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Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Overthinking—sometimes I think it’s going to be the death of me. I have my days where I get into a state where I’m thinking way too much, unable to turn off my brain no matter how much I try. I think of ways to relax but my mind still tends to move at 1000 mph, leaving me with headaches for days and a mood that starts to change extremely, at times making me feel like I’m going insane, especially when I can’t pinpoint what has me thinking so much.

Although overthinking isn’t really thought of as a medical condition, it does have the side effects of many health disorders including: PTSD, trauma, agoraphobia, panic disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and many others. All of these mental health diagnosis cause overthinking but it is also something most people deal with throughout their lives. It is said that when a person’s mental health starts to decline they are more likely to overthink. There are two different type of over-thinkers: those who contemplate about the past and and those who worry about the future. I do both more than I’d like to admit.

When one starts to overthink, they tend to focus on more negative thoughts, like I do. Thinking about things they could have done differently in the past and how they’ll mess up the future. First it starts off on a small level but then it can get more extreme and cause a snowball effect that puts one in a dark place that is hard to get out of. Some would think of overthinking as self-reflection or a way to solve a problem but it’s much different than that. When you overthink you spend time dwelling on a problem you are facing, how bad you feel and things you have no control over.

A few other examples of what one may overthink:

– Obsessing over what you should have said or done.

– Performance anxiety, or worrying about how you measure up to others.

– Engaging in “what-if” scenarios.

– Thinking the worst will happen.

It can be hard to determine when you are dwelling on the negative aspects of your life because it becomes a routine you get used to. For me I thought it was normal for a long time until I noticed I started feeling unlike myself. I began feeling a little more empty inside, anger and sometimes sad and lonely. Because I think of mental health on a deeper level I never realized me thinking so much was having a negative effect on my health, which includes the daily headaches and my lack of sleep because I wasn’t able to turn off my brain. Once you catch on to the signs of overthinking:

  1. Reliving embarrassing moments repeatedly.
  2. Trouble sleeping because it feels your brain won’t shut off.
  3. Asking “what if…” questions.
  4. Thinking about the hidden meaning in things people say or events that happen.
  5. Rehashing conversations had with people in your mind and thinking about all the things said and not said.
  6. reliving mistakes.
  7. Not paying attention to surroundings due to dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen in the future.
  8. Worrying about things you have no control over.
  9. Constant worry.

You’ll be able to find solutions to help cope with overthinking. If you have trouble sleeping or just staying relaxed try mediating or listening to calming sounds. I find it helpful to find calming mediation playlist when I can’t turn off my brain at night. Try scheduling time to reflect on why you are overthinking so much and think of ways to solve the problem: set small goals, challenge yourself to think positive in negative situations or come up with something productive to do like exercising or writing.