Health

Overthinking and its impact on your mental health, Know from an expert

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Overthinking may be harmless, but it can have a debilitating impact on your mental and physical health. Here’s how you can deal with it.

Have you ever noticed yourself thinking way too much and not doing anything? Do you often find yourself lingering upon a particular topic? Are you constantly worrying, with your mind is racing all the time? This is what we call a pattern of overthinking, which does nothing else but destroys us and our mental peace.

Most of us pay attention to certain things from time to time, but some of us involve ourselves in a loop of thoughts that keeps us busy but in a negative manner. This vicious cycle keeps on repeating itself and invading healthy patterns. Overcoming overthinking is a task which is not mastered by many, but needs to be practiced at the earliest to break the negative cycle.

overthinking and mental health
Overthinking can create problems even when there aren’t any. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The issues of overthinking extend to all spheres of life. The time that must be spent in thinking about anything productive and mindful is often used in self-limiting and not self-reflecting, self-awareness, and growth.

This has an adverse impact not only on mental health but on emotional and physical health as well. The regular patterns of overthinking may lead to anxiety, irritability, panic attacks as well as low appetite, irregular sleep patterns, high blood pressure, and much more. Emotions play a significant role when it comes to keeping oneself sane.

The focus should be to trick the brain to stop worrying and overthinking.

Let us understand a few signs and symptoms an individual experiences while overthinking:

Signs and symptoms of overthinking:

  1. Difficulty in taking decisions
  2. Emotional absenteeism
  3. Sleeplessness
  4. Aggression
  5. Resentment
  6. Difficulty in understanding other perspectives
  7. Loneliness
  8. Stress
  9. Repetitive thoughts
  10. Difficulty in concentrating

How does overthinking affect your mental health

  • It promotes and exacerbates different forms of mental illnesses like stress, anxiety, and depression;
  • It affects problem-solving and decision-making;
  • Disrupts daily routine activities. Chronic overthinking will take up much of your day and at the end you’ll have little productivity to show;
  • It Interferes in interpersonal relationships. By breeding doubts, it tends to promote misunderstandings, wrong choices, denials, and escapism;
  • It impacts sleep and appetite, thereby, throwing your internal system in a pit of chaos;
  • Overthinking leads to exhausting the brain cells, thus making them incapable of generating creative insights;
  • It decreases self-confidence and fosters self-doubt. Increased tendency to overthink leads to increased self-doubt which again reinforces the overthinking cognitive style.
overthinking and mental health
Don’t let overthinking sabotage your relationships. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how you can deal with overthinking:

1. Understand your thinking pattern

Sometimes when we are in a situation, we find it difficult to end our repetitive thoughts. It is vital that when we are stuck, try and come out of the situation, and understand it better.

2. Finding a distraction for self

For most people coming out of the web of overthinking, the task can be quite difficult. For this purpose, you can resort to distraction by getting engaged in activities that are of your interest, as it helps to break the web of overthinking. You can do this by either going out; or listening to music; or talking to a friend.

3. Deep breathing

Overthinking has a huge impact on the physical and emotional health of an individual. Deep breathing would help you in turning over your thoughts, and make you feel relaxed in the given situation.

4. Say no to perfectionism

Some people have a constant need of doing everything perfectly. But perfectionism leads to overthinking, and creates a vicious cycle of self-blame and low self-esteem.

5. Understand your triggers

Everyone has their respective triggers in situations, which leads to overthinking. One way to reduce the patterns of overthinking is to understand the triggers of overthinking, and try to reduce the same by modifying the environment.

7. Journaling

To help yourself with concerns that are bothering you, one needs to journal and pen down their thoughts and their feelings to get to the root of the issue and gain newer perspectives.

overthinking and mental health
Journaling and planning can alter your life. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Everything happens for a reason

There is an old saying which says, “Everything that happens, happens for good”. Sometimes when things don’t happen the way we desire them to be, we tend to get upset and indulge in overthinking. Hence when things don’t go your way, think that it is happening for your good and benefit.

9. Seek professional help

If you are unable to control your overthinking and it interferes with your daily functioning, seek a professional to help you out.

10. Understand your status of control:

Sometimes one is not able to understand that not everything is in our control, and we tend to overthink even then. Hence, it is essential that one tries to understand their locus of control and gain an insight into the things which they can and cannot control.

The last word

Henceforth, I would like to conclude by saying that people who overthink continuously try to evaluate their actions, fearing that they might have said something wrong. The anxiety that ensues holds them back from moving ahead in life in a peaceful manner. Once identified, it becomes particularly important to take care of them, lest they overpower our abilities to have a balanced life.

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