Effects of overthinking
Are you still beating yourself up for the mistake you made last week? Are you constantly going over next week’s presentation at work in your head? You are probably overthinking.
Your inability to get out of your head may leave you in a constant state of anguish. Of course, we all tend to overthink a situation occasionally. But if you spend hours worrying over trivial matters, then you will probably struggle to keep your mind calm and focused.
A mind is a precious tool but what happens when your thoughts get out of control?
We, humans, are gifted with a thinking capacity that is superior to all other beings on this planet. History proves that the human brain is able to create great things, like literature, buildings, movies and thousands of inventions that enhance the species.
Thinking makes you do your job, get a degree, plan for the future, and many truth seekers and conspiracy theorists rely on their thinking brain to discover the peculiarities of the human condition.
But what happens when the mind stops being a utility and starts using you? What if your mind gets out of control and eats all of your life energy just to keep going and producing unnecessary or even destructive thoughts?
Why overthinking is bad?
Overthinking is more than just a nuisance – science reveals that thinking too much can take a toll on your general well-being too.
Here is how overthinking can damage you:
May trigger mental illness
Are you always fixated on your past mistakes? Dwelling on your mistakes, problems and shortcomings increases your chances of being affected by mental health problems. Overthinking can set you up for a vicious cycle that is hard to break. It wreaks havoc on your mental peace – and as you lose your peace of mind, you tend to overthink.
Interferes with problem-solving ability
Do you overanalyze things? Overthinkers believe that rehashing certain situations or problems in the head helps them overcome it. However, studies claim otherwise. Overanalyzing interferes with one’s ability to solve problems as it causes you to dwell on the problem and imagine situations that may never happen, rather than finding a solution.
Even making simple choices, like choosing an outfit for the day or deciding on the next vacation spot, may feel like a life-or-death situation when you are an overthinker. Ironically, all that overthinking will never help you make a better choice!
Disrupts your sleep
If you are an overthinker, you probably face sleep problems. This is because your body does not allow you to sleep when your mind is not at peace. Ruminating on almost everything and worrying constantly about things over which you have little or no control often lead to fewer hours of sleep. Thus, overthinking impairs your quality of sleep and may make you cranky the next day as well.
To understand this one we have to know what thinking actually does. Your thoughts create emotions. No matter if it’s grief, anger or fear: these are sensations that are produced by thoughts.
Extremely anxious people are in fact overthinkers. They have created so many possible scenarios in their minds about what is going to happen next, that they are constantly plagued by anxiety.
Worrying about the future prevents you to be in the present moment. Too much anxiety can make you miserable and exhausted. It can even lead to suicidal ideations and suicide itself.
Yes, you can literally think yourself to death.
While anxiety comes from worrying about the future, depression is a consequence of being stuck in the past. Of course, there is more to depression if you look at it as a sickness or disorder, but simply put: thinking about past events over and over again makes you miserable.
Some people carry around the heavy cross of the past every moment of their life. Every day they remind themselves of the things that happened and the things that could have gone differently.
What if? What if? They asked themselves. But hey: whatever you do, the past cannot be changed.
It’s great to take the lessons generated by your life experiences with you to make better decisions in the future. However, worrying about those experiences is absolute nonsense.
Like anxiety, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and, thus, suicide itself.
Have you experienced that you want to go to sleep but your active mind is withholding you from doing so?
Even when the body is tired your mind may be wide awake. What people often do is forcing themselves to go to sleep. But that will never work because falling asleep is a mechanism that the mind cannot control.
An overthinking mind — especially one that is worrying about the fact that you can’t fall asleep — can cause insomnia. This is a potentially dangerous condition because sleep is essential for your well-being and functioning during the day.
Insomnia often goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety that I have previously talked about. A common symptom is waking up around 4 o’clock in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep, even when you only had about 4 or 5 hours of sleep.
When it comes to sleep, your mind needs to be fully relaxed and basically unaware that you are entering sleep mode. Otherwise, it will just continue to force sleep on you without any results.
Overthinking can result in you not making decisions. Perhaps you have too many ideas, or you have thought about a thousand scenarios about how you will make a wrong decision.
Before starting a business, a YouTube channel, a blog, or asking out a girl: there is always a reason to not act. Yes, your business can fail. So can your YouTube channel and blog. And yes: the girl may turn you down.
But if you don’t go for it you receive a guaranteed “no-go.” Yet, so many people rather take no in exchange for certainty than that they choose uncertainty to obtain a yes. They are paralyzed by their thoughts.
In other words: overthinking leads to wasted opportunities.
Overthinking is the root of many problems. And many mental problems have physical solutions. Meditation is a simple solution for calming the mind. But there are many other options to look into like exercise, diet and the way your life is scheduled.
Personally I am very prone to overthinking. For me, a combination of exercise, meditation, diet, and structure (also known as discipline) is the ultimate cure for overthinking.
It takes effort to form healthy habits but believe me: it’s all worth it.