Managing Overthinking: A roadmap to calming your mind

In its simplest form, overthinking is problem-solving that has gone awry. To overthink is to spend more time repetitively dwelling or ruminating on situations or thoughts than is necessary or productive. By definition, overthinking is a futile exercise that will ultimately drain your energy, confidence, and motivation. 

What causes overthinking? 

Overthinking may have its root cause in past traumatic events experienced by a person, can be caused by self-doubt or low self-esteem, or may simply be a product of stress and anxiety about the future. 

Additionally, there may be a link between the tendency to overthink and the personality type of the overthinker. Certain personality types have been found to be more likely to fall into the trap of overthinking, such as those who tend towards perfectionism or individuals who feel a need to be in control. 

The dangers of overthinking

Overthinking is more than just an unproductive pastime and can actually have a more serious impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of a person. 

Firstly, fixating on situations or problems can increase your proclivity for mental health issues, such as mood disorders, depression, stress and anxiety. The cycle of overthinking is therefore so vicious that it can even alter the very fabric of your brain. 

As such, it is no surprise that overthinking can severely impact a person’s ability to think logically, make sound decisions, and solve problems. 

Overthinking may also impact the physical health of a person, and may wreak havoc on the immune system. This is because stress reduces the number of white blood cells in the body, which are crucial in defending the body against antigens. As a result, overthinking increases the chances of struggling with constant illness or allergies. 

Moreover, overthinking often causes insomnia, which saps the energy and concentration of the overthinker, and further compounds the problems mentioned above.  

Tips for managing overthinking

The triggers for overthinking are many and varied. While it is hardly possible for a person to change their personality type, there are ways in which we can calm our minds and break the cycle of overthinking.

Here’s how you can combat overthinking:

  • Practice awareness – whenever you feel any self-doubt creeping into your mind, take a step back, review the situation, and acknowledge how you are responding to it. 
  • Focus on the positives – don’t focus on the things that can go wrong, and instead think about the things that can go right!
  • Put things into perspective – ask yourself whether the situation that is causing you to overthink is really going to matter in a year or even in the next month. 
  • Realise you can’t control the future – don’t waste your time worrying about things that you can’t control. Instead, focus your time and effort on thoughts that can make a real difference in improving your situation in a productive way. 
  • Release yourself from the past – if you find yourself overthinking about things that have happened in the past, learn to accept these as things that are now outside your control, and redirect your energy towards moving forward.

It is possible to train our mind to remain calm in any given situation. The few points mentioned above can go a long way in helping you manage overthinking when you find yourself doing so.

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