Tonight, the whispers of overthinking woke you up again! You stood in the dark under the stars, oscillating between stillness and agitation, like your thoughts swirling in the swirl of the night. The world is in a deep sleep, but you, the one with a confused heart and a contemplative mind, are unable to immerse yourself in the sea of forgetfulness.
There, between the warm bed covers and your waiting pillow, you lean back and beg for calm to take over your busy mind, but here are the thoughts flowing like an inexhaustible river, infiltrating the gardens of your conscience, and filling your ears with an endless echo.
Can you get rid of this overthinking? Is this overthinking a mental illness that you should worry about? How can you deal with overthinking, obsessive thoughts, and negative thoughts?
My dear, if you suffer from overthinking and these questions are swirling around your mind, I invite you to continue reading this article. We will delve deeper into the concept of overthinking and reveal solutions that will help you deal with it.
In this Article
Overthinking is the repetition and amplification of thoughts and thinking about them excessively and continuously for long periods, whether these thoughts are related to past events or future anxiety.
These thoughts may be irrational or from an unrealistic perspective, and the repetitive and exaggerated thoughts may be related to past traumatic events, current problems, or future fears.
Surely, many of us overthink to some extent. As parents, children, employees, or business people, worrying about things is linked to caring for our loved ones and doing a good job.
However, people who really suffer from overthinking tend to be analysts, reconsidering events that have already occurred. Mostly, normal anxiety is related to the future, such as: Can I meet a deadline? Can I find a nice residential apartment for my mother?
Our anxiety often helps us progress; We work to develop plans to alleviate these fears. However, it is difficult for people who suffer from overthinking to stop and control the flow of racing thoughts, which leads to mental and emotional exhaustion. They may feel unable to make decisions due to analyzing the situation from all possible angles and thinking about the potential results excessively.
If you really need to learn how to stop overthinking, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of overthinking:
- Worrying about the future
You anticipate unlikely catastrophic events that have not yet occurred, which prevents you from enjoying the present.
- Repetitive thinking about the past
You blame yourself for what “should have been” and “what could have been” and are unable to let go of the past and move forward.
- Worrying about others’ opinion
If you replay every social interaction and situation in your mind, social anxiety may be the culprit behind your overthinking.
- Accumulation of negativity in your mind
Pay attention to the internal dialogue going on in your head. Negative self-talk is a symptom of overthinking.
- You suffer from analysis paralysis
If you are rethinking all the options in your mind, you may be so afraid of taking the wrong action that you don’t make a decision at all.
- Feeling depressed or stressed
Overthinking can increase symptoms of depression, raise your stress levels, and cloud your judgment.
- Feel helpless
If you feel like the universe is conspiring against you, and everything you do seems to be turning against you, then this is one of the traps that overthinking sets.
Overthinking often increases problems rather than solving them, especially when it comes to making a difficult decision. When you have to analyze every detail and exhaust yourself with different inferences and possibilities, the result may be that you become more distracted and complicated.
Remember, making a wrong decision is better than not making a decision at all. You can learn from failure, but you cannot learn from doing nothing. Experimenting and learning from mistakes is a natural part of life. Do not hide from yourself the opportunity to grow and develop because of fear of making the wrong decision.
Is Overthinking a Mental Illness?
Overthinking is not considered a mental illness, but rather a symptom of some psychological and mental disorders, which may include the following:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: Traumatic events may replay in your mind and you may experience them repeatedly. You may also have agoraphobia, where you feel excessive anxiety and fear of being alone or of places devoid of people.
- Panic disorder: You experience sudden attacks of intense fear and anxiety for no apparent reason.
- Selective mutism: The person feels difficulty speaking or answering in some social situations, although he is able to speak normally in other situations.
- Separation anxiety disorder: You suffer from excessive anxiety and fear of separation from a person or people close to you, and it is accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms such as anxiety and confusion.
- Social phobia: A condition in which a person feels extreme anxiety and fear in social situations, such as speaking in public or dealing with people, and suffers from excessive fears of being criticized or embarrassed.
Identify Harmful Thinking Patterns
When we think excessively, we often become more anxious, and this is due to errors in thinking called cognitive errors, which are errors in logical thinking. Here are some examples of these common mistakes:
This is when you imagine the worst possible scenario as a result of the situation you are anxious about, and when we are busy overthinking, we tend to jump straight into that disastrous scenario and unrealistically expect it to happen.
This happens when we experience a stumble or failure, and generalizing this event to all situations, we may incorrectly assume that things have always been and will always go wrong for us.
While anxiety tends to be more future-oriented, you may also have difficulty overthinking about the past.
- Mental delusion
This is when you unrealistically believe that you are inadequate or that you will fail in important situations. You can expect the worst to happen and feel unworthy, even when there is no evidence of this.
This is when you magnify and exaggerate the negatives and risks, and reduce the positives and opportunities available. You may feel worried about small consequences or unimportant details and make them seem bigger and more influential than they actually are.
This is when you focus only on negative things and ignore positive evidence or thoughts. You may focus on small mistakes or things that were not as desired, and ignore the successes and progress you are achieving.
When to See a Doctor?
It is recommended to seek the help of a mental health professional in the following cases:
- If your thoughts are controlling or causing you a lot of distress.
- If your tendency to meditate is interfering with your ability to function daily. Therapy can help you distinguish between productive and unproductive anxiety.
- If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm in any way, you should contact your doctor or therapist immediately.
Overthinking is not just annoying, it can seriously negatively affect your well-being. Constantly thinking about your weaknesses, mistakes, and problems, or even thinking the same thoughts, may increase the risk of developing some mental health conditions, according to research conducted in 2021.
As your mental health declines, your rumination becomes ever greater, leading to a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.
Studies also indicate that overthinking leads to severe emotional stress, and to escape this stress, many overthinkers resort to unhealthy coping strategies, such as consuming alcohol or food.
You must deal with overthinking in healthy ways and seek help if it has negative effects on your mental and physical health. These effects include the following:
- An increase in stress levels, which affects the nervous system and hormones, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Overthinking can lead to a decrease in the strength of your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and infection.
- When you overthink, the body tends to tense up and tighten the muscles, leading to muscle aches and physical pain.
- You can only sleep when your mind stops working, as you find that indulging in thinking and worry leads to a lack of hours of sleep and poor sleep quality, which causes insomnia, and thus affects the body’s health and its ability to recover.
- It can cause digestive problems such as nausea, stomach upset, and irritable bowel syndrome.
10 Tips to Treat Overthinking
Give yourself a few quiet moments before getting into a vortex of thinking. If you are able to change your approach, focus on the essential matters, and trust in your abilities, you may find that overthinking fades away and you can make decisions with greater confidence and ease.
Anxiety and overthinking are part of the human experience, but when left unchecked, they can negatively impact your well-being.
So, what should a person who overthinks do? These tips can help you move in the right direction, including the following:
- Step back and see how you react to your thoughts
The way you react to your thoughts can keep you in a cycle of repetitive thinking, and overthinking can often have negative repercussions on an individual’s mental health.
Next time you find yourself constantly repeating thoughts in your mind, pay attention to how it affects your mood. Do you feel resentment, anxiety, or guilt? What is the primary emotion behind your thoughts? Having self-awareness is crucial to changing your mental outlook.
Admitting that overthinking is unproductive can be an important step toward shifting attention and energy to more positive things, and focusing on this admission may help you relieve anxiety and excess mental stress.
- Look for distraction
You can stop overthinking by engaging in an activity you enjoy. This manifests itself differently for each person, but some ideas include:
- Learn new skills in the kitchen by trying a new recipe.
- Go to your favorite exercise class.
- Embracing a new hobby like drawing.
- Participate in volunteering with a local organization.
Remember that choosing the activity that suits you depends on your personal interests and passions. Enjoy the experience and use the time you spend in these activities as a means of distraction and improving your mental health.
- Challenge your negative thoughts
You may think that your boss hates you or that you will never reach your athletic goals. But instead of letting those negative thoughts take over, challenge them and reframe them with positive, empowering thoughts.
Ask yourself if that thought was useful, and what evidence proves that my negative thought is true. Is there an alternative possibility? The goal of these questions is to try to get a more balanced point of view.
Then you can analyze the available evidence and think about the possibility of other ways to explain things. Try to adopt a more balanced and positive perspective towards negative thoughts, and thus restructure your way of thinking to be more motivational.
Try practicing meditation regularly and you will feel the benefits it can provide in calming the mind and improving clarity and inner tranquility. A meditation session is simple and can be done as follows:
- Sit in a quiet and comfortable place.
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Focus on deep, regular breathing.
- Notice the flow of air entering and exiting your body.
- When you feel your mind starting to wander, gently direct your attention back to the focus point.
- Continue meditating for 5 minutes or longer if you feel comfortable.
This simple exercise can help you calm the mind, improve focus and attention, and relieve anxiety and overthinking.
- Consider the distant horizons
How will all the problems you have in mind affect you in 5 or 10 years? Will anyone really care that you bought ready-made food for a party instead of making a meal yourself?
Will anyone remember these small details and consider them important in the long run? Of course not. So, do not allow small problems to turn into major obstacles. Do not let minor issues turn into obstacles that block your path to progress and happiness.
When you find yourself stumbling over small details and trivial problems, try to raise your gaze and focus on the comprehensive perspective.
Relax and remember that small things are not worth the extra anxiety and stress they may cause. Set your priorities and focus on the most important and influential issues in your life. By paying attention to big goals and achieving them, you will find that small problems gradually disappear and become smaller in front of you.
- Take a deep breath
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Try this simple exercise; To help you relax by focusing on breathing, by applying the following steps:
- Find a comfortable place to sit and let your neck and shoulders relax.
- Place one hand over your heart and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose, and pay attention to how your chest and stomach move as you breathe.
- Try this exercise 3 times a day for 5 minutes, or when you feel racing thoughts.
- Take a deep breath and remember that deep breathing can help you calm your mind, relieve stress, and move toward relaxation.
- Deal with sources of stress in an organized manner
Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed, try to divide sources of stress into manageable parts and deal with them gradually.
You can analyze the task or challenge into subcomponents, develop a specific action plan for each part, and then focus on completing the necessary steps and progressing gradually. You will feel better and more confident in yourself when you see your progress in dealing with those specific sources of stress.
Make sure to develop a clear and organized plan, and follow up on implementation in order to ensure effective dealing with sources of pressure.
- Enjoy nature
No matter your location, fresh air can be good for your mind, if you’re able to get out in nature.
Studies show that taking a 90-minute walk in a natural environment can reduce the bias toward repetitive thinking; This result is mostly due to the lack of noise and distractions in natural environments, and the ability of some people to calm their negative thoughts and appreciate the natural beauty around them.
- Get ready for bed
It is useful to set aside a designated time to relax and prepare for sleep. Taking care of sleep health includes following habits and routines, then your body knows that it is time to rest and relax.
Some things can help achieve this, such as avoiding stimulating activities before bed, eating heavy food, or watching bright screens.
Instead, you can adopt calm activities such as relaxing, reading a soothing book, or practicing deep breathing techniques. That way, you can relax and your body can signal that it’s time to transition into sleep mode and prepare for a peaceful, restful night.
- Remember your accomplishments
If you feel weak or vulnerable, it may be necessary for you to stop for a moment and reconsider all the wonderful achievements you have made in your life. Do not underestimate your strength and ability to overcome challenges. The obstacles you face may be temporary and you will be able to overcome them successfully.
Tips for Achieving Inner Peace
Everyone seeks to achieve inner peace in life, as it is the state that allows us to feel calm and comfortable deep down, and helps us deal effectively with daily challenges and pressures.
Therefore, we offer you some friendly advice that can help you achieve inner peace, including the following:
- Practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and paying attention to the five senses.
- Challenge negative thoughts and rephrase them in a positive way.
- Engage in activities that nourish your mind and body, such as exercising, eating healthy, and relaxing.
- Identify common influences that may lead to excessive thinking and develop a plan to deal with them.
- Set aside time each day for self-care activities such as journaling, reading, listening to music, etc.
- Practice self-acceptance and self-tolerance.
- Practice positive self-talk, and admit when you have unrealistic thoughts.
- Set achievable goals and motivation.
- Spend time with friends and family who support you and help you stay positive.
- Avoid making assumptions or jumping to quick conclusions.
- Take breaks from activity that causes you stress or anxiety.
- Seek professional support if necessary, such as counseling or online therapy.
- Focus on what makes us happy and enjoyable in life.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all path to achieving inner peace, so choose the advice that suits you and your personal situation. It may take time and endurance to achieve change, so be patient with yourself during your journey towards inner peace.
In conclusion, my dear, in this article we explored together the deepest corridors of thought and passed through every corner of exhausting thinking. We were like sailors wandering in the deep sea, braving the stormy waves, in search of calm and peace.
Even if the journey is difficult and full of challenges, hope remains shining like a star in the dark sky, and always remember that you are not alone in this journey.
In the end, there will always be a sunrise waiting for us after the long night, and all the waves that forcefully attack the beach rocks will contribute to creating a calm melody that opens the door to rest and tranquility.
Frequently Asked Questions about Overthinking
Does overthinking lead to madness?
Overthinking does not lead to insanity in itself, but life problems and negative thoughts can increase the possibility of mental health being affected, increasing problems such as anxiety and depression.
Why does the mind not stop thinking?
This can be due to a number of reasons, including anxiety disorders, high stress, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), past trauma experiences, and other mental health problems, so you should consult mental health professionals for help.