Overthinking: Something is on your mind, and you continuously think about it; the thought gets deeper and you start thinking about consequences, events, and possibilities. – Urban Dictionary
If you overthink about something then you are allowing the topic to linger for far too long in your mind. This can disturb your mind and won’t let you do your work properly. Often, the end result is poor a judgment, elevated stress, and inaction.
Thinking about something can be acceptable to a certain extent, but if you think about anything then that won’t be a good sign. Thinking is a critical action that has to be taken regularly. Inability to act cripples many of the world’s great minds, effectively rendering their brilliant and innovative ideas useless. These are the folks for whom the axiom, “You’re too smart for your own good,” was invented.
“Analysis paralysis”, this term describes it perfectly – only in two words – the negative effect of overthinking. Whenever we overanalyze anything, we often tend to stress out. As a result, the body releases the stress hormones. Epinephrine and Cortisol are the two stress hormones. Because of the flood of stress hormones, we always find it much more difficult to think clearly – and sometimes we just freeze up.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that overthinking can ruin someone’s life. Ruminating on thoughts – good or bad – can halt someone from progressing and moving forward. This can affect badly to your future. In turn, this leads to underachievement, frustration, and even mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. It is critical, therefore, that we halt the flood of seemingly never-ending thoughts, especially if they are negative.
HERE ARE 6 WAYS TO STOP YOURSELF FROM OVERTHINKING:
- BECOME SELF-AWARE
You can stop overthinking by being more self-aware. We can stop any sort of behavior, in the first place we must be aware of it before it occurs. Overthinking is a flood of thoughts that can manifest as physical and mental symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, and lack of concentration. Whenever you notice a stream of disconnected or anxiety-inducing thoughts, cut them off as soon as possible and focus on the work pending.
- DISTRACT YOURSELF
When it comes to overthinking, distract yourself by actively disengaging from stressful thoughts. If you find it hard to get back into the swing of positive thinking, distract yourself by taking a break, reading, or playing a game.
- DON’T SUPPRESS YOUR THOUGHTS
Anyone with an anxiety disorder (including this writer) will tell you that thought suppression is counterproductive. The reason is very simple: your brain tends to think more than you actually want – that’s what it does. It isn’t unusual to have thoughts enter your head. In fact, you’re probably in trouble if you don’t! That said, don’t tense up and try to “steal” yourself from intrusive thoughts.
- BECOME AN OBSERVER
Did you know that pointless rumination – that is, dwelling on bad things – is the primary cause of anxiety and depression? This is the first and second most common mental health conditions. Observing your thoughts is noticing that the things are ready to attempt and to pull your attention away from the moment – and then bring your attention back to your breath, your work, or your body. Notice that this is the opposite of thought suppression!
- SET REMINDERS
Let’s not kid ourselves: we must stop ourselves from overthinking. It is not an easy feat, as breaking entrenched habits of the brain requires effort. The mind will continue to operate in its “default” mode unless given other directions. You must understand to operate your mind in different ways. In this regard, setting reminders is an excellent method for changing up your mental habits. So you can start to follow up your daily routine in a correct manner.
You can have schedule reminders on your computer’s calendar, or you can also put a few Post-Its around your house and office with phrases like “Here and now!” “Where’s your head?” or, “Be an observer.” Repetition is the mother of all learning! Etc.
- FORGET ABOUT BEING PERFECT
Some people think that being a perfectionist would be great, but it’s not the truth. In fact, perfectionists tend to have higher rates of anxiety and lower quality of life. An inability to let go, continually second-guessing and comparing themselves, having unrealistic expectations, and always needing to be in control are just a few reasons why perfectionists have a harder time. Paying more attention to the process as opposed to the outcome is good advice for those with a perfectionist streak.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to be patient. Understand that setbacks are part of changing any habit, including those of our brain. Pay attention to the present moment. Slow down and focus your attention on what’s going on here and now. Don’t overthink the past or worry too much about the future. After all, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”