dismiss their issues: Don’t dismiss your child’s sentiments as trivial or irrelevant. Instead, gently remind them that many of their challenges are temporary and can be resolved. There will be better days and more chances to come. It will help them develop the strength, foresight, optimism, and perseverance to try again.
  • Follow a healthy routine: Always ensure that they eat three nutritious meals and healthy snacks throughout the day, get enough sleep, and exercise daily. Following a healthy routine will help them dodge the worry monster and better equip them to fight it back.

Use the techniques mentioned above to stop anxiety and overthinking in your child; also, remember that parents are role models for their children. How you handle difficulties will teach your child how to deal with their own problems. Responding with optimism and confidence will teach your children to tackle their problems in the same way. Also, if you need more help or advice, get in touch with our experts. With 34 years of expertise and a rich academic success legacy, ALLEN Overseas is the most trusted institute to prepare your child for the higher targets of tomorrow.

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