How often has it happened to you that a sudden attack of random thoughts paralyzes you and makes you anxious?
And just how much time have you spent thinking about the worst possible scenarios for every situation you find yourself in.
It’s clear that you have a problem with overthinking, which can greatly impact the quality of your life.
How is overthinking ruining your life? All these thoughts do not allow your mind to rest, which leads to stress, insomnia, and many other disorders. Also, overthinking limits you and doesn’t allow you to live your life to the fullest.
Because of all this, instead of controlling your thoughts, you feel like a prisoner of your thoughts.
Overthinking should not be ignored.
This article will explain that concept better and give you some guidelines on regaining power over your thoughts.
How Does Your Overthinking Manifest Itself?
According to a 2020 study, the average person has about 6,000 thoughts daily. Wow, that is a lot of thoughts.
Many of those thoughts are random, like what you will have for lunch and similar.
An overthinker may have significantly more thoughts than that, but they are not good.
Those thoughts are not even random. These thoughts limit you, scare you and force you into a vicious cycle of overthinking.
What overthinking actually looks like:
1. Overthinking Things That Didn’t Happen
“Overthinking: the art of creating new problems out of ones that never existed in the first place.”
Most often, overthinking is manifested by imagining scenarios that did not happen.
And these can be some random scenarios, but in some cases, the worst possible outcomes.
Here are some examples:
You are starting a new job soon, have yet to start working, and already see your dismissal.
Your mind already sees that you are not good enough for that job, that everyone is better than you, and that it will turn out that you are not qualified enough for that job.
Another example is that you don’t want to approach a cute girl at a bar because you’ve already run through all the possible scenarios about why she’ll turn you down.
These are some general examples, but overthinking can be related to absolutely everything.
And what is common to all examples is that you always see a bad scenario, and you don’t even want to assume that things will actually turn out well.
2. Overthinking About Things That Have Already Happened
Just as we can constantly think about the future, our brain often makes us go back to the past.
We usually go back to those situations in the past where we think we didn’t do well and made a mistake.
So if you are not satisfied with your job today, you consider it a mistake that you were educated for that job and spent all those years studying.
The same is true of former relationships.
It annoys you that you still think about that person who hurt you every night before you fall asleep.
You think about what would have happened if you had acted differently and chosen different words. Would you still be together then?
All your mistakes from the past haunt you and do not give you peace in the present.
If you have a problem with overthinking, you will constantly think about how you embarrassed yourself in the past.
There is also one opposite, which is when you think everything in the past was perfect.
You idealize the past, and your mind thinks about it all the time because it makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Who needs the future when you can wallow in the past, right?
3. Your Mind Keeps Thinking of Things You Don’t Want to
Have you ever heard of the term intrusive thoughts?
These thoughts come out of nowhere and are often very unpleasant.
Their content can often be something you would never do, which concerns violence, aggression, blasphemy, and similar unpleasant topics.
An example is when you are sitting and waiting for the train, you think of how it would be to push someone off the platform.
Or when you are in a class, you feel like getting up, shouting, and cursing without any reason.
Everyone gets these kinds of thoughts from time to time, resulting from stress and poor mental health.
When you get a rush of these thoughts, you probably wonder if you’re normal at all.
How is Overthinking Ruining Your Life?
Your day-to-day life is seriously compromised if overthinking is a reason to blame.
We must emphasize that overthinking is not when you make reasonable plans about something.
Let’s say you’re planning how you’re going to study this week or making a travel plan.
That’s normal, and it’s productive thinking.
What is not normal is when you think about things you cannot influence so much that you are stressed because of them.
Here are the consequences of overthinking:
Degraded Mental Health
It is important to emphasize that overthinking is not a mental illness.
But overthinking is a shortcut to various mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, OCD, etc.
These mental states can be a consequence of overthinking, but overthinking can also occur because of them.
Impaired Physical Health
It is well known that mental and physical health are connected.
All that accumulated stress can take a physical toll on you.
Stress is associated with inflammatory processes in the body.
That can lead to nausea, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, etc…
Loss of Concentration and Focus
How can you be focused on something when your brain is thinking about a totally different unrelated thing.
Due to the lack of focus, it may be difficult for you to work or study.
If you have bad sleeping habits, which usually accompany overthinking, you will hardly be able to function normally during the day.
Lack of Motivation
Motivation drives us to achieve our goals but overthinking is a motivation killer.
Overthinking feeds on our fears.
These fears tell us that we are not good enough for something or that terrible things will happen.
Such fears are highly limiting. For example, you have a driver’s license but don’t drive because you’re afraid you’ll crash.
It’s hard to stay enthusiastic, positive, and consistent when you already see the worst possible scenarios in your mind before even starting something.
Here’s what it might look like all together:
Your mind falls into the trap of thinking about scenarios that have not happened or already happened and cannot be changed.
Because of these thoughts, you stay awake longer than usual because the racing mind does not give you peace and creates stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
The next day, you are sleep deprived, and it is difficult for you to perform daily tasks because you got up tired.
In such a state, you will certainly not reach for healthy food, but you will crave some unhealthy carbs, probably fast food and sweets.
You may underperform at work and skip your daily workout.
Because of all this, you will only fall into overthinking how you ruined your day, and that cycle goes over and over again.
Are you familiar with this situation?
How to Keep Myself Busy and Avoid Overthinking? 5 Major Tips
Deciding that you need to make your mind busy is the right step toward solving overthinking.
These tips will help you with that:
1. Awareness and Self-Acceptance
You can’t ignore that problem because you won’t solve it that way.
Acknowledge that you’re overthinking.
Also, accept that fact because it is the first step towards making a change.
You can write a thoughts journal, giving you control over your thoughts.
We’re not telling you to write a book, but know that some of the greatest masterpieces of literature were created by writers who kept journals.
2. Meditation and Breathing Exercises
The point of meditation is to declutter your mind and free it from unnecessary thoughts.
When you clean a room, you get rid of all the mess and suddenly feel better.
In the same way, you clean the mental mess from your brain with meditation.
Meditation is a workout for the mind.
There are also breathing exercises, which can help you focus on one thing, breathing, to get at peace with yourself.
Even if it seems complicated at first, and your restless mind still finds a way to wander, don’t give up, be persistent, and in time you will see a change.
3. Structure Your Life
Sometimes overthinking can come from boredom and chaotic life, so keep your life organized.
Create a routine when you get up, work, eat and sleep.
Don’t forget your hobbies and things you enjoy because they will help you keep your mind engaged and distracted from overthinking.
Don’t overdo it, and beat yourself up if you accidentally fall out of that routine.
Remember, you own your schedule, not your schedule owns you.
You don’t want to become obsessive-compulsive, which means overthinking about scheduling your time and everything and stressing out when you fall off that schedule.
4. Works on Developing Self-Confidence
Overthinking very often comes from a lack of self-confidence.
Because when you don’t believe in yourself, you will think about things you can do wrong.
If you think it is necessary to change something about you and that you need to improve in some areas, then do it.
That way, you will be more confident, and those thoughts that limited you before will not bother you anymore.
And remember, keep your focus on yourself and not on other people.
5. Practice Healthy Habits
“Eat, sleep, workout – repeat.”
Of course, we must mention the importance of healthy habits.
So, instead of eating food that will make you overthink how it’s not good for your body, find healthy alternatives.
Also, any physical workout can help you get those unnecessary thoughts out of your head.
At the end of the day, reward yourself with quality, refreshing sleep.
Most Importantly – You Can Control Your Thoughts
Yes, you are the master of your thoughts, and you can shape them and keep them in control.
Overthinking is a virus; you solve it by changing and upgrading your mind’s operating system.
Implement these tips and train your mind to defend itself from overthinking or to turn it into something positive.