Has this ever happened to you – You are about to go to sleep and suddenly you remember an old embarrassing situation? This happened years ago, but you still remember details about it. You also start thinking of all possible bad outcomes, how things should have been different, and so on. You stop and question “Why do I overthink?”, “Is it healthy?”, “Should I overthink?”
The event described above is a perfect example of overthinking. Sometimes when you overthink, you question past decisions, or how you could have done things differently.
What Is Overthinking?
Overthinking is a form of analyzing situations in a negative way. This means that people only think of all bad things that can or will happen. When we overthink, we focus only on our negative thoughts all the time. This causes worry or even fear. As a result of this, people have difficulties making decisions at the right time. A simple answer to the question -” why do I overthink?’ – is the worry about being wrong.
If you need to take a major life-changing decision, it is highly likely that you will think about it a lot. Let us take an example. Imagine you are deciding which college to take admission to or which course to choose after your school. Obviously, this is an important decision, and hence you will think about it a lot. However, you need to remember that thinking only of the bad side of a decision is unhealthy. This brings us to the next question – “Should I overthink?”
Why Do I Overthink?
Even though overthinking is not a mental health problem, it is associated with other issues. These issues can range from depression to anxiety and even chronic pain and drug abuse. When people over think, the assume they are preparing for a problem. Unfortunately, this it not true, when people overthink, they only worry about the problem without finding a solution.
Should I Overthink? How Do I Stop?
In short, no! Even though this is a common issue, it is unhealthy to overthink scenes in your head. When we only focus on the problem, we are unable to come up with a solution. This means that you are only thinking of the situation and not taking any action. When you do overthink, it is highly likely the problem is not solved. Therefore, it is unhealthy to think so much.
You may ask, how do I stop these thoughts when they are natural? Do not worry, we have some simple ways to deal with overthinking. Let us go ahead and understand how you can stop over analyzing a problem.
Note Your Triggers and Thoughts
A trigger is any situation that causes you to overthink. For e.g., deciding what course to take, a conversation with your boss, or a fight with a family member. Note down all your triggers in detail. Similarly, write down all your thoughts about the situation. Write them in as much detail as possible. The more your write, the more you will understand your thinking pattern.
If you understand your thoughts and triggers, you will be able to handle your overthinking better. Moreover, this will stop you from asking yourself “why and should you overthink?”
Question Your Overthinking
Once you have written down your thoughts, start questioning them. What we mean by this is, not to ask “why I overthink” or “should I overthink?” Instead, question what you have written on paper. You do not have to believe everything you think. One effective way to stop overthinking is to look at your thoughts objectively.
Try to find proof for your thoughts without attaching any feelings. Avoid jumping to conclusions about situations or people. Take each individual thought and check if it is logical and helpful. When you notice which thoughts are helpful and which are not, overthinking will be easy to manage.
Meditate and Do Yoga
In addition to writing down your thoughts, do meditation and yoga. Both these methods are found to help people when they overthink. Meditation helps us calm our minds. Along with this, it can help increase focus. Meditation and yoga go hand in hand. With the help of both techniques, a person can be calm while taking decisions.
Exercise When You Overthink
In addition to yoga, some exercise is good for the body. Something a simple 15-minute walk can help reduce overthinking. When you move your body, your brain releases a happy chemical. This can have an overall calming effect on your body and mind.
Maintain a Journal
Sometimes just writing unfiltered thoughts can be helpful. This will reduce the burden of the million thoughts in your mind. If you want, you can question these thoughts or just pen them down. If you have too many things to do, you can make a list of every day tasks. This will help organize your thoughts in a better way.
Practice Self-Love When You Overthink
At times, if you find your thoughts are out of control, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, give yourself a break. Imagine how tired your mind will be when you are constantly thinking. Take some time out and focus only on yourself. Plan a spa visit, go shopping, or for a movie. You can also meet your friends and plan an outing with them.
Set Time to Worry
“Worry Time” is a common method used to handle overthinking. Many of you may think that setting a time to worry may cause more worry. Well, this isn’t true. Follow worry time just like a schedule. When we plan our day, we add many things we want to achieve. For e.g., if we plan time to exercise, we do it during that time only. We don’t think about it or exercise while we work. In the same way, set aside 15-20 minutes in your day to think of all your concerns. After this, stop and move on to the next activity.
If you get a thought while working, don’t address it immediately. Instead, try and leave it for worry time. Do this only for thoughts that are not important to the task you are doing. If you forget the thought and can’t remember it during the worry time, it means that it was not important.
Visit a Professional
Even after trying the above options if you feel you need more help, visit a professional. A psychologist will help you deal with overthinking and teach you some simple techniques.
Alternately, you can also check out our self help course on “Low self-esteem“. Our courses are educative and informative and have been planned by professionals with years of experience. This course will help you reduce your overthinking and build confidence.