Overthinking is more often than not perceived negatively, but overthinking can be a positive thing. Not when it leads to anxiety of course, that’s terrible. Overthinking, when it’s actually analysing, can mean you’re prepared for whatever the world has to throw at you because you’ve had time to think it through, to analyse every potential outcome and what you will do if said event occurs.
However, the reason overthinking is thought of in a less than favorable light most of the time, is because overthinking stops us from living in the present moment.
The idea behind mindfulness is not a new one. It has been around for millennia. The basic premise of mindfulness is to allow you to live in the moment, to not be distracted by the million and one things that are seemingly more pressing, that are trying to get you to live in the past or worry about the future.
Mindfulness teaches you to enjoy the here and now.
When we overthink, we get caught up in our heads, and then we can get bogged down in the weeds.
By overthinking we end up losing ourselves in a different reality, becoming trapped in a world of what ifs, should haves, would haves or could haves. And if we stay there it leads to anxiety, fretting, depression, dread and worry.
The only way to escape the suffering is to let go, and that is easier said than done.
Replaying past events or planning all eventualities for the future is exhausting, time consuming and destructive.
Why overthinking is unhealthy
Numerous studies have shown:
● Overthinking can lead to mental health problems.
● Overthinking inhibits your actual capability of problem-solving.
● It stops you sleeping (which leads back to the first point).
How to stop overthinking
You don’t have to be an overthinker forever, there are steps you can take to free your mind and take back control.
1. Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice when you get stuck in your head, over-analysing. Acknowledge that what you’re doing isn’t helpful.
2. Focus on actually solving the problem. Rather than looking at the problem from all angles, and worrying about it, try to find a solution to work past it. If you have no control over the situation, focus on the things you can control, like your behavior.
3. When your thoughts are negative, try and remember that the worst-case scenario is not going to happen, that your emotions are governing your thoughts and leading you down this path. Try and look at the situation rationally – you won’t lose your job because you take a sick day.
4. Try mindfulness. Download an app, find a class, read a book, watch an online tutorial or ask a friend to help you with it. It takes time to learn the skill of living in the here and now, but once you’ve mastered the art, even if you practice for just five minutes a day, you will reap the rewards and hopefully find yourself overthinking less.
5. Seek professional help. Consider using cognitive behavioral therapy https://www.wendydignan.co.uk/why-cbt/ to help you stop overthinking and show you how to break down your thought processes and teach yourself to think differently https://www.wendydignan.co.uk
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Retired ex-professional football who played for Bury, Wigan, Stoke, Preston, Norwich, Leicester and Brighton during a 14 year career. After leaving professional football, Jason battled depression and recovered with the help of therapy and family support.