With thoughts flitting in and out of our minds all day long, we can sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity. At other times, we connect to a specific thought or subject, and it can mill about our brains for an extended period of time, changing and growing. This can often lead to overthinking, creating a vicious cycle that contributes to the challenges of managing negative thoughts and destructive thought patterns.
Dealing with our thoughts can be tricky, and sometimes they cause us to feel anxious and stressed, impacting our mental health. Overthinking any subject, be it positive or negative, is not ideal. So in this post, Select Psychology looks into what overthinking is, its symptoms, and how to stop overthinking in certain situations.
If you find yourself caught in this mental loop of overthinking and negative thoughts, it’s essential to consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional, such as a clinical psychologist. They specialise in addressing mental health conditions and can provide valuable insights to break the cycle of overthinking.
What Is Overthinking?
The term used here quite perfectly describes the experience – overthinking is when you think too much about a certain subject or thought. Overthinking often involves worrying or dwelling on one thought and worrying about the past and future, which can exacerbate symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder.
Overthinking can cause people to be incapacitated by their worries, making it difficult to make decisions or take action to better the situation. This may lead to a negative feedback loop, further intensifying depression and anxiety or simply frustrating the overthinker.
Symptoms Of Overthinking
If you are not sure whether you are overthinking or simply thinking a lot, consider if the following overthinking signs are applicable to you.
Keep in mind that our minds are complex, and if you relate to one or even a few of them, this does not mean that you are prone to overthinking. It simply means that you’re human. However, if quite a few of them ring true for you, you are likely overthinking.
- Replaying your perceived mistakes over in your mind
- Reliving embarrassing past situations and experiences
- Asking yourself a lot of “what if” questions when nothing can be done about it
- Spending a lot of time thinking about the “hidden meaning” in what others say
- Second-guessing your decisions or not making decisions at all
- Rehashing conversations and wishing you could change them now
- Worrying about or fixating on things you have no control over
- Running through your perceived personal faults while trying to fall asleep
- Projecting your worries onto an unchangeable past or unknown future
- Imagining the worst-case scenario or result
How To Stop Overthinking Relationships
Overthinking a relationship can cause you to jump to conclusions and feel insecure about your partner. This can have a number of negative effects on your relationship and your own mental health. Here are some tips to help you stop overthinking your relationship:
- Remind yourself of the truths that you know about your relationship and your partner
- Don’t dwell on your texts, and stop rereading theirs
- Try not to overanalyse their body language
- Acknowledge your vulnerability with yourself and your partner
- Focus on your personal development
- Base your thoughts on evidence
How To Stop Overthinking At Night
When you’re in your bed and the lights are out, negative thoughts can creep in and stick around well past your bedtime. Overthinking at night makes it difficult to sleep and causes restlessness, amplifying the effects of stress and anxiety. When the world is dark, and you don’t have external stimuli, it can be very difficult to shut off these thoughts. Here are a few strategies to combat overthinking at night:
- Try to go through your thoughts and worries at another time and place
- Write down the things that are bothering you before bed
- Think about a story or something unimportant
- Accept your thoughts
- Listen to quiet, calming music or natural sounds
Need Help With Your Thoughts?
If you are struggling with dark thoughts, anxiety, or depression, you may benefit from therapy, which would enable you to get to the source of these feelings. Feel free to get in touch with us if you want to know more about the type of therapy that would best suit your individual needs. Remember, taking proactive steps and seeking professional support can make a significant difference in managing mental health conditions and breaking the cycle of overthinking.