Stop Overthinking Everything

Reviewed Mar 21, 2019

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Summary

Overthinking:

  • Does not solve problems
  • Makes you feel worse
  • Can be changed

If you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything, you may suffer from “overthinking.”

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Question motives in yourself and others
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan couldn’t recall any problems, but she spent a considerable amount of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan created scenarios in her mind that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of flat-screen televisions to go down, David finally purchased one. But then, he began to fret and think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc.

The problem with overthinking

Do you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything? You may suffer from “overthinking.” 

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan spent a lot of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan imagined scenes that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of a new line of laptops to go down, David finally bought one. But then, he began to think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc. 

The problem with overthinking

You may wonder, “So what if I overthink?” Overthinking rarely accomplishes what you hope it will. Consider what typically sets overthinking in motion:

  • A stressful event
  • Something you believe needs fixing
  • A desire to be in control
  • Uncertainty
  • A negative emotion

Overthinking is more likely after something upsetting. Your thoughts may snowball into confusion or anxiety. This makes you less likely to take positive action.

How to stop

At this point, you may see your overthinking habit as a problem that needs fixing. How do you get relief?

For starters, accept that overthinking does not help. Until you can see that it doesn’t solve problems, you’re not likely to want to change.  Once you agree that overthinking is not worthwhile, other steps you can take are to:

  • Catch yourself overthinking
  • Find a healthy distraction:
    • Exercise
    • Listen to uplifting music
    • Pursue a hobby
    • Count your blessings
  • Practice mindfulness: shift your attention to the sights and sounds around you or focus on taking slow, deep breaths
  • Set a timer: if you simply must overthink something, allow yourself a limited time to do so, then STOP!

If you feel overwhelmed by negative or repetitive thoughts, consider getting help from a mental health professional. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2004; You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson, PhD. New World Library, 1997; Eating, Drinking, Overthinking by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2006.

Summary

Overthinking:

  • Does not solve problems
  • Makes you feel worse
  • Can be changed

If you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything, you may suffer from “overthinking.”

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Question motives in yourself and others
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan couldn’t recall any problems, but she spent a considerable amount of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan created scenarios in her mind that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of flat-screen televisions to go down, David finally purchased one. But then, he began to fret and think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc.

The problem with overthinking

Do you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything? You may suffer from “overthinking.” 

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan spent a lot of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan imagined scenes that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of a new line of laptops to go down, David finally bought one. But then, he began to think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc. 

The problem with overthinking

You may wonder, “So what if I overthink?” Overthinking rarely accomplishes what you hope it will. Consider what typically sets overthinking in motion:

  • A stressful event
  • Something you believe needs fixing
  • A desire to be in control
  • Uncertainty
  • A negative emotion

Overthinking is more likely after something upsetting. Your thoughts may snowball into confusion or anxiety. This makes you less likely to take positive action.

How to stop

At this point, you may see your overthinking habit as a problem that needs fixing. How do you get relief?

For starters, accept that overthinking does not help. Until you can see that it doesn’t solve problems, you’re not likely to want to change.  Once you agree that overthinking is not worthwhile, other steps you can take are to:

  • Catch yourself overthinking
  • Find a healthy distraction:
    • Exercise
    • Listen to uplifting music
    • Pursue a hobby
    • Count your blessings
  • Practice mindfulness: shift your attention to the sights and sounds around you or focus on taking slow, deep breaths
  • Set a timer: if you simply must overthink something, allow yourself a limited time to do so, then STOP!

If you feel overwhelmed by negative or repetitive thoughts, consider getting help from a mental health professional. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2004; You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson, PhD. New World Library, 1997; Eating, Drinking, Overthinking by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2006.

Summary

Overthinking:

  • Does not solve problems
  • Makes you feel worse
  • Can be changed

If you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything, you may suffer from “overthinking.”

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Question motives in yourself and others
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan couldn’t recall any problems, but she spent a considerable amount of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan created scenarios in her mind that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of flat-screen televisions to go down, David finally purchased one. But then, he began to fret and think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc.

The problem with overthinking

Do you have a hard time turning off your mind from a constant churning over just about everything? You may suffer from “overthinking.” 

In Eating, Drinking, Overthinking, author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, explains that you are an overthinker if you frequently:

  • Roll potential decisions over in your mind again and again
  • Rehash past events and try to find meaning in them
  • Analyze your moods or personality
  • Think about your thinking
  • Feel you need to notice, fix, and control "what's wrong"

Consider these examples of overthinking

  • Jan’s friend Lisa hadn’t returned her phone calls for several days. Jan spent a lot of time each day replaying recent conversations with Lisa in her mind. Jan imagined scenes that pointed the blame at herself, and she became convinced the friendship was over.
  • After waiting for the price of a new line of laptops to go down, David finally bought one. But then, he began to think repeatedly that maybe he should have waited longer, shopped around even more, saved the money for something else, etc. 

The problem with overthinking

You may wonder, “So what if I overthink?” Overthinking rarely accomplishes what you hope it will. Consider what typically sets overthinking in motion:

  • A stressful event
  • Something you believe needs fixing
  • A desire to be in control
  • Uncertainty
  • A negative emotion

Overthinking is more likely after something upsetting. Your thoughts may snowball into confusion or anxiety. This makes you less likely to take positive action.

How to stop

At this point, you may see your overthinking habit as a problem that needs fixing. How do you get relief?

For starters, accept that overthinking does not help. Until you can see that it doesn’t solve problems, you’re not likely to want to change.  Once you agree that overthinking is not worthwhile, other steps you can take are to:

  • Catch yourself overthinking
  • Find a healthy distraction:
    • Exercise
    • Listen to uplifting music
    • Pursue a hobby
    • Count your blessings
  • Practice mindfulness: shift your attention to the sights and sounds around you or focus on taking slow, deep breaths
  • Set a timer: if you simply must overthink something, allow yourself a limited time to do so, then STOP!

If you feel overwhelmed by negative or repetitive thoughts, consider getting help from a mental health professional. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler, PhD and Tony Hope, MD. Oxford University Press, 1995; Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2004; You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson, PhD. New World Library, 1997; Eating, Drinking, Overthinking by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD. Holt Paperbacks, 2006.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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