DISCLAIMER: I am 100% aware that overthinking isn't always an easy thing to stop. However, I do believe that everyone should aim to avoid it in order to feel better. ⚠

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That being said, let's get started!!

☺ What is overthinking?

Merriam-Webster's definition is: "to think too much about (something) : to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing (something) in a way that is more harmful than helpful."

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☺ Why do we overthink?

Overthinking is easy to do and can give people a temporary sense of control. I mean, if you take away the negative side effect of poor mental health, it seems kinda cool.

Hear me out. What if I told you that I could give you a solution to all of your worries for the future? That I could show you a series of multiple scenarios that could all equally play out so no matter what happens you are prepared?

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From a psychological perspective, it comes from "...self-doubt; self-esteem issues; concern about repeating past patterns in relation to prior bad experiences; traumatic experiences; or anxiety..." [Dr. Jeffrey Huttman for MyDomain]. Which also coincides with the way I glamorized it here because it offers people with these problems an easy solution.

☺ How is it a bad thing?

You might be thinking "Well, Sofie, the way you just described it makes overthinking seem nice and if it helps people with mental health issues cope it can't be that bad," (or not idk).

The reality is that overthinking is glamorized like most toxic habits are. Not only does it encourage cycling constantly in unrealistic/unreal scenarios, but also ruins your physical and mental wellbeing.

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[The following is information from an article by HuffPost over the effects of overthinking in a person; linked with the other sources. For more information, I recommend reading it as well].

Ways overthinking affects you:

↳ 1. It causes you to avoid taking actions (a.k.a. "analysis paralysis") because you become so worried about the potential consequences. On a more "scientific" level it overrides your gut instinct for the same reasons it prevents you from acting.

↳ 2. You can lose your creativity, a Stanford study suggests. This is because overthinking makes your creativity burn out or can leave you stuck in the editing phase of a project because you can't let it go.

↳ 3. You become less energized because you're using up all your brainpower on something essentially useless and damaging.

↳ 4. Loss of sleep and appetite which comes from both the anxiety these scenarios may cause (increased blood pressure) and also increased stress.

☺ Is it ever a good thing?

No.

The key word is over in overthinking. Though, regular thinking and taking calm, rational actions is acceptable. Don't let an unrealistic scenario keep you from doing great things, but think just enough to not get yourself into trouble. Balance is key.

☺ What are some ways to alleviate it?

Firstly, you need to identify whether or not you actually are overthinking.

"Here are 10 warning signs that you’re overthinking:

1. I can’t stop worrying.
2. I often worry about things I have no control over.
3. I constantly remind myself of mistakes.
4. I relive embarrassing moments in my mind over and over.
5. I often ask myself "what if..." questions.
6. I have difficulty sleeping because it feels like my brain won't shut off.
7. When I recall conversations with people, I can’t help but think about all the things I wish I had or hadn't said.
8. I spend a lot of free time thinking about the hidden meaning behind things people say or events that occur.
9. When someone says something or acts in a way I don't like, I dwell on it.
10. I spend so much time either dwelling on past events or worrying about the future that I often miss what’s going on in the present," (Amy Morin, Forbes).

If you actually are overthinking, try to distract your mind by doing things such as watching TV, talking with someone, painting, writing, working out, etc.

☺ How do I learn to cope with it?

Sadly, overthinking isn't something that just disappears. It's something everyone falls into every now and again, but it's okay. The best way to overcome it is to become its friend.

A few tips to cope:

  • Save some time during the day to overthink and just let it all out then.
  • Keep yourself busy.
  • If you can't control invasive thoughts (like me) remind yourself that it isn't real and you'll be okay no matter what.
  • Talk to a therapist about the way you overthink.
  • Don't try to shove the thoughts away because they might resurface, instead debunk them and move on.
  • Ignore any urges to self-destruct or hide away from what you want in life.
  • Act before you can process what just happened to avoid overthinking and not acting.

☺ The takeaway is...

The takeaway is that you shouldn't let overthinking control your life. Spend more time doing things instead of thinking about doing them. Sometimes we call it "being lazy" just like we do when other forms of mental health issues keep us from doing things (anxiety keeping you away from social settings; depression keeping you from getting out of bed). However, it isn't the case and you shouldn't attack yourself either for not feeling good enough to do things...but like...you should still do them because that's the first step in getting better.

Thanks for reading!!

xx

More by me!

Sources to look at:

✧(https://www.huffpost.com/entry/overthinking-effects_l_5dd2bd67e4b0d2e79f90fe1b)

✧(https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2020/04/20/10-signs-youre-overthinking-and-what-to-do-about-it/#5ad16c2d2bb8)

✧(https://www.mydomaine.com/overthinking-hacks)

✧(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overthink)