When we cannot get out of our head and the gibberish is so loud that we become anxious we know something is wrong. When this happens, the explanation is likely to be overthinking.
Overthinking means on one hand ruminating, replaying past events in our head over and over again. On the other hand, there is excessive worrying about the future, where all the catastrophes of the world will certainly happen to us.
Why do we do it?
This chaotic monologue in our head is a form of sterile intellectualization that keeps us from actually dealing with the problem at hand. We try to deny the uncomfortable feelings we have. Instead, we fall back on cold and distant abstract terms.
This kind of thinking may seem to be a way to solve problems, but in reality our mind is just playing games. We raise irrelevant or trivial counterarguments, we challenge sound assumptions, we cling to bad examples. We conjure not only words, but also images that all lead to a horror movie.
What are the consequences of overthinking?
This pseudo-analysis overwhelms us, we panic and not actually solve anything. Moreover, this pattern can lead to serious mental issues. We get stuck in a vicious circle: we mull over things until we break and after we are broken we try to fix ourselves by mulling some more.
Another problem is that it interferes with our sleep. Because we cannot turn off our mind, we get less and less sleep and therefore be more tired and less productive.
Here’s how you can overcome overthinking:
1. Acknowledge your overthinking when it happens.
Be aware of your endless worrying especially when it is about things you have no control over.
2. Don’t believe your negative thoughts
Things cannot be as bad as you tend to believe when you are in the whirl of overthinking.
3. Use your time and energy productively
Instead of revisiting over and over again a past situation and ask what you might have done differently, try to put your efforts into solving the present problem.
4. Incorporate mindfulness into your life
Mindfulness is the practice of being totally aware of the present moment. It takes time to actually work, but once you do it, it helps enormously with your anguish and ruminations.
5. Stay busy
If you force yourself not to overthink, you might make things worse. But if you are aware of your tendency and catch yourself slipping into this mode of thinking, you might just go for a walk, engage in a pleasant or productive activity that will take your mind of the worrying.
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