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  • Patricia Faust

The Problem With Overthinking


We normally think that we are generating all of the thoughts and actions that our brains make and take. But that is far from the truth. Our brains are on autopilot for everything important. Our brains are hardwired to protect us from threats and keep us alive. So when our brain detects a threat it goes into fight-or-flight response. There are a lot of physiological actions that take place (extra blood flow to muscles, sugars and fats pumped into blood stream, digestion shuts down, immune system pumps out inflammatory chemicals) – all done to save our life. And, we are not aware that any of these chemical changes are even occurring. When we are constantly thinking or worrying about events that haven’t happened we are triggering the fight-or-flight response over and over. This causes a lot of wear and tear on your brain – known as allostatic load. This state of being accelerates aging and chronic illnesses. And it damages our brain cells. When we are overthinking or worrying about future events we are damaging our body and our brain.

Overthinking is a problem or situation that can leave your head spinning – and usually no answers are found. It is a problem in itself because it can paralyze us from taking action. There are two perspectives on overthinking that can play havoc with our minds.

  1. Overthinking happens when you get caught in a loop of thinking of one event over and over.

  2. Overthinking decisions – analyzing them to the point where you can’t make a decision anymore – analysis paralysis.


Take Action

The goal of these situations is to get out of the overthinking loop and move forward.

How does that happen?

  • Take action now – instead of overthinking an idea, you can actually do something about it

  • Direct your attention elsewhere – sometimes you can’t take action, so to stop overthinking, distract your mind

  • Stop talking about it – in seeking the advice of other people, we get information overload and it becomes impossible not to overthink it; limit information and look at it more productively

  • Figure out why you are overthinking – Psychology Today notes that even though our brains are often hard-wired to overthink – we can move the process along.

Here’s a four step plan to moving on:

  1. Re-label the ideas you are overthinking (self-doubt, anxiety, etc.)

  2. Reframe your experience and identify your thinking errors

  3. Refocus your attention on the part that matters

  4. Revalue your brain messages with the new information then take a step back and look at why you were overthinking, close the loop, and move on. Minimize the thought, make them productive and move on.


How to Stop Overthinking Everything and Find Peace of Mind by T. Klosowski

References:

Bates, S.M. (December 13, 2014). How to stop overthinking and brain clutter. Retrieved July 31, 2018 from https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/chronic-over-thinking/

Klosowski, T. (July 24, 2014). How to stop overthinking everything and find peace of mind? Retrieved December 17, 2015 from http://lifehacker.com/how-to-stop-overthinking-everything-and-find-peace-of-m-1609850688

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