Think about (something) too much or for too long.
The term ‘overthinking’ has been increasingly used by people around the world over the past two years, thanks to a pandemic. A lot of people overthink, especially young adults. According to a study at the University of Michigan, 73 percent of Americans aged 25-35 overthink, compared with 52 percent of 45-55 year-olds. And I used to be one of them before I realized where I was going wrong and decided to make amends. The outcome was a new perspective on life, a new way of living. And trust me, it was more than worth the effort.
In the paragraphs that follow, I address a few concerns that come to mind (FAQs, if you may) and list the best ways to deal with overthinking that personally helped me ‘get out of my head.’
How Do I Know if I Am Overthinking?
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one. Oxford defines overthinking as thinking too much for too long. So what qualifies as too much? When you find yourself thinking or worrying about stuff you don’t have any control over, you might be overthinking.
Here are a few signs that you are overthinking it:
- You can’t stop worrying and often worry about things that hardly matter.
- You replay embarrassing moments in your head, mentally putting yourself through the same mistakes multiple times.
- You get caught up in the “what if…” questions. For instance, when you keep thinking, “What if I mess this up?” “What if they don’t like me?” Yeah, it might be too much thinking.
- You have trouble sleeping because your brain won’t shut off.
- While replaying conversations in your head, you find yourself second-guessing and thinking about all the stuff you wish you had or hadn’t said.
- You spend a lot of time thinking about some ‘hidden meaning’ or implication behind events or things that people say.
- When someone acts in a way you don’t like, you keep dwelling on it.
- You spend so much time mulling over some past event or thinking about the future that you end up missing what’s going on in the moment.
Why Is Overthinking Such a Bad Thing?
The human brain is designed to learn from mistakes so as not to repeat them. It’s only natural to have second thoughts about your past decisions or be cautious about future ones. But only to a reasonable extent.
The Cycle of Unproductivity: Mulling or obsessing over situations you can’t control is an unproductive habit that leads to dissatisfaction and more overthinking. It is a vicious cycle that affects your state of mind and turns toxic in the long run. In this way, overthinking induces a negative state of mind and hinders your growth.
Overthinking may also cause excessive cerebral activity that might be detrimental to you. A Harvard study states that this excess brain activity can cause the depletion of a vital protein that may shorten your lifespan in the long run.
I know all this jargon may sound scary, but it’s not. Since you are here and willing to work, you have it under control! And it’s not going to be too hard.
Now the burning question, how to get rid of it?
How to Deal with Overthinking: 8 Tricks that Really Helped Me
- Take it Easy: First of all, relax. It’s just overthinking, not cancer! You’re already good, and you’ll be even better once you overcome it.
- Accept the Fact that You Can’t Control Everything: See, here’s the catch—If you try to control everything, you’ll end up controlling nothing. Human capacity is limited, and you can’t be present everywhere, please everyone, and be perfect at everything you do.
Get your priorities straight. Choose one thing, and let go of the others. As you practice letting go, you’ll gradually find yourself worrying less and living more.
- Keep Busy: Overthinking can result from many things, but one of the most common is being idle.
Studies show that 90% of the people diagnosed with anxiety and depression have a higher than average IQ. Now you’ll wonder what it has to do with overthinking.
Well, you see, when a brain of higher than average intelligence doesn’t have much to do, it finds work for itself. In other words, if we remain idle for a long time, we start overthinking and over-evaluating simple things.
Keep yourself occupied with something or other. The next time you are idle, go out for a stroll, make plans with friends, read a book, or learn a new skill rather than just binge-watching Netflix or scrolling through social media.
- Physical Activity is Crucial: A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Classic, but true. Working out, jogging, or even just walking 2-3 miles each day increases the flow of blood and, thus, oxygen throughout your body. This increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, which keeps it in a healthy condition.
In the 21st century lifestyle, working on a computer from morning till evening, it is easy to become inactive and feel lousy. But taking 20 minutes out of your schedule to exercise your body is a worthwhile investment.
- Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself: Everybody messes up and embarrasses themselves at times, not just you. It’s completely normal, so there’s no need to be too hard on yourself. It’s OKAY to make mistakes.
- The Trigger Detox: Next time you feel yourself sinking into the overthinking loop, stop and rewind your thought process: How did it start? What triggered it? After doing this exercise a few times, you’ll discover a pattern.
One of my triggers was social media. I noticed that I closed Instagram in a more anxious state than when I opened it. So, I went on a complete social media detox for 2 weeks. And the results were quick. Nowadays, I still scroll social media, but it doesn’t affect me the way it used to.
- Get A Hobby: Having a hobby or a passion really helps to increase drive and motivation. Having something to work towards in your free time is a special form of self-care that helps develop your personality and improves your mental health.
- Live In The Moment: The past is unalterable, and the future is uncertain. What really matters is the present—another cliche but still a universal fact.
Be there, be present. Instead of running on autopilot, put conscious thought into whatever you are doing at the moment.
Try not to zone out too often and make the most out of every minute. Remember, your happiness depends on your current state of mind.
I used to zone out a lot while I was showering, so I started paying more attention to the process, taking time to enjoy the feel of water and lather on my skin, and thinking of ways to make the experience better.
Having said all that, the fundamental change is in your mindset. These tricks are just a supplement to help you along the way.
Start caring less about other people’s opinions and more about growth. Try to loosen up and go with the flow because life remains unpredictable. So you might as well enjoy life while it lasts!
About the Author: Aditi Jain is a life enthusiast, content writer, and blogger. Aditi likes to write about problems faced by people in their daily lives, and offer practical solutions. On weekends, you can find her with a cup of tea in one hand and a new self-help book in the other.
Link to Aditi’s blog: https://firstname.lastname@example.org
May Is Mental Health Month 2022
“Back to Basics”
May is Mental Health Month, a time to spread public awareness and education about mental health disorders and reflect on the impact of mental illness on individuals and their families.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Month is “Back to Basics.” The goal this May is to provide foundational knowledge about mental health and mental health conditions and spread information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.
It is also a time to recognize and commit to changing the racial and economic inequities in our health care system, particularly with respect to mental health.
www.rtor.org and Laurel House are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice, and to making mental health services accessible to all.
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*Word definition by www.oxfordlearningdictionaries
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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