Are you one of those people who are often stuck in their minds or grapple with their thoughts? You know the type, who always have to analyze every decision and possibility before actually making a move. You find yourself asking questions like “What if I make a mistake?” or “What would happen if someone said that I was irresponsible?” Then perhaps, you are an over-thinker.
What is Overthinking and What makes you think so much?
Overthinking is a mental habit that causes people to ruminate and excessively focus on the possible negative outcomes of any situation or event. Overthinking can be caused by many things, including anxiety, chronic worrying, perfectionism, low self-esteem and depression.
The good news about overthinking is that, just like any other habit, it can be broken with practice. It may not be easy at first; and take some time before we notice any progress. But eventually, the thought process will stop spiraling and become shorter.
Overthinking is the opposite of mindfulness, which is taking in the world around us with an open and accepting attitude. Overthinking is being so mentally focused on one thing that we miss what’s happening right in front of us.
The habit of overthinking fills our daily thought process with negativity. It leads to a general feeling of stress and unease, which causes us to have trouble making decisions or taking action. Whatever action we do take usually leads to further analysis and more stress until eventually, we are unable to take any action at all. This can cause us to feel aimless and confused.
Signs and symptoms of Overthinking
Some people say that they don’t think too much or overthink; it just simply doesn’t happen for them. But, here are some common signs and symptoms that will indicate otherwise.
• Thoughts race through your head
You know that feeling when you’re thinking too much, and it’s all just a wild clump of thoughts in your head? It can be easy to avoid but more difficult to stop. But sometimes, we need to just let it go. Sometimes, it’s okay not to overthink everything.
• Scary or Anxious Thoughts Keep Floating
You often think of negative outcomes of a situation that may or may not even exist. You cook the whole story in your mind and start feeling anxious.
• “What-If” Thoughts
These thoughts may include things like “what ifs” and other pessimistic thoughts that bring you down. These kinds of thoughts can bring you down and they’re usually not true or realistic.
• You get stuck in a loop
This is when you keep going over the same thought or issue again and again without an answer or solution in sight.
The basic thought pattern of an overthinker is
Something bad is about to happen
Because there is only one thing we will always think about in our heads, it’s easy for us to see how this thought pattern can become problematic. We focus on the negative outcomes of a situation, and this puts stress on our minds and bodies. Overthinking can lead to depression and isolation.
It is a cycle that begins with the thought of something bad happening, and we start thinking about how to fix it or prevent it from happening. This is not so bad in and of itself, but the fact that this habit takes us away from living in reality. Overthinking distracts us from noticing what’s happening right in front of us, which often leads to giving up what we are doing or enjoying because our attention is focused on the negative possibilities.
6 Effective Ways to Stop Overthinking
Overthinking is a habit that is not easy to break (but not impossible, of course). Here are 6 effective ways that you can use to overcome your thoughts.
1. Identify your Destructive Thought Patterns
Negative and destructive thinking patterns are found in a variety of forms and some are more damaging than others. These patterns of thought are more likely to appear during periods of tension and stress and can contribute to the negative consequences of thinking too much. The two most prevalent patterns are endlessly ruminating and worrying.
2. Follow Your Curiosity
Curiosity has the power to motivate you and move forward toward your goals. It’s important to remember that when you over-analyze something, you tend to waste your creative energy.
When you feel the urge to overthink or analyze something, instead of stopping and thinking about it, use your curiosity as a guide. Look at it from a different perspective. Think of what will happen if this happens or if that is the case. Follow your curiosity and see where it takes you. You might just have an interesting experience or learn something new!
3. Help Another Person
When you help someone, you truly forget your bad feelings. That is why helping someone is considered as an act of kindness. It helps you shift your mind from negative thoughts to solving the problem of other person. Overthinking is just a chain of thoughts that will only lead to worry and anxiety. It’s not productive and it’s not healthy at all. Stop overthinking by looking at the big picture (again, use your curiosity).
Instead of thinking of how the world is against you, think about how you can help someone who needs some help.
4. Put your ideas on paper
I love this most. My journal is always ready to hear me out without judging me. Sometimes, It’s difficult to think beyond “what if” or “what if it doesn’t work” when you can’t put your thoughts into action. Stop resisting and repeatedly write down your ideas so you can get them out of your head, on paper. Surprisingly, you will notice lightness in your head, immediately.
If you are new to journaling, this would help—> How to start journaling ?
5. Became Mindful
Mostly mindfulness is associated with meditation. But being mindful doesn’t mean that you need to leave everything and sit down to meditate. Becoming mindful simply means bringing your attention back to the present moment – Just where you are and to what you are doing. The easiest way to bring your attention back is to observe your surroundings. Look at five things within your sight – Your desk, bed, painting on the wall, window or whatever is there in your surroundings. Next, find out four objects you can touch; then three sounds you can hear; two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste (it’s ok if there’s nothing around to taste but do look around once)
This activity helps in coming back to the present moment, instantly. If you practice mindfulness in everyday activities, you will be less likely to overthink.
Here are some super easy ways to practice mindfulness everyday.
6. Play Mind Games
When you play mind games, you put your brain to perform mental gymnastics. The aim of this activity is engage your mind and forget about your worries, you are overthinking on. Playing mind games is one of the most effective and creative ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Wrapping Up on Ways to Stop Overthinking
Overthinking is a form of anxiety that plagues many people daily. Although people, in general, believe it to be an emotion, it is a distressing reaction. It is thought that over-thinking and anxiety have a significant relationship. This can cause many problems including depression, and some other mental health issues.
Overthinking is not only a negative habit, it also becomes an obstacle that keeps you from moving forward in your life. Overthinking can cause anxiety and depression, and it can have a significant impact on your concentration and productivity.
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