If I were given a magic wand and with it the ability to change something about myself, I’d tap my midsection and make it disappear. Be gone! Haha.
But honestly, I’d probably erase my propensity to overthink. I have the habit (yes it’s a habit) of being stuck in my own head sometimes; over analyzing conversations and interactions or just worrying over potential outcomes, most often negative outcomes which never occur.
We all worry or overthink from time to time. When most people worry it’s because they want to solve a perceived problem and they think about it until they don’t want to anymore. The anxious thoughts serve a purpose – problem solving and when these thoughts stop feeling useful, they turn their attention elsewhere.
The overthinker however (who are usually perfectionists) just can’t let it go. We feel we have to work through every possible scenario and solve every problem. And. Do. It. Now.
Much of our overthinking is a result of not being comfortable with uncertainty. We just can’t deal with not knowing how something is going to turn out. We hate not being in control because control = safety, so we try to overcome this uncertainty by analysis. Perhaps if we can predict, we can prepare for whatever it is we’re afraid of.
Overthinking is commonly associated with anxiety because the anxious brain is hypervigilant and always on the lookout for potentially dangerous or worrisome situations. So if you have anxiety, you may be prone to overthinking.
Science also backs this connection. When we obsess about something we activate the amygdala. This area in our brain is the emotional center and it’s involved in the creation of anxiety and fear. The more we obsess about something, the more we train our brain to think about it and the more we activate the amygdala, thereby creating a powerful feedback loop.
What are the symptoms of overthinking? Do you identify with any of them?
- Difficulty falling asleep due to racing thoughts
- You tend to be a perfectionist and can’t accept failure so you avoid it
- Fear of the future
- You need to control everything so you plan out the future, but because you can’t predict it, this causes you great anxiety
- You second guess yourself and don’t trust your own judgement
- Inability to stay in the present moment
- Fatigue, tension headaches, stiff muscles and joints
If this sounds anything like you, you aren’t alone. Overthinking is more common that you think, especially in those 23-35 years old.
Overthinking increases the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It interferes with problem solving and productivity. Chronic worry can also affect your digestive system, your heart as well as your immune system.
However, please don’t start to worry about your overthinking!! There are strategies you can implement to break this habit. I will discuss them next week. Join me then!
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