Overthinking is when we keep on ruminating on something, generally causing us to go round in loops in our own minds. This can make us:
- Miss out on opportunities – by remaining in our minds, we risk taking too long to finally make the necessary decisions, causing us to miss out on opportunities we may want.
- Stuck in a loop – overthinking causes us to keep going round and round on a topic or situation in our minds, generally speaking, after some time we will just be going round in loops, with no new or fresh content being inputted. For example, if you had a fight with a friend, and you’re debating whether or not you should apologise, after some time of thinking about your past relationship with this friend, as well as what happened to cause the fight, there’s no new content. This can make us feel like we’re stuck in a loop.
- Create friction with those around you – when we ruminate on things, we may end up causing arguments or issues with those around us, without even intending to. For example, if you’re annoyed that your partner doesn’t pick up their socks, constantly thinking about it will not help the relationship – especially if you finally tell your partner that it’s bothering you when you’re already angry about the situation.
- Anxious – ruminating, and overthinking, can make us constantly stuck in our heads, which stops us from living in the present moment. In turn, we may end up teaching ourselves that we should always question every little step or every little thing said to us. This, in turn, can make us anxious.
If you feel that you may be overthinking, either sometimes or all the time, remember to:
- Let yourself make mistakes …and look for opportunities for that. When you become used to making mistakes, and taking those mistakes into your stride, the fear of making mistakes will no longer affect you.
- Connect with your body – take time to do mindfulness techniques or grounding techniques, remember to become aware of your body and what it feels like to be sitting in that chair, or to stand on your feet. This can help with anxious feelings.
- identify when you’re overthinking and make an effort to connect with your body instead, or to connect with a friend, anything that can help distract you from those persistent thoughts.
- own your decisions – This may sound very hard, but remember to tell yourself “I made this decision, and I believe in this moment, it’s the right one for me”.
If this doesn’t help, consider speaking with a professional about your overthinking. Sometimes speaking things out with a non-judgemental professional can help put thoughts into perspective, and help us learn to stop ruminating and start acting.