Overthinking means constantly dwelling on things that have already happened. This may mean repeating conversations or reviewing all possible answers on a quiz. Or, it might involve overthinking, second-guessing your decisions, and imagining worst-case scenarios. Excessive ruminations and constant worry or anxiety about the past also fall under the umbrella of overthinking. Overthinking is a psychological pattern that can turn into a chronic habit and ultimately harm our mental health.
What is automatic negative thinking?
When we think excessively, our minds often go in a pessimistic direction.
Automatic negative thinking refers to involuntary thinking of negative thoughts. Think of it as a reflex, like a knee jerk or dizziness. These reactions to everyday situations are often irrational and self-sabotaging.
What are the consequences of overthinking?
If not addressed, overthinking contributes to depression and anxiety disorders. It increases stress levels. Also, overthinking can interfere with one's self-esteem and problem-solving abilities.
How to stop overthinking?
1. Do Breathing Exercises
Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Deep breaths activate your parasympathetic nervous system, giving your brain more oxygen. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for helping us “rest and digest”.
It's the opposite of our sympathetic nervous system that triggers our "fight or flight" response. In other words, it calms us down, reduces fearful and anxious thoughts, and clears our minds.
2. Find Something to Distract You
Distractions help us forget what's bothering us. A temporary distraction is usually exactly what we need to recharge. Easy distractions include:
-Watching a movie
-To do sport
It can be difficult to get started at first, but set a time limit for yourself. For example, try reading for half an hour. Within minutes, you can find yourself in another world.
3. See the Big Picture
It's hard to see how far you've come when you are now. That's when it might be helpful to take a step back. Remember, in a year or five years, no one will remember how you did in a bad presentation. Write down your feelings and how you reacted. Being self-aware is crucial to better understanding yourself and making a positive change.
4. Start Keeping a Journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on your attitudes and progress. It also forces you to take some time off to relax from your busy daily schedule. Journaling gives you the space and freedom to express yourself without judgment.
5. Live in the Present
Take control of your thoughts. You do this not by fighting them, but by accepting them and letting them go. Instead of worrying about the past, focus on enjoying the present. The more you actively train your brain to think differently and catch yourself getting obsessed, the more automatic it becomes. Learning to think and talk positively about yourself can also prevent you from getting stuck in the past.
6. Ask for Help
If you feel like it's getting out of control, don't hesitate to contact a mental health professional. A good therapist can guide you through dark times and teach you to reframe your thoughts. If you're having a hard time stopping to think too much about someone or a relationship, you need to work with a professional. Tapyy Online Therapy may be exactly what you need to break the habit of overthinking and find your full potential.