Overcoming overthinking: Top tips to quiet your mind

For thousands of years, spiritual teachers have recognised that much of human suffering comes from an overactive mind. The incessant chatter creates worries, regrets, judgements and insecurities that can make even a relatively problem-free life a daily grind. Overthinking can contribute to a spectrum of psychological conditions, including depression, stress and anxiety, and these mental struggles can lead to physical health decline, too. Ancient teachings like the Tao Te Ching, the Demapadar and some interpretations of the Gospels all emphasise the importance of quieting the mind. But this is often easier said than done in our modern world of notifications, social media, 24/7 news and relentless rat race.

This blog will explore some proven, effective strategies for bringing new peace into your thoughts. These tips will help you quiet your mind, cope with stress in a healthier way and enhance your overall mental and physical well-being.

1. Observe your thoughts

The mind is a fantastic tool that has allowed humankind to achieve amazing things in science, culture and civilisation building. The problem is that the mind has become so powerful that many people can’t switch it off.

For example, many people suffer from social anxiety, a severe mental health condition that creates irrational fear and anxiety about judgement and social interactions. For those suffering from social anxiety, days, weeks or even months before a social event – even during a moment of relative peace – a random thought will pop into the head. It could be an embarrassing memory of a previous social occasion, a worry about the same thing happening again or a highly persuasive suggestion that the safest thing would be to miss the event altogether.

For those with depression, overthinking can be equally as harmful, making it impossible to find any joy in the world. It can cause you to dwell on negative past experiences, lose motivation or interest in things that could potentially bring happiness and cast a shadow over any potential happiness.

The journey to overcoming overthinking begins with recognising that these thoughts do not serve you or define you. By learning to observe your thoughts without judging them or giving them any significance, you become, as the spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle puts it, “the watcher.”

How to observe your thoughts

Start by sitting comfortably in a quiet place, close your eyes and wait to see what thought pops next into your head. When one comes along, allow it to pass through your mind without following it, wondering where it came from or allowing it to cause a reaction. With time and some of the tips below, the spaces between thoughts will get longer, allowing you space just to be.


Click the image above to learn more about becoming the “watcher” and quieting your mind.

2. Practise mindfulness

“Mindfulness”, also called “presence”, in Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now”, is a state where you are entirely in the present moment. This means giving all your attention to the “now”, to what’s happening around you through your senses and within you by becoming aware of the aliveness of your body.

Mindfulness practices are an important part of treatment for mental health and addiction. By becoming intensely aware of what you are feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgement, mindfulness practices can help you navigate through the tumultuous sea of overthinking. This intense awareness shifts your focus from past or future worries to the present moment, significantly reducing feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.

Some useful mindfulness practices for overcoming overthinking include:

Daily mindfulness meditation

Allocate a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. This simple practice can help you cultivate a state of awareness and presence, making it easier to return to this state when you start to overthink.

Mindful walking

Transform your daily walks into mindfulness practice by paying attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath and the sights and sounds around you. This practice helps ground you in the now and can be particularly therapeutic for those dealing with stress and mental health conditions.


Exercise can also be a great way to quiet the mind. When you are actively engaging your body, it becomes easier to anchor your thoughts in the present, moving away from the cycle of overthinking. Not only that, but physical activity, whether it’s walking, running, yoga or any form of exercise, stimulates the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. This biochemical process can boost your mood and also acts as a natural counter to stress and anxiety.

Sensory engagement

Intentionally engage your senses by noticing five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Notice them, but don’t name them, dwell on them or make any judgements or observations. This technique quickly brings your attention back to the present moment, easing the grip of overthinking.

Body scan meditation

Lying down or sitting comfortably, focus your attention gradually from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Notice any areas of tension or discomfort, again, simply acknowledging them without judgement. This practice enhances body awareness and promotes relaxation, offering relief from stress and anxiety.

3. Establish boundaries

One effective way to combat overthinking is by establishing clear mental and emotional boundaries. This involves delineating what is within your control and what isn’t and consciously choosing not to expend mental energy on the latter.

Begin by identifying the thoughts or situations that trigger overthinking and acknowledge that not everything requires your mental investment. As you begin to observe your thoughts, you will find that the vast majority are – at best – useless, and – at worst – harmful.

Learning to say “no” to certain thought patterns is empowering and can significantly reduce anxiety. For example, if ruminating on a past event or worrying about a future one is causing you distress, there are a few practical steps you can take:

Allow the thought to pass

Begin to view your thoughts as clouds passing in the sky – there, but not permanent or defining. Rather than engaging with every thought that crosses your mind, learn to observe them as they float by and let them go without attaching significance or judgement. This will help you to recognise that thoughts are transient and that not every thought warrants a reaction or a deep dive.

Take action now

If a thought is actionable and within your control, the best time to take action is right now. Determine the best solution and do what you can to resolve the issue. There may be a decision to make at this moment or you may need to recognise that there will be a solution but it is not possible yet.

In the former case, this shifts the focus from passive worrying to active problem-solving. In the latter, it will allow you to stop worrying until you are able to take the necessary action.

Accept the situation

Acceptance is a powerful tool for dealing with thoughts about situations beyond one’s control. Recognising and accepting that some circumstances cannot be changed or influenced by one’s actions or thoughts liberates one from the cycle of overthinking and anxiety. Dwelling on one’s regrets or worries often gives one power over one, but accepting that one’s life, like all lives, has its challenges can strip that power away.

Acceptance does not mean resignation; it means acknowledging reality without letting it dominate your mental landscape. This can help in fostering a sense of peace and resilience, even in the face of challenging situations.

4. Seek professional help

In severe cases where overthinking is a symptom or cause of a serious mental health condition, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Mental health treatment centres like UKAT London Clinic provide expert treatment programmes that can provide immediate relief and long-term strategies for managing a range of conditions.

UKAT London Clinic’s mental health and well-being programmes incorporate a wide variety of traditional and holistic therapies. These can help you to identify the underlying causes of your overthinking and learn new coping strategies.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is particularly effective, as it helps change negative, incessant thought patterns that are proving difficult to break. Another useful form is trauma-based therapy, which can help you process and make sense of difficult memories and experiences that may be triggering overthinking and anxiety. Dialectical behaviour therapy is another highly effective modality which incorporates elements of CBT with deep mindfulness practices to help soothe intense emotions and negative thoughts.

Our holistic therapy programmes also include many approaches with mindfulness at their core. Sound bath therapy, for example, uses resonant sounds and vibrations to create a meditative state, helping you to focus on the present moment and reduce the whirlwind of overthinking.

Yoga and meditation are also integral components, combining physical postures, breath control and meditation to improve mental well-being. These practices help to ground you in your body, diverting attention away from repetitive thoughts and towards the physical sensations of the present moment.

Final (mindful) thoughts

Overcoming overthinking is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion and, sometimes, professional support. By observing your thoughts, practising mindfulness and seeking professional help when necessary, you can learn to quiet your mind and enhance your mental and physical well-being.

If you are in need of professional treatment for mental health or dual-diagnosis conditions, remember you are not alone in this journey. Reach out to UKAT London today, and we will help you find peace and clarity amidst the noise.

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