Illustration: Peopleimages.com/Digital Vision/Getty Images

3 of 5
Distinguish Between Worry/Rumination and Helpful Problem-Solving
People who are heavy worriers tend to believe that worrying helps them make good decisions. However, rather than helping you problem-solve, rumination and worry usually just make it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Do you think people who worry a lot about getting cancer are more likely to do self-exams, have their moles mapped or eat a healthy diet? According to research, the opposite is probably true. For example, one study showed that women who were prone to rumination took an average of 39 days longer to seek help after noticing a breast lump.

Experiment: To check for yourself whether ruminating and worrying lead to useful actions, try tracking the time you spend ruminating or worrying for a week. If a week is too much of a commitment, you could try two days—one weekday and one weekend day. When you notice yourself ruminating or worrying, write down the approximate number of minutes you spend doing it. The following day, note any times when ruminating/worrying led to useful solutions. Calculate your ratio: How many minutes did you spend overthinking for each useful solution it generated?