Overthinking is very common in young and middle-aged adults contributing to 73% of (25-35) year-old adults and 52% (45-55) year-old adults. According to Susan Nolen, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, overthinking causes results in depression, inability to move forward in life, and a person may also feel wrecked emotional health, says the NYTimes as well.
Overthinking is “the tendency of the mind to overthink for a long period of time regarding something.” It is human nature to think about things or to evaluate situations. Every person at some point in time experiences events that cause worry or stress.
As a result, some people can’t seem to turn their concerns off and start to worry about the future and events that haven’t happened yet in their life.
They may also feel worried about past events thinking to themselves about “should be done” and “could have done”. They may also worry about themselves thinking about what others think of them, and from there, the negative thoughts start to develop in their mind.
In some cases, some people might face difficulty while making some crucial decisions. They start to replay all the possible options in their minds and lead to “paralysis by too much analysis”.
The person is so afraid to make a wrong decision that he/she finds it better to take no action at all. Sometimes making a wrong decision is better than making no decision.
Excess to anything is bad for human health. The same goes with thinking. Thinking too much can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety, an increase in stress, lack of confidence, lack of concentration, and many more, which you might see further in this article.
Why Do I Overthink So Much?
In order to cure overthinking, first, it is important to know the overthinking causes of it. Ask yourself a question, “Why do I overthink?”. In most cases, the cause of overthinking is anxiety or depression.
In case overthinking is not a cause of a deeper emotional issue, it can usually be addressed by changing thoughts and mindsets.
Apart from overthinking anxiety or depression, overthinking can also be caused by self-doubt and self-esteem issues. Too much concern about repeating past patterns in context to a bad experience, traumatic experience may also result in overthinking, making it difficult for the victim to live life and can also affect emotionally and sleep patterns.
What Is Overthinking A Symptom Of?
To treat overthinking, you need to change your thought process and be aware of when you start to overthink. Here are some signs and symptoms of overthinking, see if you have any of them or not:-
- In case you can’t stop worrying about things.
- If you start to worry about things that are not in your control.
- If you are continuously remembering your mistakes instead of working on them.
- In case you relive embarrassing moments in your mind all the time.
- If you have the habit of examining situations with questions, such as “what if..?” all the time.
- Facing difficulty while sleeping because of the fear of being unable to shut his brain.
- Continuously thinking about past conversations and situations that are not under control.
- Thinking about the hidden meaning of things or events that people say or might have happened in the past.
- Getting annoyed by someone else’s actions and dwelling on them.
- If you are either worried about the future or disappointed with the past, instead of living in the present.
How Do I Stop Overthinking Things?
It is absolutely normal and easy to overthink. Luckily, there are various other mental strength exercises a person can perform to change the brain’s channel to turn overthinking into a healthy mindset.
Studies have proven that instead of worrying all day if you can contain your worries for some particular period of time(say 15 minutes) every day, can help you to cure overthinking. Hence, scheduling time for worry will help you live more in the present, and living in the present will help you a lot to deal with overthinking.
Being self-aware is the key to changing your mindset. Therefore, whenever you experience continuously running things over your mind and affecting your mood, do not forget to analyze your feelings or their consequences. What’s the emotion behind the cause of the thought?
Find The Overthinking Causes
Being presently active will help you best to shut down overthinking to analyze the cause of the overthinking in the best possible way. The process of doing so depends from person to person but has some fundamental ideas, such as:-
- Learning new things, such as kitchen skills
- Go for your favorite workout class
- Try new hobbies, such as painting
- Busy yourself volunteering in some local organizations
Whenever you start to struggle with your thoughts, close your eyes and take a deep breath. You must have heard that doing so works a lot.
You can help yourself by performing some exercises with your breath, such as:-
- Sit comfortably and relax your neck and shoulders.
- Keep one hand on your heart and the other on your belly.
- Try to breathe from your nose, paying attention to your lungs and stomach while doing so.
Try performing this exercise three times a day for 5 minutes.
Practising meditation is an evidence-based way to deal with stress and overthinking. It clears your mind of nervous chatter by turning your attention inward.
You might face difficulty at the initial stage of practising meditation when overwhelmed by confusing thoughts. Therefore, set a goal of performing the exercise for a short period of time initially and try setting a chunk of time, such as 30 minutes every day.
Have A Look At The Consequences At A Bigger Picture
Whenever you start your struggle with your floating thoughts, ask yourself some questions, such as:-
What will be the result if you allow these thoughts to remain to affect you for the next 5 to 10 years? Will that be beneficial? Does anyone care that you bought a fruit plate for the potluck instead of baking a pie from scratch?
Guide yourself by not letting yourself be affected by such pity issues.
Learn To Recognize Negative Thoughts
As discussed earlier, before starting anything, you need to recognize confusing thoughts that are causing you harm. You can keep a record of the thoughts that hamper you often to work actively to change them.
This can be done by performing some activities, such as:-
- Use a notebook to note down things that cause you harm, such as anxiety, mood swing, and the first thought that comes to your mind when it comes to overthinking.
- Also, note and analysis and cause of the occurrence of such anxiety-causing thoughts.
- Be a bit strict with yourself and break the emotions you have been experiencing because of it. Identify and follow the instincts that come to your mind in order to overcome such thoughts.
- Analysis of how you can help yourself from such minor issues.
Try To Be Fully Conscious Of The Moment
Some people are unable to practice meditation in their day-to-day life. Don’t worry if you fall under this category, there are other ways to help yourself to be present at the moment, such as:-
- Cut off yourself from devices, like cell phones, and computers, and spend that essential time on a particular activity.
- Your intake is very important for your development. Therefore, try to go for your favourite meals in such situations. Try to find the joy of having things of your own way and choice, focus on the taste of food, smell, and feel it. This also works in most cases.
- Go for a walk outside. The walk doesn’t need to be a long distance. Take inventory of things that occur while you walk.
Living with your past mistakes will not allow you to move on from them. Therefore, try refocusing on self-compassion, which can be easily achieved through activities like:-
- I am noting your stressful thoughts.
- Remember the consequences of it on your body and mind.
- Believe in yourself and in your feelings at the moment.
- Try to accept things with the help of some phrases, such as “I should accept myself as I am” or “Am I enough at the moment?”
- Try to embrace all your fears.
Leaving the overthinking habit untreated can increases the risk of anxiety, irritability, panic attack, low appetite, irregular sleep patterns, hypertension, and much more.
Don’t make the mistake of taking it for granted!