People have heard of anxiety being a mental health disorder, but, overthinking? When does thinking become too much? How does one know he has gone overboard and actually has overthinking disorder? After looking at the different mental health issues people suffer from, it is quite a revelation that overthinking is one of them. As a matter of fact, overthinking could occur in conjunction with anxiety, making matters even worse. It would be similar to having magnified thoughts of fear and thinking about them a million times over. These two are a dangerous duo if not given proper attention. Fortunately, there are ways to beat anxiety and overthinking.
What is Overthinking and When Does It Become a Disorder?
Overthinking simply means expending a significant amount of time thinking about something. Overthinkers think about even the most trivial of things for too long. These could include baseless anticipations of events that are unlikely to happen, regrets or “what ifs”, “should haves”, and “could haves”, and worries about others’ impression and assumption about them. If these thoughts leave someone feeling emotionally exhausted or distressed, then overthinking might be a disorder and might even occur with anxiety. In some cases, it is actually a by-product of anxiety itself.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Overthinking as Mental Health Disorders
Some symptoms evident in chronic overthinkers also suffering from anxiety are:
1. Having difficulty sleeping or having sleepless nights thinking about problems, even those that are out of their control.
2. Feeling excessively tired or feeling fatigued easily.
3. Having obsessive thoughts about what others think about them or what they did.
4. Being fixated on events of the past and how they should or could have done or said something.
5. Having frightful thoughts about the future and thinking about what they should or could say or do.
6. Worrying about having a panic attack.
7. Dreading failure and being afraid of taking action because of that fear of failure.
8. Wanting to be in control.
9. Requiring reassurance from others about their decisions and judgment.
10. Turning to external diversions in order to calm the mind and emotions.
Healthy Habits and Practices to Overcome Anxiety and Overthinking
Here are a few tips on what habits to develop to manage anxiety and overthinking:
Have a healthy mindset. Have a positive perspective about life and learn to believe that despite the struggles in your mind, the universe is conniving and things will work out to your advantage. You only need to be patient to witness it all.
Give yourself a dose of positivity daily. Immerse in experiences that make you feel good about yourself and help you maintain a happy disposition in life. Welcome positive affirmations and resolve to keep optimism alive within you.
Engage in physical activities. Studies show that keeping an active lifestyle not only helps with physical fitness but also has remarkable effects on having a sound mental health. Hormones that improve the mood are released during exercise that is why it is important to incorporate a workout routine at least once a week.
Look for healthy and holistic diversions. Keeping distracted and diverting your attention to something more fun and productive will help take your mind off your worries and fears. Think of something new to learn. Participate in events that will help you up one skill a notch or make you gain knowledge and experience.
Learn to accept and reject. This refers to learning to let go of things that are totally out of your control. There is no point in drowning yourself in agitation when there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. Also, learn to reject opinions that do not really matter. No one can please everyone and not everyone’s opinion should have an impact on your life, especially your nagging self-doubt or negative self-talk. This is the time to choose which things to let in your mind and which things to let go of.
Practice mindfulness. This simply means living in the now and appreciating the present. Focusing on events when they happen as they happen, or on things as they are, is another form of diversion from all the hullabaloo inside your head. Do not react, only observe.
Find time to relax and meditate. Meditation and relaxation do not only release the tension in your physical body, but also help you break away from the loop of thoughts that only prolong or worsen your anxiety.
Practice self-gratification. Knowing how and when to reward yourself for victories, no matter how big or small, will help reinforce positive behavior. This will motivate you to keep practicing healthy habits and maintaining a positive outlook in life.
Develop an attitude of gratitude. Have a gratitude journal and try to read it every day. Acknowledging the good things happening in your life will allow you to focus more on the positive rather than the negative. This is a good way to develop a mentality that looks for the good in everything.
Do not be afraid to seek help. When all else fails, or if you need a little more boost, do not hesitate to ask help – from your family, friends, healthcare professionals, or people you believe would be able to get you to overcome your condition. Medications and therapies are available. Once you open yourself to healing, the healing process will find its way to you.
The mind is programmed with higher order thinking skills. People have the ability to think critically and analytically. However, too much of something usually does more harm than good. It is, therefore, important to know how to manage one’s thoughts by developing a system that will make one’s cognitive abilities work to one’s advantage and help one become more effective and productive.