Overthink; /əʊvəˈθɪŋk/ Verb; to spend more time thinking about something than is necessary or productive. (Collins English Dictionary).
It’s an ugly word that can mean a lot of different things. In its simplest form, overthinking is problem-solving gone awry. This may involve what psychologists call ‘rumination’. “Ruminating is simply repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion. When people are depressed, the themes of rumination are typically about being inadequate or worthless.” (more).
This can sometimes happen after a serious workplace accident. Questions such as “What should we have done?” can lead one almost anywhere, and can result in ‘analysis paralysis’ (more). Creating and implementing a coherent risk management plan is an invaluable tool at such times that can help prepare your workplace and prevent serious accidents from occurring in the first place.
Useful tips to manage overthinking:
Of course, overthinking can become an issue in itself. It can deteriorate your mental health and lead to stress, anxiety and loss of sleep. Furthermore, there are times when habitual overthinking may be indicative of a deeper issue, such as generalised anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (more).
Do you overthink things? Rather than framing this as a personal failing (after all, no one blamed Einstein for it!), we suggest you look for ways to simplify and share the load.
Here are some ways to help you manage overthinking:
- Practice awareness – any time you feel like you are doubting yourself, take a step back, look at the situation and acknowledge how you are responding.
- Focus on the positives – don’t focus on what can go wrong, but instead look at what can go right!
- Put things into perspective – ask yourself, is what you’re overthinking about 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 what you can’t control. Dedicate your time and effort into thoughts that can help improve the situation and keep you productive.
With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, it is an opportunity to focus on taking care of ourselves, as well as creating a workplace that supports and helps uplift everyone’s mental wellbeing. Visit the MHAW website to learn more!