“You will always have problems. Learn to enjoy life while solving them.”
A major change in life (related to career or family) which requires wide scale decision making or problem solving brings inconvenience and sometimes a little trouble causes a cycle of anxiety-provoking thoughts or one repetitive thought in mind. One starts dwelling on even little choices and wondering about “what-ifs” so much (overthinking) that an individual becomes anxious.
It is totally normal to think about one thing for a period of time but when daily life activities like sleep, work, relationships or health are hampered, it’s a sign of chronic overthinking.
Overthinking happens when a person keeps thinking about same thing again and again, analysing simple things or situations till it creates feelings of anxiety and stress.
Overthinking is a common and natural phenomenon that can hit anyone anytime without any prior notice or warning. Overthinking can cause some serious problems and damage to one’s personal as well as professional life depending on its severity as well one’s ability to deal with it. Repetitive thoughts involved in overthinking if not stopped or tackled, they can cause mental health problems like anxiety, stress and depression. A person creates a Self-made trap wherein one confines him/herself and thinks it is impossible to come out of it. This is related to learned helplessness that occurs in the case of depression.
The risks associated with overthinking are not only enhanced but becomes a serious concern and a threat when it is supplemented with fear, stress, anxiety and negative emotions. Under such circumstances, one is unable to do the simplest of tasks in life without anxiety and outlook of life becomes negative.
Signs that you are overthinking
- You are not looking for solutions and just getting anxious
- Your thinking is negative, fearful and demotivating
- You are not able to have a good quality of sleep
- Your decision making skills and problem solving skills are hampered
- You are fixating on things you can’t change or control
- You are replaying your mistakes in mind again and again
Ways to Manage Overthinking
1. Schedule worrying
Fix a time in the day for no more than 15 minutes where you will let yourself worry. Don’t let your mind wander into worrying at any other time of the day. It helps us to become more mindful of the way we worry, think and also allows us to notice the thoughts that are within our control and develop motivation to deal with them.
Allow your brain to take a break for a few minutes. Some ways you can do this:
- Pay attention on your breathing
- Focus on a calming sound
- Repeat any positive sentence (affirmation) to yourself
- Watch nature and funny videos
2. Understand the triggers and associated thoughts
Being aware or mindful about the triggers of our tension or overthinking can help us to manage it. Do a mental dump of your worries. Freely write all your thoughts on a journal and also the specific situations in which overthinking occurs.
You can also try responding to some of these prompts:
- What’s something that I’m worried about right now?
- What sensations am I feeling in my body?
- How do I react in this specific situation?
Overtime, this trick will help to observe patterns and finally understand that where the overthinking is coming from. So, that one can try to avoid such triggering situations or if not possible to do so, then one can develop coping strategies to deal with overthinking provoking situations.
3. Challenge your thoughts
“Overthinking; the art of creating new problems out of ones that never existed in the first place”
Sometimes, one just develops anxiety provoking thoughts out of fear in mind and those are not even logical. For Instance, due to the fear of exams, one starts thinking “what if I fail” or “what if I miss my bus on the day of exam” and this cycle of thought doesn’t let him/her study.
In cases like this, the best way to manage overthinking is challenge worries and view them objectively. When no evidence is found, overthinking starts declining.
- Are these thoughts facts?
- Are these thoughts serving me?
Imagine the worst and then prepare to handle/accept it.
Make a list of:
- 3 things you can do to prevent the thing from happening
- 3 skills you have/ 3 reasons you know you can handle it
- 3 reasons it probably won’t happen
We worry less when we know we are equipped to handle the thing that we’re fearful of.
“Don’t overthinking, put you energy on something that you really want to do”
Overthinking stops an individual from living in the present moment and forces him/her to keep dwelling in the past. Thus, practicing meditation for few minutes can bring back an individual from past and allow him/her to become mindful of present surroundings and situations. It also helps in taking a break from constantly thinking about stressful and negative situations and focus the attention on something relaxing and positive.
6. Seek Professional Help
When one starts to feel that it is too difficult and out of hand to bring down the overthinking and is about to spiral into depression or an anxiety disorder, then, he/she must seek professional help. A Counsellor can help to notice anxiety provoking thoughts and suggest activities to deal with them in a proper way.
Speak to Counsellor at OnlineCounselling4U
Online counselling services include professionals who can help with a variety of mental illnesses and problems. Online counsellors can help you listen, offer solutions, and even provide support. These services can be accessed via chat, email, phone, or video calls. You can now access professional assistance from the comfort of your own home.
OnlineCounselling4U provides a platform that allows you to connect with Mental Health Experts who will be there for you when you need them. Get in touch with our Psychologists/Counsellors today to resolve your mental health issues from the root.
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