Overthinking: What it is and 10 signs you are an overthinker

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The general definition of overthinking is “to think too much or for too long about something.” While it’s human nature to think something out when making a decision or assessing a situation, when you can’t get out of your own mind, it becomes overthinking.


At any point in our lives, it happens to all of us; we all experience events that make us feel anxiety or discomfort. Yet it appears some individuals can’t toggle off their fears. They even ruminate on the past, beating themselves up about “should have” and “could have.” They fret over what people will think of them or let their minds build up derogatory self-talk.

Overthinking a complicated choice that you have to make will trigger complications as well. Classic examples of what an overthinking mind can do are focusing on a past event and making disastrous forecasts from it. Replaying all the choices in your head can lead to “paralysis by analysis” (when you are afraid to take the wrong action, so you don’t take any action at all).  It is much easier to make the wrong decision than to make no choice.

You have also endured sleepless nights where the brain simply won’t turn off, whether you’re a chronic overthinker or need to make a tough choice. Overthinking will increase depressive symptoms, cloud your judgment, and elevate your levels of stress.

There are two forms of overthinking: ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. It is different from solving problems. Problem-solving requires the thought of a solution. Dwelling on the subject requires overthinking.


Overthinking is distinguished from self-reflection as well. Healthy self-reflection is about understanding or having a new viewpoint on a situation or something about yourself. They’re purposeful. A chicken-or-egg type issue is the link between overthinking and mental health problems. Overthinking, like depression and anxiety, is related to psychological issues.

Overthinking is likely to cause a deterioration in mental health, and the more likely you are to overthink as your mental health declines. It is a vicious downward spiral. But, the spiral is hard to identify when you are stuck in the middle of it. Actually, your brain may try to persuade you that worrying and ruminating is somehow beneficial.

Signs You are an Overthinker

Overthinking is very common and can be triggered by self-doubt; or worry about continuing past behaviors in relation to previous negative experiences according to Huttman. You can take steps to change as you become more mindful of your tendency to overthink things. But first, you need to realize that overthinking is doing more harm than good.

Sometimes, individuals believe that somehow their overthinking prevents bad stuff from occurring. And they believe that whether they don’t care yet, or whether they rehash the experience enough, they are likely to face further issues anyway. But, the evidence is pretty clear, overthinking and overanalyzing is terrible for you and doesn’t do anything to stop problems or fix them. Overthinking about a past event will only result in a bad outcome.

Here are 10 signs that you are an overthinker:

1. I spend a lot of time wondering about the secret meanings of what people say or incidents that arise.

2. I repeatedly re-live embarrassing events in my head.

3. I don’t know what’s going on around me sometimes, so I concentrate on things that have happened in the past or think about things that could happen in the future.

4. I keep replaying it in my head anytime someone speaks or behaves in a way I don’t like.

5. I am still reliving my faults.

6. I waste a great deal of time thinking about something that I don’t have control over.

7. I can’t keep my thoughts away from my fears.

8. I am having trouble sleeping and it seems like my brain isn’t going to shut down.

9. I am asking myself a lot of “what if…” questions.

10. I am trying to rehash the conversations I had with people in my head and wonder about all the things I wished I had or didn’t say.

What Happens To Your Body When You Overthink

Research has revealed that many overthinkers believe that by cycling through their thoughts, they are really doing themselves a favor. The fact of the matter, though, is that overthinking is a risky game that can have a lot of negative effects on our well-being. When you subject your brain to overthinking, it comes with side effects that can affect your mental health. When you overthink, here is what happens to your body:

You become less creative

A U.K. study revealed that you are more imaginative when some parts of the brain and cognitive processes are quiet. Overthinking, which can lead to a “mental rut,” as the study notes—may ultimately cause you to get stuck and run out of new solutions or ideas. Although some overthinking can lead to fresh, new ideas, this can also backfire and create mental obstacles that can make one find difficulty in thinking outside the box.

The same finding was drawn by another report from Stanford. Volunteers were asked to draw a series of images while hooked up to magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRIs), some easy to illustrate, some challenging. The harder the photos were to draw, the more it was important for the participants to think, and the less creative their drawings were. The fewer thoughts were involved, the more creative the sketches were, on the flip side.

In brief, it seems like too much thought puts a cap on creativity.

Your sleep may take a hit

Lots of overthinkers struggle to fall asleep, instead of shutting down and getting some shut-eye, shuffling through thoughts. In order to sleep, your body needs to get into a state of calm; your heart rate needs to go down, as does your blood pressure and breathing. It can be arousing to overanalyze, particularly when thoughts are more anxious. According to Spiegel, this will take you out of the calming state that your body requires to be in for sleep.

Your energy levels might drop

To overthink it takes a lot of mental energy. Too many different thoughts and scenarios are created by your brain that are not really moving towards something constructive. “Mental energy will completely make it tiring without any kind of physical outlet and make it feel like you’re tired because you spent so much time in your own head,” Price said.


Spiegel added that our bodies contain cortisol, the stress hormone when we overthink and stress ourselves out. This continuous release of cortisol can be depleting and cause burnout over time. It is like your car is driving in the wrong gear. Your engine is running, but you don’t get very far,’ said Spiegel.

Your appetite might change

Overthinking can have a huge impact on the appetites of people. It can suppress appetite for others, and it can increase it for others, which is more common. This is called “worry eating” by Spiegel, who claims people do it because it can be distracting or even calming. When stressed, many individuals prefer to go for the tastiest and unhealthiest items, Spiegel said, adding that there is a reason why high-fat, sugary foods are called comfort foods.

How to Deal with Overthinking

Do not despair if you understand that you appear to get caught up in overthinking. To regain your time, resources, and brainpower, you should take measures. There are many mental strength exercises, from scheduling time to worry about changing the channel, that can help you avoid overthinking everything.

A lot of people ask, “Why am I overthinking?” and never come up with a reply. But worry and stress are emotions, and your emotions can be controlled. “Let fear be your counselor and not your jailor,” as Tony Robbins says. It’s time to confront your fears so you can conquer them. Try to avoid overthinking things for good in these seven ways:

Let go of the past

Overthinkers frequently rely on the past, wasting resources on “what ifs” and “should have.” Those who know how to avoid overthinking realize that this is just the past. It can’t be altered. The only thing that you can change is the importance that you give to it.

Letting go of the past means you do not let your mistakes control your future choices and you don’t let your feelings be controlled by negative things that have been done to you. You forgive others and you let your rage go away.

Take control of your emotions

Living in the moment doesn’t mean that the negative feelings should be buried. You need to understand them and recognize their root causes in order to master your emotions.  Always dig deeper when you are feeling nervous. It’s also about overcoming your bigger fears, such as not feeling in control of your life or not advancing in a way that you would like to be.

Talking to a friend, therapist, or loved one will also give you a new viewpoint and understand that, after all, something that seems bad or complex is not always so complicated. Always be conscious of the root causes of your overthinking and before it begins, you will start making progress to stop it.

Manage your story

Tony says, “We are all telling stories to ourselves. The question is, is your story inspiring or holding you back?”  The stories we all tell ourselves about who we are have an impact on every aspect of our lives. Overthinkers can say, “I’ve always been a worrier” or “I’m just more anxious than everyone else, naturally.” These are words that hold you back and can be particularly difficult to alter if you’ve never questioned yourself, “Why do I overthink?”.

To overcome your restricted convictions, you need to identify them first. And when you begin to tell yourself these negative stories, you can catch yourself and replace them with positive ones, such as “I am in charge of my emotions”. You can change your life if you change your story.

Live in the moment

Living on a past occurrence and making catastrophic predictions out of it are classic examples of what an overthinking mind can do. To learn how to avoid overthinking, living in the moment is important. Most people can’t just turn a switch and survive right now – or can they? You should control your mind and avoid negative thinking. Identify the overthinking until the spiral is out of reach and take a minute to reset.

Breathe and reflect on the moment – what do you hear and see? What are you really grateful for? It will require conscious awareness at first. Regular routines like meditation and priming will help you retrain your brain to live in the moment.

Focus on solutions

If you want to break the cycle of overthinking, it is important that you come up with techniques to use when you know that you’re over-thinking. As Tony says, “Identify your problems, but give your strength and energy to the solutions.” You have identified the real causes of your stress and anxiety, but your work isn’t done. The best way to learn how to avoid worrying too hard for the sake of good is to take care of your life.

If your overthinking is triggered by job stress, reconsider your career route. If you are not where you want to be in your life, set your own goals so that you can get there. If you feel like life is out of your grasp, make a decision today to get back behind the wheel. These are big strides, and they are taking their guts. Remember: nobody regulates your reality, but you, don’t you want your life to be extraordinary?


Get the right tools

It is not an inherent gift to know how to avoid overthinking. It is not genetic, neither is it set in stone during your childhood. A lot of people who are able to control their feelings and stop being caught in a spiral of overthinking and anxiety have built these skills over time. It requires courage, but it also requires the right set of resources.

Ask yourself the right questions

Asking the wrong questions, like “Why am I overthinking?” again and again will not allow you to identify what is actually going on in your thoughts or life. They can just make more overthinking easier.

Focus on constructive solution-oriented problems rather than those that cause rumination. It takes practice, but with time, when you stress excessively, you will be able to easily understand and choose to do something in real life instead of spending a lot of time in your head.

Rather than thinking, “Why is my relationship with others turning sour?” Ask “What kind of energy do I project that draws negative partners?”. You can minimize overthinking and improve your life when you ask questions that encourage you to make adjustments to your own actions and move forward in a healthy way.

Source (s)

How to stop overthinking – tonyrobbins

10 signs you’re an overthinker – inc

Here’s what happens to your body when you overthink – huffpost

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