Why Do I Overthink So Much?
Worrying about something is normal but one needs to know when this worrying changes into Overthinking. Overthinking is thinking about something way too much, more than you should. It is going through the same thought again and again analyzing the situation in different ways. Thinking about a certain thing is okay to an extent, once it becomes overthinking it starts affecting you mental health and day to day life.
When you do this repeatedly, Overthinking becomes a habit and prevents your brain from inducing positive thoughts; you tend to see negative in everything can create a feeling of anxiety and stress. These thoughts are generally baseless and unproductive.
Overthinking is hard to break, your brain might convince you that thinking about something repeatedly can solve your issues, you are stuck in this constant pattern of Overthinking and you use it as an escape from reality.
Overthinking wastes your time and you are unable to take productive actions because of all the negative thoughts running inside your mind. You should be able to recognize when you are Overthinking.
Symptoms Of Overthinking
- Experiencing repetitive thoughts: you have constant thoughts about some and you cannot stop yourself from worrying about what will happen next. These thoughts are stressing you out, you are unable to think clearly.
- Recalling events or interactions: you keep rewinding a certain situation or a conversation, you recall everything and there is a regret about things you had or hadn’t said.
- You do not focus on solutions: Overthinking prevents you from thinking clearly and you dwell on the problem rather than finding a solution to it.
- You feel stuck: you feel stuck and you are unable to move on. You are caught in this loop of negative thoughts. It’s like getting stuck in a pond of mud, you try your best to get out of it but you are unable to do so.
- You have self-doubt: you begin to doubt yourself; you question every action of yours. Because of this self-doubt you cannot make the right decision, you are tough on yourself.
- You procrastinate things: Procrastination becomes a habit. The fear of doing anything wrong makes you a procrastinator, you keep on delaying things so that you don’t have to bear the consequences of the same.
- You feel exhausted: being an overthinker is exhausting both mentally and emotionally. Your brain gets tired of thinking so much. You might feel tired, burnt out and not be able to do things normally.
- You lose sleep: you have sleepless nights, you cannot shut off your mind. And because you do not get enough sleep you become anxious, it becomes a vicious cycle.
Causes of Overthinking
Overthinking sometimes can be productive but most of the time it brings in negative thoughts and stress.
Now let’s see what are the possible causes of Overthinking in a relationship
- Past regrets: there might be certain events which you wish didn’t occur or wish you acted differently in it. The regret of I should have or shouldn’t have said that or I should have or shouldn’t have acted in a certain way causes overthinking, you keep on playing it inside you head on and on, each time.
- Trauma: trauma plays an important role in overthinking, you faced something traumatic and now you cannot get it out of your head. It is something bad that happened to you in the past, you keep on thinking about it and fear that it will happen again and if it does how will you react.
- Low self-esteem: low self-esteem also causes overthinking. When you doubt yourself, you don’t believe in yourself, your brain tends to overthink everything. You become conscious and feel like everyone is judging you for what you are doing.
- Illusion of control: we overthink because it gives us satisfaction of being in control even though it’s just in our heads. This sometimes leads to chronic anxiety and a person might need to see a psychiatrist.
- Fear of conflict: this can be a major reason for overthinking, when you fear conflict in real life we do not get enough practice in handling a conflict as well which makes us less confident and more fearful of the conflicts that might occur in future.
Why is Overthinking harmful
Overthinking may not be a mental illness specifically but it can cause disorders like anxiety, depression, panic and other mental illnesses that may adversely affect a person’s life adversely. Overthinking is constant dwelling on the things that have already happened or worrying about the forthcoming events which creates stress and anxiety.
In an interview, psychologist Ashley Caroll stated that when we ruminate on certain thoughts, it can snowball into bigger, more extreme negative thinking.
Caroll also adds, overthinking affects our physical health. There are people who have negative thoughts and anxiety and have experienced headaches, stomach aches and body pain.
According to WHO there are effects of anxiety and stress on your physical health. You might have headaches, back pains, upset stomach, heavy chest, feel a lump in your throat or your appetite might suppress,
How to stop Overthinking: 8 Strategies
You cannot completely stop Overthinking but there are certain ways you can break this loop of repeated thoughts. Here are certain ways with the help of which you can reduce overthinking-
- Notice when you’re stuck on the same thought for a while: notice when you are caught in the loop of same thought. You may not realize when you are first doing it but eventually with constant practice you can train your brain to notice when you start to overthink.
- Focus on problem-solving rather than the problem itself: if you have a problem and you need to get out of it, focus on the solution rather than the problem itself. Figure out the ways with which you can get rid of that problem, dwelling on something that has already happened is of no use.
- Try meditation: meditation helps you a lot in overcoming the problem of Overthinking. Every time you think you are overthinking, take deep breaths. Meditation also helps you in releasing stress and anxiety, it relaxes your mind and helps you think clearly.
- Find a distraction: whenever you feel like you are overthinking, distract your mind by getting involved in some other activity. You can learn something new, go out with friends and family, play games, volunteer with a local institution. You can do anything that helps you suppress negative thoughts.
- Recognize ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts): ANTs or Automatic Negative Thoughts are a psychological term for knee-jerk negative thoughts. These thoughts involve anger, fear and reaction to the situation. You can identify ANTs by keeping a record of negative thoughts and actively working in order to change them.
- Acknowledge your achievements: acknowledging your success is a good way of overcoming Overthinking. Focus on what you have achieved rather than what you couldn’t, list down the things you have done right, things that made you happy and proud. These necessarily not be big accomplishments but when you look down on them you will realize how small things add up.
- Self-compassion: when you keep dwelling on what happened in the past it becomes hard to let go. You keep tormenting yourself by playing it again and again in your head. Practice self-compassion, take note of all your negative thoughts, acknowledge how you are feeling and adopt a motivating phrase such as “I am enough!”
Get help: if you cannot get through this alone seek help from friends or family. You can also go to a therapist for help. They can help you work through your thoughts and even change your mindset.
Conclusion: Above all, remember to be kind to yourself, mourning something that has already happened or worrying about a future event that is not in you hand is nothing but self-torture. You need to learn how to be kind to yourself, every time you find yourself getting stuck on a thought, remember how you have overcome every hassle of your life and tell yourself “you can do it! We can do it!”