Trapped in Your Head: A Guide to Overthinking

Events happen in life that can change us forever. While conflicts arise for everyone, it’s how individuals handle these issues and move on that shapes them in the end.

Thinking things through when something has happened (or is about to happen) can be a good thing. However, overthinking any situation until it takes over your very being can be detrimental to your mental health.

Overthinking can be defined as placing too much emphasis and spending too much time analyzing or thinking about something, someone, or a situation, which in the end does more harm than good.

The Positives

There are some positive elements to the act of overthinking.

First and foremost, research has revealed that there is a connection between overthinking and creativity, although the reason behind this link is uncertain. Due to dissecting every element within a situation, thanks to their overthinking, overthinkers tend to be excellent problem solvers. They also possess an incredible attention to detail, which is an excellent skill to have in any kind of job or career field.

Thus, it’s no surprise that overthinkers tend to achieve high standards when it comes to academics. While the anxiety and fear of failure plagues an overthinker, it does tend to be a positive quality to have when dealing with school stuff, whether an you’re in the primary grades or pursuing post-secondary education.

Lastly, overthinkers tend to excel when it comes to introspection, the observation or examination of an individual’s emotional and mental processes. Thanks to thinking of every little detail within a situation, and any crazy outcome known to man, overthinkers use introspection to isolate weaknesses and work hard at finding a way to correct them.

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The Negatives

Overthinking can feel like you have a hundred Internet tabs open within your brain and can consume you with negative thoughts. Those who struggle with overthinking also tend to suffer from anxiety, and these two mental health issues can be hard to overcome.

Have you ever spoken up in a meeting, seminar, or during a discussion with a new group of people and thought your statement seemed ridiculous? Overthinkers can pick apart each and every word they have said until the most outlandish outcome to the scenario seems like reality. Worrying about what they say or do can overcome their thoughts, and the thoughts mostly tend to be negative ones, which can complicate even the simplest of situations.

These worrisome and negative thoughts can paralyze overthinkers and create indecisiveness. It’s hard to decide on anything when the worst possible scenario becomes a solid conclusion. As such, overthinkers can be overwhelmed with a feeling of fear, constantly. When you don’t make decisions and you don’t move forward in life, this can also affect your self-confidence, and overthinking can eat away at your self-esteem.

Lastly, overthinking is simply draining, both emotionally and physically. Many overthinkers spend many a sleepless night thinking about whatever is bothering them or replaying minor mistakes they’ve made, over and over, in their minds. This can affect their overall energy levels and result in exhaustion and, at times, depression as well.

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How to Manage Overthinking

There is hope for the overthinker to overcome the millions of thoughts that fly through their head daily. Here are some tips to help manage overthinking.

Awareness

Being aware of your overthinking is the first step. Some overthinkers may not even be aware that they are doing what they are doing. Therefore, as an overthinker, it’s important to start paying attention to your thinking. If you find yourself thinking about a specific event or worrying about something that is out of your control, it’s time to acknowledge that you’ve slipped into the overthinking hole.

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Perspective

Paying attention to one’s overthinking is a good start, as many overthinkers can’t help what they are doing, and negative ideas and worry can be overwhelming. A terrific way to battle this is placing the event or circumstance that you are overthinking in perspective, especially when dealing with minor issues.

Will this be something you worry about three months from now? What about three years? Will it really matter over time? Placing the situation in perspective can help an individual snap out of overthinking mode to concentrate on what is going on in the now.

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Best Possible Outcome

The problem with overthinking is the negative and worry around the “worst possible scenario,” which nine out of 10 times will never even happen. Still, overthinkers should be encouraged to rewire their brains and think of the best possible scenario to any situation that has them down.

Sure, missing that meeting might mean you get passed up for the dream job you have wanted for a while in the department, but maybe it’ll open the door for something even better! Positive thinking is a great way to overcome negative thoughts.

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Let It Go

One of the biggest factors around overthinking is the lack of control in knowing what the outcome will be in uncertain situations. Thinking through a thousand different scenarios offers an overthinker the idea that they have control over something, helping them to “prepare” for any and all things that may arise — so, they don’t fail, make a mistake, or look stupid.

Truth is, anything can happen in life and once overthinkers learn to let go and understand there are things beyond their control, then those extra, and crazy thoughts, of outlandish possible outcomes in a situation will subside.

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Keep Busy

Most overthinkers have a certain time within the day where their overthinking lingers. If you feel a bout of overthinking coming on, run some errands, do some chores around the house, put on some music to distract you, or read a good book. Try and stay busy during the active overthinking hours.

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Talk to A Friend

Sometimes talking about your overthinking with a supportive friend can go a long way. Crazy thoughts running through your mind is one thing but saying them out loud to someone who cares can truly help in realizing that what you are thinking will probably never come to fruition.

If you can’t find a friend, seek counselling or therapy as an alternative. Sometimes an objective person to talk is the best medicine for an overthinker.

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Stay Healthy

Research has shown that negative overthinking is linked to stress (or the occurrence of a stressful situation) and connected to anxiety and depression. Sometimes the best way to handle stress is to make sure to keep your body and mind healthy. A good step in the right direction is ensuring you have an adequate night’s sleep, eating right, and ensuring you get regular exercise weekly. Healthy life choices are a solid way to battle the act of overthinking.

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Live in The Now

One of the worst things about overthinking is how it takes people away from the moment. They spend family vacations, children’s birthday parties, and even gatherings with friends, overthinking. It’s important to try and push your brain to stop overthinking in order to enjoy life in the moment.

Take pictures, savor sweet memories, and enjoy the conversation of a good friend, family member, or neighbor. Years from now, whatever you are worrying about will be a distant thought; however, the good memories you create in life with loved ones are in danger of being wasted, thanks to overthinking.

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Jun 20, 2018