Do you over analyse situations? Do you dwell on your past mistakes? Do you stress about future events that have not even happened yet? You might be a classic overthinker. We all are guilty of overthinking from time to time, and it's natural. But the real problem starts when it becomes habitual. Though overthinking might not be a definitive medical term, it is still very much real. It is bad for your mental, physical, and social life, and needs to be curtailed.
Ill-effects of Overthinking
- Poor performance at work or in school or college.
- Some studies have linked overthinking to depression.
- Overthinking is also associated with Post traumatic stress.
- Stress and anxiety about everything.
When reading about overthinking, you'll come across the term rumination, whose literal meaning refers to cows regurgitating and ruminating their food. Regarding overthinking, it refers to constantly going over the same thoughts, memories, and experiences. So, if you catch yourself constantly mentally ruminating, you might be heading toward becoming an overthinker. But there are a few things you can do to stop yourself from overthinking.
Learn to Catch Yourself: Overthinking becomes a habit when you don't know that you are doing it. So, train yourself to know when you are ruminating on thoughts and jog yourself out. If you can come up with a mental or physical cue that you can use to stop ruminating.
Distract Yourself: Distraction is a great way to completely snap out of overthinking because there’s a shift in your thought process. You can learn something new, indulge in a hobby, and do some physically strenuous work, all these are great distractions that can change your focus.
Recognise Patterns: Recognising patterns that start right before you start overthinking is another great way to protect yourself. Sometimes, overthinking has a trigger, or some particular things happen that take you towards those repetitive thoughts. Learn to recognise these patterns and train yourself to get out of them or avoid them altogether.
Be in the Present: Most ruminating thoughts tend to be about the past or the future. You have to train yourself to be in the now. Be aware of your surroundings, be actively involved in whatever you are doing, and keep your thoughts to what is in front of you. Focusing on your breath can also help you bring yourself back to the present. This way, you'll be a lot more self-aware.
Meditation: Another way to be more self-aware is by practicing meditation. Meditation also helps you clear your mind of unwanted thoughts. If you don't have enough time, you can start small. Try just taking 5 minutes out of your day. Isolate yourself to a quiet spot and do some deep breathing. Meditate on the present or singular positive thoughts and you'll feel the difference. Keep increasing your meditation time till you find the right balance.
Review Work-Life Balance: Many times, a skewed work-life balance is the reason behind overthinking. So, you need to reassess your work-life balance and make changes accordingly. This process will take time but will definitely help you with your overthinking.
Overthinking can have an impact on all aspects of your life, so it is better to protect yourself from it. If you have already become an overthinker, you can still apply the above-given advice and reduce overthinking. You can also take help from mental health professionals, you can always come to Tending Minds, one of the best psychological clinics in Pune, who will assess you and guide you better.