When we think of over-thinking, we usually think of being stuck in a cycle of rumination. We wonder what might be causing our feelings and whether or not the situation is fixable. Overthinking is a real issue. It can cause you cognitive dissonance, worry, and angst. It is important to understand the dangerous type of overthinking so you can get rid of it from your life.
Two Forms of Overthinking
1. Ruminating about the past
Ruminating is like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying an argument with a friend in your mind. It’s retracing past mistakes. When people ruminate, they over-think or obsess about situations or life events, such as work or relationships.
2. Worrying about the future.
When we think about the future, we might be imagining all sorts of different situations and outcomes. When we're trying to understand what is going to happen, we might end up worrying about things that haven't happened yet. You shouldn't try to read too much into the future. You shouldn't spend time thinking about it, but instead use that time to take action in the present.
Here are 10 signs that you're an overthinker:
You have trouble sleeping because it feels like your brain won't shut off.
You spend too much time thinking about the hidden meaning in things people say or events that happen.
You rehash conversations you had with people in your mind and think about all the things you wished you had or hadn't said.
You constantly relive your mistakes.
You spend a lot of time worrying about things you have no control over.
You can't get your mind off your worries.
Sometimes you are not aware of what's going on around you because you are dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen in the future.
When someone says or acts in a way you don't like, you keep replaying it in your mind.
You relive embarrassing moments in your head repeatedly.
You ask yourself a lot of "what if..." questions.
How to Deal With Overthinking
If you recognize that you waste a lot of time in extraneous worry, don't despair. You can take steps to reclaim your time, energy, and brainpower. There are many ways to stop the annoyance and destruction of overthinking.
Catch yourself in the act
If you find yourself overthinking situations, your first step is to recognize it and bring yourself back to reality. At that point, most of the time, you can convince yourself that you were thinking irrationally and bring back your emotional equilibrium. You can achieve this by taking a deep breath in for five seconds, followed by exhaling for five seconds. You will achieve reality after determining what is real and what is imagined.
Learn your personal warning signs
The first step for those who want to stop overthinking is to identify their behaviors in the past when they overthought an issue or argument. Some people can get hysterical, others get angry or even just confused because they overthink. It's easy to forget how much stress can negatively impact your mental well-being. But if you're able to recognize the signs of overthinking, you can avoid spiraling and save yourself from extra stress and strain in your everyday life.
It is very hard to think about the present, but it's even harder for some people to think about the now. By thinking ahead only when absolutely necessary, you can keep from imagining stressful hypotheticals and unneededly questioning the future. Worrying has a place, but there are times when it is best to put aside your worries and focus on the present.
Always take the time to relax
It's important to take a lot of time off to relax and unwind. If you find time to relax, you won't have any time to obsess over things if something bad happens. It’s also helpful to visit a counselor to talk about things that may be consciously or subconsciously stressing you out.