In our increasingly hectic society, it seems that chronic overthinking has become the norm. Many of us, whether intentionally or not, spend hours scrolling social media, which inherently causes overthinking due to the barrage of information. In addition to social media, life, in general, has become more complex. And our faster-than-ever pace gives us more problems to solve.
Our brains have become overstimulated as well from Netflix binging, social media, and other forms of entertainment. Do you often find yourself having racing thoughts where you can’t seem to think clearly? If so, you’re probably an overthinker. The key is downtime, where you can turn off your thoughts and “get out of your head,” so to speak.
In fact, doing so might save your life. According to a study from Harvard University, neural overactivity could lead to a decreased life span, while suppressing such activity leads to a longer life. So, the operation of your nervous system influences longevity, which means overthinking is more dangerous than previously thought.
So, if you’re one of the over-thinkers in the world (which is pretty much all of us at this point), here are some reasons you should try to curb the habit. We’ll also list some tips at the end of the article about how you can overcome overthinking.
“We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think, think, think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap.” ~ Anthony Hopkins
Here are nine reasons to stop overthinking:
1 – It can cause insomnia.
We’ve all had those sleepless nights where we can’t seem to shut our brains off. Unfortunately, many people in the world suffer from chronic overthinking even while trying to fall asleep and get some much-needed rejuvenation.
However, chronic insomnia only exacerbates the problem, as it can lead to increased anxiety, impaired brain function, irritability, and unhealthy eating habits. This vicious cycle can only break by tackling the thoughts directly.
If you find yourself ruminating about the same issues, try journaling about them before bed. Perhaps then you can come up with a solution and reduce the amount of stress in your life. Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can also help to slow your mind down and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
2 – Overthinking leads to fear, which can paralyze you.
If you live in a state of near-constant fear, then you won’t have any energy left to work on your life and dreams.
To tackle your repetitive negative thoughts, try a meditation practice, or something else that encourages mindfulness and living in the present moment. Other suggestions include allowing a “worry period” each day. Allot 15 to 30 minutes per day to get your worries out, whether that’s through writing or talking to someone. This way, the intrusive thoughts won’t overpower you, and you’ll know that you have time each day devoted to releasing them.
3 – It can lead to control issues.
Overthinkers have one main problem: they have a desire to control every aspect of life. They want to know the future, but because it can’t be predicted, this leaves them with high anxiety. Overthinkers wish to manipulate every detail of a plan. And without a plan, they feel helpless and out of control.
They don’t like the unknown, which causes them to have analysis paralysis. Instead of taking action, they continually make plans to try to mitigate any problems in the future. However, this study from UC Santa Barbara found that overthinking often leads to poor judgment and decision-making.
When you’re overthinking, try to take deep breaths and bring yourself back to the present moment. Remember that when we give up control of life and allow it to flow instead, great things unfold for us.
4. Overthinking stems from perfectionism.
Studies have shown that perfectionism is on the rise, and researchers believe the increase in social media and more competitive standards for employment are two leading causes. However, no amount of thinking will ever make you perfect, so you may as well loosen the reigns a little and give yourself some credit. If you’ve made it to this point in life, you’ve done a lot right, so congratulate yourself!
We’re often so hard on ourselves without even realizing it. Remember that any mistakes you have made have been valuable learning lessons as well.
5. You second-guess yourself.
Chronic overthinkers often overanalyze situations and decisions, and this can lead to them taking a long time to make any decision. Or, once they’ve made a decision, they have trouble following through due to a barrage of thoughts telling them everything that could go wrong.
As we’ve said before, the answer to this is to go with your intuition and get out of your head. Even if the path you choose doesn’t go according to plan, at least you can say you tried.
6. You might suffer from more headaches.
Did you know overthinking can lead to more migraines? Headaches signal that we need time to rest, and this can mean rest from our brains. The brain is incredibly powerful, but because of this, it can easily malfunction if we aren’t taking active steps to improve our mental health. If you find that negative thoughts repeat on a loop much of the time, you’re probably an overthinker.
In addition to mindfulness, positive affirmations and interrupting the negative thought stream with a counter thought are productive ways of combating overthinking.
7. It can cause stiff muscles and joints.
Since our thoughts become things, rigid beliefs can lead to stiffness in the body. If your emotional body is sick, chances are your physical body will be as well. Overthinking can lead to aches and pains in various places because stressful thoughts can lead to an increase in cortisol. This stress hormone meant to help you in life-or-death situations also is released when the brain senses any danger in the modern world. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t yet evolved to deal with the constant stressors, and this can cause physical symptoms.
To combat this, make sure to stretch daily and get regular exercise. A healthy body helps promote a healthy mind, as well.
8. Overthinking can make you exhausted.
When we feel tired regularly, this means that something in our lives is imbalanced. Of course, any number of things can cause fatigue, from actual underlying illness to a lack of sleep to nutrient deficiencies. However, if you’ve ruled all of these out and you still find yourself feeling exhausted, then you might want to check inside your brain for answers.
The brain can’t run continuously; just like the body, it needs to rest every once in a while. Even during a busy workday, the brain might need to check out for a few minutes and recharge, and you should honor that. When we don’t listen to our internal cues, it can later manifest as something much more severe.
9. It takes us out of the present moment.
Most of us struggle with this in today’s overstimulating world, but trying to stay in the moment more will significantly help our mental health. Overthinking can cause us to become trapped in our heads, which means we won’t fully take in what’s going on around us. Living in your head too much might feel safer, but you’ll be missing out on some very precious moments with family and friends.
When you find yourself getting wrapped up in your mind, focus on what’s around you. What are the sights, sounds, and smells you can take in from your immediate environment? Psychologists recommend doing this when you have a panic attack, and it can also work for overthinking. This will help you stay in the moment instead of letting your mind run a mile a minute. Living from your heart more than your head will get you far in life, so remember this next time you find yourself taking your thoughts too seriously.
Final thoughts about why you should stop overthinking
Overthinking can cause a host of problems, from migraines to losing sight of the present moment to bodily aches and pains. It can also cause insomnia, control issues, and prevent us from moving forward in life. However, choosing to pay attention to others more instead of focusing so much on ourselves can provide some relief from our thoughts. Many people are isolated today and feel lonely, thus forming communities where we can share our thoughts and bond with each other can solve this overthinking crisis.
In summary, get back to the basics first. Feed your mind and body healthy foods and thoughts, exercise regularly, have a relaxation practice, maintain healthy friendships and partnerships, and get quality sleep. Also, try to find a job that you enjoy, because we spend a lot of our lives working. Why should we spend this time being miserable? Make your life work for you, and this begins with the quality of your thoughts. Positive thoughts pave the way to a positive life!