We like to think. Indeed, it’s even encouraged from the moment you’re small. We spend a lot of time as children being cautioned to ‘think things through’ and to ‘think about our actions.’ However, what happens when thinking becomes overthinking? If some of a thing is good for you, does that mean a lot can be so much better?
Like many things, too much of something is generally not healthy. For example, many studies have proven dark chocolate has certain health benefits. Eating a small piece has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and even protect you from heart disease. Yet a steady diet of dark chocolate would be terrible for your health, putting you at increased risk for diabetes, and even threatening your body on several levels as it doesn’t provide the nutrition needed for a balanced diet by itself.
So too, overthinking can be damaging. This is why it’s so important to check your thoughts. Don’t believe it? Think about these things:
It Slows Healing
If you’ve just suffered a setback, a little thinking is a good thing. Spending time going over and over what happened isn’t. When you revisit the past in this manner, you very easily become caught up in obsessive thought patterns, which can keep you from moving on to newer and better things.
You Burn Out
Let’s face it, some things you can’t fix. Overthinking those things will only keep you circling around looking for solutions to something which can’t be solved. Now you’re just banging your head on a wall, going nowhere fast.
You Only See Problems
Overthinking tends to concentrate on what’s going wrong and very rarely addresses the things going right. This means it’s very easy to see and even understand the problem, but you’re never going to find the solution.
You Lose All the Good in Life
When was the last time you felt positive about your life? If you’re overthinking? You’re not. Any kind of optimism, hope, and even an eye for solutions can quickly become drowned out by a relentless concentration on negative things such as failure, potential disaster, and problem-centric thinking.
You Lose Gratitude
A thankful heart requires a positive outlook and the acknowledgment of things going right in some regard. Overthinking squelches those thoughts, focusing instead on what you don’t have rather than what you do.
We Become Less Sure of Ourselves
Overthinking makes you second-guess yourself. This damages self-esteem and entirely negates any of your accomplishments, ruining your self-image entirely.
You’re Never Here
How can you live in the moment if you’re always revisiting the past or trying to figure out the future? This kind of overthinking is guaranteed to make you lose today entirely.
Overthinking can actually hurt your physical health.
Let’s find out how.
When you’re overthinking, you’re not acting. This might seem fairly obvious. This becomes a severe problem when you find yourself overthinking to the point where any decision seems hard, and you might even stop making the decisions you really need to, such as those about eating right or getting enough sleep. This kind of immobilisation over time will start leaving you feeling run down, and can even suppress your immune system, making you more prone to illness.
You’re More Tired
Who has energy for anything else when you’re putting everything you’ve got into constant rumination? There simply isn’t anything left for other activities.
You Stop Eating Well
Let’s face it, a cycle of worrying thoughts leads people to one of two extremes pretty much guaranteed. Either you’re overthinking so much you stop eating altogether, or you wind up stress eating everything in sight as a way to derive comfort from the anxiety this causes. Neither is good for you.
You’re Not Sleeping
Anytime your brain keeps circling around on the same thing, it becomes impossible to relax. This is probably the most common result of overthinking: the absolute inability to sleep well at night. If you’re tossing and turning because your brain won’t turn off, you’re definitely overthinking something. Lack of sleep hits you hard. Your cognitive skills go down, you start losing physical coordination, and even might make yourself physically sick over time.
All in all, there isn’t a single health benefit to overthinking. Overthinking is something you need to become aware of. Do you overthink?
Ask yourself these questions:
How Many Times Have You Gone Over This in Your Mind?
Considering a new thought or question a few times is natural. If you’re thinking about this constantly over several hours or even days, you’re probably getting too caught up in your thoughts.
How Many Times Have You Gone Over That Conversation?
Overthinkers can’t let anything rest. If you find yourself revisiting past discussions to the point where you have every piece of dialogue memorised, and even analysed, you’re definitely overthinking.
Where are the Shades of Grey?
People who overthink tend to concentrate on absolutes – everything is either all one way or all another. There’s never any middle ground. If you can’t find the shades of grey, you’re overthinking things.
How Important is What Other People Think?
This goes back to the idea of repeating conversations in your head. Typically, we obsess over what the other person said because we’re worried about their opinion of us. If you’re concerned about how the world sees you, you’re already in trouble. The truth of the matter? At this point, you’re thinking about them, far more than they’re thinking about you.
What is the Motivation?
If you’re spending a lot of time trying to figure out why people are doing something, you’re venturing into dangerous territory. Unless you’re wanting to find out something positive (such as how they did something you want to emulate), you’re wasting your own time. What does it matter if they chose to do a thing? Unless it impacts you directly, it’s really none of your business.
How Are You Sleeping?
If racing thoughts are keeping you up at night, you’re overthinking, plain, and simple. Bedtime is when you’re supposed to let go and allow yourself to rest.
Whenever you allow yourself to be caught up in a spiral of worry and anxiety, you’re allowing your thoughts to take control of your day. Over time, your thoughts can take over your life, keeping you from the things you desire. When this happens, it’s definitely time to take a solid step towards restoring the appropriate balance once again.