Why Am I Overthinking Everything?
For how many of us is the following true?
You message a friend to check in and say hi, but you don’t get a reply. You find yourself thinking about it a little but brush it off, as maybe they’re just busy at the moment. A couple of hours go but and you still haven’t heard anything. You then start to think ‘are they annoyed at me?’ ‘Have I done something wrong?’ You may then find yourself beginning to panic about your relationship with your friend and going over all the times in the past you may have fought. At some point you might quietly say to yourself that you’re possibly overthinking the situation but can’t snap yourself out of it. You quickly feel yourself getting more and more distressed.
The above may be something that you’ve experienced or maybe for you your overthinking might be about something at work or something to do with your relationship. For a lot of us when we start to feel worried about something we can feel like our brain ‘floods’ with thoughts. Sometimes you can find yourself going to ‘worst case scenario’ – even though you know that’s not accurate, or helpful. It might also feel like when a negative though pops into your head, you latch on to it and can’t seem to let it go.
The good news is it’s really normal for our brains to do this. It’s frustrating and can be upsetting, but it’s normal. Our brains are wired to be hyperaware of negative thoughts. With the thousands of thoughts we have in a day we usually tune into the negative thoughts more than the positive thoughts. We can also get fixated on the negative thoughts because our brains tune into them more.
Negative thoughts can often go hand in hand with feeling anxious or worried. The difficulty with this is that when we feel anxious our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response is triggered. Our body begins to prepare for a stressful situation and this means our capacity to think logically decreases. This isn’t too helpful when we’re trying to rationalise with ourselves that we might be ‘overthinking’ something.
How can we manage this?
Like in our blog post Helpful Strategies to Manage Your Inner Critic it can be really useful to ground yourself. Specifically, when you start to feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, try digging your feet into the ground and taking three deep breaths; connect in with your body and notice the room around you. This can help calm your body ,and your mind, so that you can respond rationally to yourself.
Taking deep breaths can help prevent your brain from ‘flooding’ and help you come out of ‘fight or flight’ mode. Focus on keeping your shoulder nice and flat and have your hands on your belly. When taking your deep breaths, try focusing on pushing your hands with your breath, while keeping the rest of your body still. This will help you to calm your thinking and improve your ability to speak calmly and rationally to yourself.
If you or one ,or your loved ones, is having difficulties with their thinking, please feel free to get in touch with our team at Piece by Piece Therapies for more support.