Overthinking: To think too much about something or to put too much time into analysing something.
Overthinking is often harmful but amongst the tiring side effects there can be a plus side, so don’t lose hope. As someone who is prone to overthinking constantly, I have had many encounters with this challenging problem.
I tend to overthink many things, even down to the smallest detail or social queue. It’s extremely upsetting and exhausting, it drains you and makes you question yourself and every move you make. When I overthink, it feels like I’m drowning in doubts and fears and I’m falling, I can’t hear logic. My head spins as the thoughts overwhelm my mind.
Of course, when I overthink, it isn’t always this severe, sometimes it’s just worrying that I said the wrong thing and I get over it soon and realise that I’m just overthinking and that I’m fine.
There are times when I’m trying to do something (like when I’m in class) and I start to overthink an interaction I had earlier that day. It gets frustrating because I want to focus so badly on what I’m doing but my thoughts can get too loud.
I mainly overthink things I say to people (friends) because I always want to make people happy and seeing someone upset is the last thing I want. I worry whether I was rude, or if I said something wrong, or if they will hate me. I do read too much into things that other people have said even if there was no malicious intent behind it.
When I think about it now, some of things I have worried about are ridiculous and often didn’t make sense, but at the time it meant everything. Due to overthinking every little interaction I tend to apologise a lot which can come across insincere even though I mean every word of my apologies. It’s a vicious cycle.
Overanalysing isn’t just about worrying if you’ve said something wrong it’s also thinking too much about actions and consequences. I tend to think too much about something I did and exaggerate the consequences even though there might not be any consequences because I didn’t do anything wrong.
I remember one night I was sat on my couch and my thoughts were racing at what felt like 100mph and I tried to stop it, but I was too tired (that week I was very stressed) so I just stopped trying to. I tilted my head back and let my thoughts run wild. Arguing with myself was not what I wanted to deal with that day.
Eventually it stopped but it was very draining, I had let my worries and anxieties take over. I do often worry that I’m being over dramatic even though it is a serious feeling and topic.
The point of this article is to bring awareness to overthinking and how it is a common symptom of anxiety. There are many ways to help yourself if you are prone to overanalysing.
Three Ways You Can Help Yourself When It Comes To Overthinking
- Talking to someone- I know that it might sound cliché but trust me, hearing someone reaffirm what you’re trying to say to calm yourself down is quite reassuring. I myself, often second guess myself but hearing someone else confirming it can be helpful.
- Try distracting yourself- This is tricky, it’s only a temporary solution but it gets you out of the habit of overthinking. Even if it means doing multiple things at once like listening to the things around you and music whilst drawing.
- Start challenging the negative thoughts- It’s easier said than done but if you keep challenging your negative thoughts you will become more confident when it comes to shutting them down. Start by noticing them, when you notice yourself starting to panic try saying things like ‘I am okay, I am just overthinking. Everything will be okay, try to stay calm.’ If there is an actual problem, once you calm down you can start to think about what is going on more clearly.
Most importantly, take slow breaths! This regulates your heart rate and decreases the amount of adrenaline being released so your flight or fight system wont kick in. This will allow you to think things through.
I understand that I have mainly talked about the negative effects of overthinking but I always try to look on the brightside. Some positive effects that I have discovered is that it can make you incredibly detail orientated so sometimes you can spot things that others can’t. I’ve found that overthinking can be useful for analysing text for English essays, it makes you look closely at what you’re reading.
For more tips to help you with your overthinking check out this article from Healthline.
Decision making might be very painful for overthinkers (and the people around them) but it means that they take everything into consideration including other people’s feelings. Due to this process, they do their research and make an informed decision, as well as making very detailed plans.
As someone who overthinks I need to know every detail of a plan otherwise I get anxious and feel like I’m walking into something blind, it’s rather stressful.
Overall, it’s not easy being an overthinker but it does get better if you’ve got a good support network. It’s always helpful to have some tools to work through it but it’s not always bad, you can get some good life skills out of it. I used to think that the techniques were only short term and wouldn’t really help me in the future, but I was wrong.
I’ve found that the more I’ve been practising them the better I have gotten at dealing with overthinking. I hope you found this article helpful and will use some of the techniques that I have listed.