If you find yourself overthink a lot, you should take steps to avoid overthinking as it affects health negatively.
Often times it feels like we are trapped in our thoughts that we can’t seem to get out of. Ruminating about your past and worrying about the future without finding a resolution can be exhausting. But we still continue to overthink when there is a big decision to take or an issue we’re trying to deal with. Overthinking is a pattern of repetitive and unproductive thought process. The truth is that we all tend to overthink from time to time. As we go through everyday challenges, we hold onto our thoughts to give us a sense of control. It makes us feel like we’re problem-solving and working through these challenges. But, we may fail to recognize that we might be stuck in a vicious downward spiral. In this article, Archana Dinesh, Clinical Psychologist at Authentic Living explains all about overthinking including cause, symptoms, effects and tips to avoid overthinking. Make sure to read till the end.
Before we change our thought patterns, it is important to notice and become aware of them. Here are some of the signs to recognize if you're overthinking -
Our ability to think is one of the greatest gifts we have as human beings. When faced with challenges or when there is a need to plan, we use our thinking capacity to find solutions.
Here is what to do to stop overthinking:
Overthinking can have some negative effects on your mental health. Have you noticed that overthinking can interfere with your daily life? You might be out with your friends and yet be preoccupied with something that your manager said about your work. We don’t actively engage in worrying, ruminating or overthinking.
Here are some tips to deal with overthinking.
As we recognized earlier, noticing overthinking is an important part of dealing with them. As our thought processes can take us to the past or the future, it’s important to bring our awareness to the present moment. Being aware of our thoughts can help us observe them from a non-judgmental perspective. “My thoughts are about what will happen in the future, which is not in my control at the present moment”. Being non-judgmental would mean that we are not evaluating our thoughts, but rather just observing them. This will also help us become aware of the vicious cycle of overthinking.
Once we become aware of these thought patterns, it would help to label them as overthinking. This perspective will help us to disengage from the downward spiral of thoughts. “I notice that I am overthinking. I don’t need to give meaning to these thoughts”. Also, remember that thoughts are thoughts. They are not facts.
If you notice that you worry all the time, try to postpone your thoughts. Set out a specific time and place to worry. This works paradoxically to reduce negative thoughts. Firstly, it would help you break the spiraling of thoughts. Secondly, when you revisit the thoughts later at the specified time, you will be able to manage your worries more effectively by focusing on things that are in your control.
When you recognize and disengage from overthinking, you might also experience feeling anxious or a sense of losing control. Try to ground yourself to the present by engaging in sensory experiences such as hearing, sight, touch, taste and feel. For example, notice 5 things in red around you, hear the sounds around you, taste a sour lemon, or wash your face with cold water. Grounding yourself can give you a greater sense of control.
Overthinking can make you feel anxious and feeling anxious can increase overthinking, forming a vicious circle. You can break this loop with some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, going for a walk, playing with your pet, or any other activities that can make you feel calm and relaxed.
Lastly, the final resort to get rid of overthinking is seek professional help. You don’t have to deal with your thoughts alone. Consult a therapist who can guide you through challenging these thought patterns and break out of the habit of overthinking.
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