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Life comes with ups and downs, but overthinkers will worry even during the happiest times. The slightest unexpected part of your day or something you don’t immediately have an answer for could cause your thoughts to spiral. Instead of dwelling on the panic, read about the dangers of overthinking and find out what you can do about it. You might think your thoughts control you, but you can make every day more enjoyable with a new perspective.
What Is Overthinking?
Overthinking might look a little different for every person. The basic definition explains overthinking as thinking about something too much. Debating your choices for dinner for a few minutes may make you frustrated but have little lasting effect on your anxiety or stress.
Your version of overthinking might look like researching every potential detail of different vacations for weeks on end, because the fear of wasting your money on an experience that doesn’t turn out to be larger than life keeps your mind racing. Maybe you always pack more outfits than necessary for a weekend trip to visit family or leave emergency plans for any possible situation when your capable babysitter arrives to take care of the kids for a few hours.
There’s a fine line between thinking things through and going to the extremes with worry. The difference is how the two states of mind affect your wellbeing.
What Are the Dangers of Overthinking?
Overthinking is a form of fear or panic. Staying in that mindset could result in the following dangers that could threaten your health.
Increased Chronic Anxiety
Anxiety gives people the biological advantage to survive because it engages your fight or flight response. It’s only supposed to last for a short period. If you live in a state of panic that results in overthinking minor things, you could damage your central nervous system and experience problems with your immune system and heart due to stress hormones.
Consider when you begin to overthink and what holds your focus while it’s happening. You might overthink your travel needs because travel anxiety makes any bad situation seem possible. Once you identify the source of your worry as your upcoming trip, you can use helpful tips like eating a healthier diet or getting more sleep to reduce its physical effects.
Nightly Episodes of Insomnia
Overthinking can also keep you up at night. If you struggle to turn your mind off and sleep peacefully, insomnia could be your primary health concern. Your body needs a whole night’s sleep to recharge and rest your biological processes. Allowing overthinking to continue makes more room for your thoughts to harm your health.
Intensified Depression Symptoms
Anxiety and depression often work hand in hand. The worrying causes overthinking, which leaves you feeling powerless. Powerlessness feeds depressive episodes and symptoms. If you experience symptoms like constant fatigue, a lack of appetite or intense mood swings, it’s likely due to how often you dwell on spiraling thoughts.
Tips to Stop Overthinking
Although your thoughts may feel all-powerful, you can take back control of your mental health. Check out a few simple ways to get started today.
Start a Daily Journal
The most common challenge with defeating overwhelming thoughts is stepping back while they occur. They can feel like an all-consuming whirlwind when you’re in the midst of an episode. Writing in a daily journal helps with that because you’ll get in the habit of recognizing the most common trigger subjects or thought patterns.
Grab your journal and make an entry whenever your thoughts begin to churn. Write about each day during the evenings to understand what happened and why it affected your thoughts. You can also fill the journal with positive affirmations to turn each reflective entry into a source of encouragement.
With a few days or weeks of reviewing your experiences and giving yourself a helping hand, you’ll recognize thought patterns and identify them before they consume you.
Practice Deep Breathing
Anxiety makes your mind and heart race, so slow things down with breathing exercises designed to ease your heart rate to a slower pace. You’ll press the mental breaks on your overthinking and get more oxygen to your mind. It’s easier to think clearly and purposefully when your mind isn’t spinning out of control.
Challenge Your Thinking
Your overthinking might occur because planning for any possible situation makes you feel safer. When your brain makes you imagine every worst-case scenario, challenge those negative thoughts by asking yourself what will happen if the opposite occurs.
If you stumble through a work presentation, what if you use the moment as a learning exercise? What if your team surrounds you with support and you get to grow from the experience? Reframing the mental narrative automatically unseats anxiety and gives you control over your mental health.
Watch for the Dangers of Overthinking
Overthinking might feel like a normal part of your routine, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider using these tips to avoid the dangers of overthinking and enjoy a more stress-free life. Little efforts like reflecting on your thought patterns or breathing more purposefully will ease your mind and help you find more joy every day.
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