Why you need to stop overthinking
Why you need to stop overthinking

Everyone overthinks a situation occasionally. But if you’re a true overthinker, it is possible that you are struggling to quiet the constant barrage of thoughts. Overthinkers are plagued by distressing thoughts and their inability to get out of their own heads leaves them in a state of constant anguish.

The danger

Overthinking is more than just a nuisance though: studies show that thinking too much can take a serious toll on your well-being. Studies reports that dwelling on your shortcomings, mistakes, and problems increases your risk of mental health problems. And rumination can set you up for a vicious cycle that is hard to break: ruminating wreaks havoc on your mental health and as your mental health declines, your tendency to ruminate increases.

Studies also shows that overthinkers believe they’re helping themselves by rehashing their problems in their heads. But overanalyzing actually interferes with problem-solving. It will cause you to dwell on a problem rather than seek solutions. Even simple decisions, like choosing what to wear to an interview or deciding what to eat can be a stressful decision when you’re an overthinker. And ironically, all that thinking won’t help you make a better choice.

If you’re an overthinker, you likely already know that you can’t sleep when your mind won’t shut off. Studies confirm this, finding that rumination and worry lead to fewer hours of sleep because you’ll be more likely to toss and turn for hours before you drift off. But sleeping later may also not help, because overthinking impairs the quality of your sleep. You’ll be less likely to fall into a deep slumber after you’ve been thinking about the same thing over and over again.

What you can do about it

  • notice when you’re thinking too much: awareness is the first step in putting an end to overthinking. Start paying attention to the way you think. When you notice yourself replaying events in your mind over and over or worrying about things you can’t control, acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive
  • dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful, but looking for solutions is: ask yourself what steps you can take to learn from a mistake or avoid a future problem. Instead of asking why something happened, ask yourself what you can do about it
  • schedule time for reflection: stewing on problems for long periods of time isn’t productive, but brief reflection can be helpful. Thinking about how you could do things differently or recognising potential pitfalls to a plan, for example, can help you do better in the future.

And don’t forget: thoughts are only thoughts. You are not your thoughts. Notice your thoughts and see them as clouds in the sky. They are there but eventually they’ll also drift away.



Psychology Today

Tags: overthinking
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