Do you think there is a difference between ‘thinking the right amount’ and ‘overthinking’? At times it may feel like ‘problem-solving’ and at times like ‘self-reflection’. However, both these terms are distinct from overthinking. Overthinking can be hard to spot.

We may engage in a vicious cycle of paying attention to certain things and then involve ourselves in a loop of thoughts that keeps us busy but in a negative manner. This vicious cycle keeps on repeating itself and invades our healthy patterns.

When you seek anxiety treatment, counsellors can help you identify signs of overthinking like

  • Dwelling on past events or situations
  • Second-guessing the decisions you’ve made
  • Replaying your mistakes in your mind
  • Rehashing challenging or uncomfortable conversations
  • Fixating on things you can’t control, change or improve
  • Imagining the worst-case scenario or outcome
  • “Running your list” while trying to fall asleep
  • Questioning but never making a decision or taking action

Overthinking can significantly impact your personal life, social life and work-life too. Most importantly, overthinking may also cause emotional distress.

How overthinking affects mental health?

  • Overthinking may

    • Promote or intensify different forms of mental illnesses like stress, anxiety, and depression
    • Affect problem-solving and decision-making
    • Disrupt daily routine activities by taking up much of your day
    • Interfere in interpersonal relationships by breeding doubts or misunderstandings
    • Impact sleep and appetite
    • Physically exhaust the brain cells making it difficult for them to generate creative insights
    • Decrease self-confidence and foster self-doubt

How to deal with overthinking?
You can try and use the following tips before you seek help

  • Understand your thinking pattern

    • Identify situations or topics when you feel sucked in the vicious loop of negative thinking
    • Identify the decisions that require careful analysis, consider your priorities and know what’s truly meaningful to you
    • Try and figure out the difference between this negative cycle and problem solving situations which can help you in spending less time thinking about a particular topic
  • Find a distraction for yourself

    • To come out of the loop of overthinking, you can try and distract yourself by getting engaged in activities that are of your interest
    • You can go out, take a walk, listen to music or talk to a friend
  • Try to reduce your perfectionism

    • Perfectionism may lead to overthinking, and create a cycle of self-blame and low self-esteem
  • Understand your status of control

    • Sometimes we are not able to understand that not everything is in our control, and we tend to overthink then
    • It is important to understand and gain an insight into the things which we can and cannot control

Figuring out how to stop overthinking may not be an easy task to do by oneself. Counsellors at CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH, PUNE can help in dealing with overthinking and reduce its negative effects on your mental health.