At a glance
- Overthinking has a way of eating away our peace of mind, focus and sense of well-being.
- The key to releasing this behaviour is by understanding that we cannot control outcomes, situations and people beyond a certain point.
- By focusing on our actions and engaging in our priorities, we can choose to step out of our thinking mind and ruminate less over past events or future worries.
Do you ever find yourself lying in bed at night, unable to sleep because your mind won’t stop racing? Or maybe you replay conversations, wondering if you said the right thing. If so, you are overthinking and most likely exhausting yourself in the process. As a life coach based in Australia, I’ve helped many clients overcome the tendency to overthink, and I’d like to share some insights on what causes it and some effective techniques to break the habit.
What exactly is overthinking?
Overthinking happens when we resort to analyzing and pondering on past or future events or scenarios beyond what is necessary. It occurs when your mind is stuck in a loop of negative or useless thoughts. You may find yourself worrying about matters over which you have little control or replaying past mistakes, causing regret and shame. In the long run, overthinking leads to anxiety, stress, and even depression. Overthinking can also lead to physical symptoms like migraines, muscular pain, and fatigue.
But how do you know if you’re overthinking? Here are some common symptoms-
- You constantly worry about the future or dwell on the past.
- You have trouble making decisions, or you second-guess every decision you make.
- You feel anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed.
- You struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep because your mind won’t quiet down.
- You experience physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, or stomach aches.
Don’t worry if any of these seem familiar; you’re not alone. Overthinking is a common issue, but the good news is that it can be overcome with the right mindset and proper guidance.
So, what causes overthinking?
A variety of factors can lead to this, including personality traits such as perfectionism and stress disorders. It can also be caused by stressful situations such as work or relationship issues. Overthinking is sometimes an indication of underlying mental health concerns like depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Another reason can be a lack of confidence. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of overthinking and self-doubt when you don’t trust yourself or feel insecure about certain aspects of your life.
Factors like stress, trauma, or a major life change can also contribute to overthinking. When dealing with a challenging situation in life, it’s natural to exercise as much control as possible. But sometimes, this can lead to overthinking and compulsive worrying.
The effects of overthinking include:
When you are constantly stuck in your head, it can harm both your mental and physical health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns can result from overthinking.
Overthinking can be physically and mentally exhausting. It can lead to decreased productivity and creativity, as well as decision-making issues. Overthinking can also influence your relationships, as it is difficult to be active and engaged with others when your mind is somewhere else.
Overthinking can lead to analysis paralysis when you become so consumed in the decision-making process that you struggle to choose at all. This can stop you from succeeding in your life, leading to feelings of frustration and inadequacy.
Solutions to break the habit of overthinking:
Fortunately, there are many techniques for breaking the habit of overthinking. Let’s discuss some of them:
The first step is to realize when you’re overthinking and bring it into your conscious awareness. How can you tell if you’re overthinking? If you find yourself stressing or obsessing over something, or if your mind is racing and you can’t focus, you’re probably overthinking.
Once you identify this, try to bring your attention to the present moment. You can do it through mindfulness techniques like controlled and deep breathing or meditation. These methods can help you become more aware of your thoughts and break the cycle of rumination.
Meditation is an effective approach as it declutters your mind. This means paying attention to the present moment and accepting your thoughts without judgment. When you practice meditation, you train your brain to let go of distractions and focus on what is happening right now. This can help you break the cycle of overthinking and improve your mental focus and emotional well-being.
Another method is cognitive reframing, which involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns. Overthinking is often your mind’s attempt to control a situation— a narrative that you have little control over in your physical reality. E.g.: If you are replaying a conflict in your head and ruminating over everything you should have or could have said to win the argument, you are trying to fix something that has already happened in the past.
When you feel yourself overthinking or engaging in negative self-talk, pause and ask yourself if these thoughts are true. Thoughts are not truths, especially when you are angry or experiencing other strong emotions. Are you rushing to conclusions or assuming the worst-case scenario? You can break the pattern of overthinking and boost your mood by confronting these notions and replacing them with more empowering and realistic internal dialogue.
Sometimes you need to step out of your thinking mind and step into your feeling body, quite literally. Exercise is a great way to tune into your body and give it some much-needed pump. As you engage in physical activity or sports, your brain releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Physical activity or exercise also helps in releasing stress and anxiety, both of which can lead you to overthink.
Getting quality sleep and self-care
It is critical to practice self-care and relaxation. When you’re anxious and busy, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of overthinking. So, ensure that you get enough rest each night, and try creating a calming bedtime routine.
Eating well is another important element of self-care. Make sure you fuel your body with healthy foods that provide you with the energy you need to go through the day.
Indulge in nourishing activities you enjoy
Finally, it is important to dedicate time to activities that you enjoy. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or practising a creative hobby, taking time for yourself can help you recharge and feel more balanced overall. It’s worth mentioning that although you may enjoy Netflix and chilling it doesn’t really help your mind get the downtime it needs. Instead, schedule time for good relaxation that includes less brainpower and more presence.
How a life coach can help with overthinking
If you’re having trouble breaking the habit of overthinking on your own, consulting a life coach could be beneficial. Life coaches are trained to assist people in overcoming limiting beliefs, negative thought habits, and other obstacles to reaching their goals.
Working with a life coach in Melbourne can help you acquire new insights into your patterns of thinking and behaviour, develop stress and anxiety management skills, and discover greater peace and fulfilment in your life.
A good life coach can help you identify the root cause of your overthinking, provide a clear strategy for breaking the habit, give continuous support, and provide accountability to keep you on track.
Overthinking can be a major obstacle to living an enjoyable and fulfilling life. You can break the cycle of overthinking and find more peace of mind by identifying the causes, meditating, challenging your thoughts, and seeking help from a life coach.
It takes time and effort to overcome the habit of overthinking, but with patience and dedication, you can learn to calm your mind and live in the present moment. So take a deep breath, let go of your worries, and have faith in your abilities to stop the cycle of overthinking. You got this!
If working with a life coach is something you’d like to consider, feel free to book a free discovery session with me, and together we can explore the best way for you to manage your overthinking.