Do you sometimes find yourself constantly obsessing and worrying over things? Are your thoughts so persistent and unsettling that you feel like you’re losing your mind? Do you feel that this condition is affecting your quality of life?
If you answered yes to any of these, then you are probably trying hard to work out how to stop overthinking and start living your life.
Overthinking Disorder – What is it?
There is no such thing as overthinking disorder. There is however a variety of anxiety disorders that causes an individual to ruminate or overthink things. According to scientists, overthinking activates the same parts of the brain that lead to anxiety and fear.
Some of the mental illness diagnoses where an individual can’t stop their brain from overthinking are Trauma, Panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, Phobias, PTSD or basically just a symptom of some other illness.
What Causes Overthinking?
Overthinking is just a symptom of a mental disorder. For example, a person who has a social anxiety disorder might ruminate over when they are likely to find themselves in a socially awkward situation again. They constantly think about situations that could trigger their anxiety. This then becomes meta-anxiety: anxiety about being anxious.
Overthinking is sometimes a major part of the human condition. It happens to everyone and you don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to constantly ruminate over things. At one point or the other, we find ourselves overthinking things.
It may be something that happened in the past which is likely to have a future implication, like being too concerned with your last meeting with somebody, whether or not you did or said the right things, what impression the person had about you and whatnot.
You could also overthink things that are yet to happen, like how your meeting with someone important is likely to go or whether or not you’ll pass an important exam. It could be something more momentary like how you measure up to someone at work or “what-if” scenarios like what could happen in an array of circumstances.
Overthinking is simply the act of ruminating obsessively over something. The experience is different for everyone. However, those who do experience it will find that their inability to effectively control negative thoughts and emotions affects their quality of life. Socializing becomes difficult, hobbies become chores and they experience a decline in productivity.
Making or keeping friends is almost impossible because they are excessively concerned about what to say, how to act or what will happen in future. Most often, they don’t have control over their own minds or emotions and this affects their mental health in the long run. Overthinking can affect almost everything about a person’s life. It wears away at you and can create complex problems in your life.
Symptoms of Overthinking disorder
- You Can’t Sleep
During bed time, most over thinkers can’t turn off their minds and they begin to feel agitated by anxiety or doubt. You may even start having obsessive thoughts about sleeping.
- You Feel Excessively Tired
You constantly have a feeling of fatigue which arises out of the frequent loop of your obsessive thoughts. It may also be as a result of your inability to sleep.
- You Turn to Drugs or Alcohol
Psychologists say that most people who overthink turn to drugs or alcohol to put a temporary stop to their raging thoughts. This is because they don’t trust in their ability to regulate their emotions internally.
- You’re Preoccupied With Thoughts of Failure
Your perfectionist mind does not fail to stop thinking about how awful it would be to fail at anything. This fear of failure handicaps you even before it happens. Most times, your fear of failure is the cause of failure itself and it also hinders you from learning from your mistakes.
- You Don’t Trust Your Own Judgment
You doubt yourself on everything from what you’re saying to where you’re going and even what you’re wearing. You often times need the reassurance of other people to feel okay about your own decisions.
- You Obsess Over The Future
You think more about what could go wrong in the future instead of appreciating everything you have accomplished at the moment.
- You Get Anxiety Headaches
As a result of insomnia or stress, you begin to feel a painful tightness around your temples and you may even feel a sudden stiffness around your neck. These chronic anxiety headaches are a sign that you need to get some rest and stop overthinking things.
How to Stop Overthinking?
We all have at one point or the other in our lives heard someone tell us to “stop overthinking things!” But I know as much as you do that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Most often, it turns out to be a vicious cycle that ends up with you overthinking things more. Learning how to stop overthinking is a long process that requires you have to condition your brain to do. Here are six ways to overcoming obsessive rumination.
- Be Conscious of Your Thought Process and Anxiety Triggers
No two people experience overthinking the same way so it is important to be aware of your own unique triggers. It is important to ask questions about why it happens and when it occurs. You should also be attentive to your thought processes and notice when you’re thinking in a negative way. Each time you have obsessive thoughts, note down what you’re thinking and the form it takes.
It may be that you’re excessively going over a previous conversation with somebody and analyzing where you could have gone wrong. It may also be that you’re thinking about how a job interview is likely to go. Whichever the case, noting down your thought pattern will help you to preempt triggers before they cause a serious episode of overthinking.
- Adopt a Broader Perspective
Sometimes when your imagination is running riot and you can’t seem to tame your thoughts, you may need to ask yourself the question “Would this matter in a year or even in a few months or weeks?”
Most likely, what you’re worried about won’t matter in a month. So adopting a broader perspective will help you relax and reduce your anxiety.
- Take Periodical Breaks
If you find that your thoughts are taking the better part of you, then taking periodical breaks will most likely help put your mind at rest. You may want to schedule 30 minutes for meditation, 1 hour for reading or twenty minutes for a walk down the street. This will definitely help to reduce your anxiety level.
- Minimize Emotionally Overpowering Input
Setting limits on things that drain us emotionally is a very effective way to keep tension at bay. For examples, if one of your triggers is reading social media, it would do you a lot of good to set limit on your involvement with the task. You might decide to give yourself twenty minutes three times a day for this task and no more.
- Use Positive Affirmations
If you want to learn how to stop overthinking and would like to set yourself up for great days, then you need to start practicing positive affirmations. This would help you to get rid of positive thoughts. You can say to yourself “I have the power to change my life for good. I am not a slave to my thoughts.” Or “Today, I am trading off my obsessive thoughts and giving way to positivity”. There are no set rules for how and when this can be done but smiling and looking at a reflection of yourself while saying it will go a long way.
- Play Under the Covers
Having frequent sex is another effective way to distract your mind from overthinking. According to scientists, during sex, “feel good” hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins are released, countering stress and improving sleep. It helps you to deal with daily tensions and puts your mind at rest.
- Exercise Patience and Live in The Present
Living in the present moment will not only help you to get rid of overthinking and anxiety, it will also help you to cultivate a better life. The moment you break free from the shackles of obsessive thoughts, you find that you can breathe life and experience its excitement.
Always ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen?”. You will most certainly discover that it’s not as bad as your anxiety is telling you. You will also soon find out that living in the present will equip you with the resources to deal with the worst case scenario.
On a final note, it helps to admit that you cannot always control everything as opposed to what overthinking makes you believe. Wanting to control everything holds you back in life.
So isn’t it time to stop overthinking and get your life back together?