Raise your hands if you are, or know at least a handful of people, stuck in their heads! Overthinking is one of the biggest modern-age issues a lot of us seem to be dealing with. With so much going around, uncertainties, challenges, and obstacles we can’t help but overthink. Overthinking varies from one person to another. Some people would overthink matters every once in a while when a stressful matter comes up. Others suffer from chronic overthinking which has become a way of living for them. Overthinking is not something that we do intentionally while we are fully aware of it, it is an automatic reaction to several factors acting like a self-protection mechanism.
First things first, what are the causes of overthinking?
• Constant stress
• Past traumatic experiences
• Life’s high demands and pressures
Some people can be caught in the vicious cycle of overthinking without even knowing it because they have become so accustomed to it. So how do you know that you overthink?
• Ruminating the past
• Constantly worrying about the future
• Overanalyzing everything.
• Always concerned about what others are thinking of you.
Overthinking is one of the most harmful habits that affect us negatively in different ways such as:
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Panic disorder
• Social anxiety
How can you stop yourself from overthinking?
1. Identify your destructive thought patterns. Notice it the next time you are stuck in your head. Identifying the habit or the behavior is the first step to changing it. The next time you catch yourself playing scenarios in your head like ‘What if….?’, ‘I should have…’, ‘What will I do when…?’ and other similar scenarios where worry or rumination kick in, stop yourself by distraction. Go watch something, read a bit, or talk to a friend. You need any activity to break that cycle for you.
2. Challenge your thoughts. Our brain tends to exaggerate scenarios out of fear or when we are stressed. You possibly think of all the worst case scenarios as a way of making yourself prepared. But you need to remind yourself that it always doesn’t have to be that bad. Remind yourself that not every thought is a certain fact that will have to happen.
3. Draw the line between what you have and don’t have control over. Some things are simply out of our control. No matter how much we think about them we can’t control them. For instance, we have no control over the future, we can’t predict what is happening at the very next minute. Do not live in worry of what yet may or may not happen.
4. Repeat positive affirmations. One of the reasons why we overthink is doubting our own abilities to solve certain problems or that we will stand helpless in face of obstacles. Remind yourself of times you managed to overcome hardships. Repeat positive affirmations that can give you a boost of confidence and write them down as a reminder to yourself.
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