29 May This is exactly how overthinking is damaging your well-being
via the Ladders by Melissa Chu
Imagine that it’s close to bedtime.
You’ve finished a long day of work, ate dinner, and watched TV. You get into bed and relax by doing some reading.
After a while, you realize it’s getting late and decide to call it a night. You reach over and turn off the light. It’s pitch dark now.
You know you should be falling asleep. And yet there you are, staring at the ceiling. Your mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts.
You think back to something you said and wonder if things came out wrong. You reflect on a past action that resulted in negative consequences. Then, you start to worry about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
With each passing thought, you feel yourself sinking into a low mood.
If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from overthinking.
Thinking Too Much Can Damage Your Mental Health
Worrying about an event or remembering a painful memory is a normal phenomenon. We all have moments where we think back to a situation and analyze how it went. But after a while, these thoughts go away and we move onto something else.
For an overthinker though, these thoughts don’t simply drift away. Like a faucet that can’t turn off, one worry leads to another. Overthinkers spend endless hours regretting events in the past or feeling anxious about the future.
Some indicators that you tend to overthink include the following:
- You imagine all the potential worst-case scenarios.
- You think back to past conversations and what you should and shouldn’t have said.
- You rehash everything a person said or did, and the deeper meaning behind their actions.
- You get so wrapped in your thoughts that you “zone out” in front of others.
- You beat yourself up over things that happened in the past.These thoughts end up consuming your life, as if a raincloud were sitting above your head. When you overthink, you may believe your mind is just sorting things out. But that simply isn’t the case.
There’s a clear difference between overthinking and problem-solving.
Unlike overthinking, problem-solving is a positive and productive act. Solving a problem means identifying the dilemma, looking for alternatives, and then finding the best solution. It leads you to proactively try and resolve an issue.
Overthinking, however, is about fixation. Your mind stays stuck on the first step of problem-solving: the dilemma. It’s a negative and unproductive act because you only focus on the problem without trying to find a way past it.
Problem-solving is about improving a situation while overthinking centers around the idea that there is no way out. You’re stuck in a pit, looking hopelessly upward with no chance of escape.
Ruminating, defined as “to think deeply” (and has a secondary meaning, “to chew the cud”), has harmful effects on our mental health. Research has shown that there is a link between rumination and depression and anxiety.
Stressful life events lead to increased ruminating, which triggers depression and anxiety in the long run. In turn, depression and anxiety lead to more rumination. It’s a vicious circle that’s difficult to escape.
Escaping the Tendency to Overthink
Once you’re stuck in a harmful train of thought, it feels more comfortable to stay there than to leave. You cling to your habits out of a sense of familiarity.
However, you can take active steps to change that behavior. You can shift from tiring yourself out with your thoughts to finding solutions. By reaching a conclusion, you can gain closure and peace of mind.
To do so, here are four ways to stop overthinking…
… keep reading the full & original article HERE
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