Most individuals consider all the possible outcomes carefully when faced with a big choice, such as selecting a university, changing employment, purchasing a car, getting married, or divorcing. A significant expenditure or life shift calls for careful, detailed evaluation. However, there are occasions when it may be difficult to stop repeating certain thoughts in your head. You could obsess over even seemingly little decisions and consider what-ifs to the point that you become immobile. Overthinking is what experts refer to as.
When you repeatedly think about the same thing or circumstance until it interferes with your life, this is overthinking, also known as rumination. Ruminating over the past and fretting about the future are the two main types of overthinking.
Overthinking might make a person feel “stuck” or prevent them from moving forward at all and It may be hard to focus on anything else or to push the ideas from one’s head.
Overthinking always results in inaction, according to Jessica Foley, LMHC, a therapist in Waltham, Massachusetts. “An example might be missing a deadline or losing sleep after mulling over a decision for hours.”
Signs of an overthinker
- Concerning the future and things beyond your control, you can’t quit worrying.
- You keep bringing up the mistakes that you’ve made in the past.
- You repeatedly replay embarrassing situations in your brain.
- When you reflect back on previous talks with other people, you can’t help but think of things you wish you hadn’t said.
- You spend a lot of time thinking about the hidden meaning behind things people said or did or events that occur.
- You frequently ponder “what if” scenarios.
- You find it difficult to move on from disagreements, setbacks, or missed opportunities.
- You experience FOMO issues.
- You dwell on saying or doing the wrong thing in front of others.
- You lose out on what is going on in the now because you spend so much time worrying about things that happened in the past or will happen in the future.
- You frequently become sidetracked by thoughts of the past or the future, or you have a tendency to forget certain talks.
- You think more than you do
- You get elevated when you find a solution to your thoughts and then jump to the next problem and repeat the cycle.
- You spend more time preparing yourself than doing certain activities.
- You dread one-worded replies because they don’t offer enough information.
- You assume others know what you’re thinking.
- You constantly analyse people
Causes of overthinking
One or two of the most frequent triggers of overthinking are stress and worry. The cycle of overthinking is exacerbated by stress since concern tends to create worry.
Overthinking could also be significantly influenced by perfectionism. One tends to get caught up in thinking about things that are beyond their control or that they cannot possibly control by trying to control every aspect and result.
Overthinking could also be influenced by negative thoughts patterns and it could take some time and effort to stop the habit of overthinking if one has encountered trauma in the past or has firmly established negative ideas.
Types of overthinking
Overthinking is not classified by experts into “types.” However, some people engage in cognitive distortions and overthink things. False patterns of thinking, or cognitive distortions, can cause stress, worry, and depression.
Typical examples of cognitive distortions are:
- All – or – nothing: Looking at things as one way or another, with no grey area in between.
- Catastrophizing: Thinking about the worst possible consequence in a situation.
- Overgeneralizing: relying on a small number of instances to assume that something will always be certain in nature.
- Jumping to conclusions: assuming without adequate proof that how something will turn out.
- Mind reading: believing without adequate evidence that what someone else is thinking.
Health issues due to overthinking
- High blood pressure
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Loss of appetite
- Impact the brain
- Affects the digestive system
- Weakens the immune system
Effects of Overthinking on mental health
- Stress, anxiety, and depression are all encouraged and made worse by overthinking
- Impact on problem solving and decision makling
- Chronic overthinking will consume a large portion of the day, leaving with little production to show and disrupts everyday tasks.
- It affects how people interact with one another. Doubts tend to stimulate misconceptions, poor decisions, denials, and escapism
- It interferes with your ability to sleep and eat, which disrupts one’s internal system;
- Brain cells are depleted by overthinking, which prevents them from making new discoveries
- It undermines confidence and encourages self-doubt. Increased self-doubt reinforces the overthinking cognitive style by increasing the tendency to overthink.
How to deal with overthinking
- Keeping track of triggers and patterns
- Challenging negative thoughts and reframing them in more positive outcomes
- Try mindfulness practices including deep breathing, meditation, and heightened awareness of your senses.
- Take part in activities that benefit both your body and mind, such as relaxation, exercise, and healthy eating.
- Schedule time each day for self-care pursuits like reading, writing in a diary, listening to music, etc.
- Practise forgiving and accepting yourself.
- Use encouraging language to yourself and learn to identify unreasonable and unrealistic thinking.
- Set goals that are achievable, attainable, and motivating.
- Spend time with loved ones who encourage you and have a positive outlook.
- Avoid assuming or drawing hasty judgements.
- Take pauses from the endeavour giving you stress or worry, and give yourself some alone time.
- Seek professional support if necessary, such as counselling or online therapy.
- Concentrate on positive things in life, and express gratitude for what you already have.
- Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep