It may not be true for everyone, but overthinking and anxiety go hand-in-hand for a vast number of people. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s incredibly likely you’ll be a overthinker too. Work, school, relationships, past events, plans for the future and more—there’s a lot in life that can be painstakingly picked through for hours and hours in your head, through sleepless nights, throughout the day and in early, anxiety-filled mornings. It’s not just the major stuff either: overthinking and overanalysing can rear its head in simple, unassuming situations too. A simple conversation with a shop employee? That can become lodged in your consciousness for hours, days or even longer.
Needless to say, a tendency to overthink can be dangerous for your overall mental wellbeing. That’s why it’s vitally important to understand what causes overthinking as well as develop strategies that can help you curb your runaway thoughts.
What Causes Overthinking?
There’s no single factor that causes every overthinker to suffer the way they do. For some, it’s a lack of self-confidence; others might live with it as a symptom of an anxiety disorder; many even develop patterns of overanalysing after an unpleasant past experience. You’re own cause could be a combination of those three, or it could be something else entirely. It’s worth reflecting on what causes you to overanalyse.
Keeping a journal of your rampant thoughts can help you work to the root at the bottom. If you’re not too keen on writing, a therapist can help you do the same thing. With something as personal as your own thoughts, it’s inevitable that the journey of understanding them will be a personal one, completely unique to you.
The Cycle of Overthinking
While the specific reason at the centre of anyone’s overthinking tendencies is unique to them, the cycle of overthinking that can easily develop is near-universal. As you begin to sink deeper into your overanalysis, your self-confidence shatters and your mental health suffers. This, in turn, leads to more aggressive overthinking and a further decline in mental health. Without intervention, this cycle will only continue, dominating your thoughts and hindering your ability to live happily.
How to Overcome Overthinking
Recognise When You’re Overthinking
It might sound obvious and a little absurd, but making a point of acknowledging when you’re overthinking is a crucial step in overcoming the issue itself. By doing this, not only will you be able to attempt to stop the thoughts (something that will get easier with practise), but you’ll also be able to take note of the thoughts and events surrounding the period of overthinking.
Challenge Your Thoughts and Ideas
Overanalysing tends to produce irrational thoughts. By challenging them, or asking the help of someone else to challenge them, you can begin to break them down and expose their irrationality. Over time, this will help reduce the power they have over you.
Meditation can help anyone with a busy head, but it’s especially beneficial for those who endlessly overanalyse. Carving out just 5 or 10 minutes each day for meditation can, eventually, help show you how to keep those nagging thoughts from taking hold.
There’s no reason to let overthinking take over your life. With some knowledge, self-awareness and support, you can put a stop to those thoughts and reclaim your happiness.
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