Overthinking can cause stress. Overthinking creates indecision. It causes anxiety, and it interrupts sleep. It goes hand in hand with procrastination.
What is Overthinking?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of overthinking 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.
The Dangers Of Overthinking
Overthinking isn’t just an annoyance; it can take a serious toll on your well-being. Dwelling on your shortcomings, mistakes, problems, and issues can increase your risk of mental health problems.
Studies also show that overthinking leads to severe emotional distress. To escape that distress, some over-thinkers turn to unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol or food.
How to Avoid Overthinking
Putting an end to overthinking is easier said than done, but with conscious, consistent practice, you can limit overthinking and negative thinking. Here are 3 steps you can take.
- Become Aware of When You’re Thinking Too Much
Awareness is the first step to avoid overthinking. When you notice you’re replaying events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can’t control, catch yourself and acknowledge that those thoughts aren’t productive. Take deep breaths, regain control, and redirect your thoughts.
- Don’t Think of What Can Go Wrong, Think About What Can Go Right
In many cases, overthinking is caused by fear. When you focus on the negative things that can happen, it’s easy to be scared. Remove that fear by visualizing all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts in the forefront of your mind.
Avoiding these behaviors will help you to stop overthinking:
- Personalization: blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong
- Emotional reasoning: basing your view of situations, yourself, or others, on the way you are feeling.
- Overgeneralization: drawing conclusions that are too broad
- Catastrophizing: jumping to the worst possible conclusion after a minor setback
- Let it Go
It’s not just a popular song on Disney’s Frozen soundtrack. It is the real-life practice of releasing negative thoughts and bad habits. Once you are aware of your overthinking and negative thoughts and have turned them into positive thoughts, you can release all the negativity that is attached to the situation. Some do this through journaling, meditation, connecting with nature, or talking to a friend.
Ask For Help
Seeking help is one of the best ways to avoid overthinking, negative thoughts, and unhealthy behavior. If you struggle to control your emotions or are feeling overly anxious, consider seeing a qualified therapist.