A Mental Health Nurse’s take on Overcoming Overthinking


We caught up with mental health nurse and founder of Swirl – Andy Walton – on how to get on top of anxious thought-patterns.

Here is a quick toolkit with techniques to prevent your ruminating thoughts from taking over.

Recognising Your Thought Patterns

Recognising thoughts as just thoughts is a liberating step forward to overcoming rumination and anxiety. It might be easier said than done but by developing the ability to recognise when you’re going down a rabbit hole of worry and by learning how to manage overwhelming thoughts you can move on from obsessing, assurance seeking and beating yourself up.

Create positive solutions

Overcoming overthinking is all about moving forward. It’s important to find flow in hobbies, connect with others and start thinking beyond ourselves. Putting energy into creating positive solutions creates an alternative to the negative thoughts we carry.

Use Mindfulness Techniques

Using mindfulness techniques such as breathing techniques or mindful acts of walking, eating or engaging in activity can really help. Find the relaxation technique that works for you – using your different senses to ground yourself into the here and now.

Mindfulness is a skill that takes discipline and practice but the more you are able to stay still and acknowledge thoughts as they pass by whilst maintaining a stable footing in the present, the stronger you will feel. Increased awareness will help you recognise the impermanence of all things – including anxiety.

Use Worry Periods

A powerful technique is to use worry periods, whereby we postpone the worry until a designated time period sometime in the future. Ask yourself,  ‘can this wait?’ and then designate a time to work on the particular worry later that day.

Chances are when the time comes, some other worry will have replaced it, so you can be more objective about it. You will be able to take the thought from few steps away.

To find out more about Andy’s own journey beating anxiety, depression and compulsive thinking visit Swirl. Swirl is a tangible reflection of Andy’s own journey and a guide created to help others based on professional expertise, personal experience and aspirations to make mental health part of everyday conversation.