Although overthinking itself isn’t a mental health disorder, it is a bad habit – one that can seriously affect our mental well-being if left unchecked. In light of recent events such as the coronavirus pandemic, paying more attention to our collective health, both physical and mental, is important. From readjusting to new ways of working to extended periods of isolation due to lockdowns, we’ve had quite a year of transition, and with every transition comes a period of adjustment.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there has been an increase in heightened anxiety, depression, and stress during periods of isolation this pandemic – a lot of which is influenced by the current unknowns. One of them being the habit of overthinking.
What is overthinking?
If you constantly beat yourself up for past mistakes and incessantly stress over unknowns, you are probably an overthinker. In fact, many of us can fall victim to this bad habit from time to time: a whopping 73% of adults between the ages 25-35 overthink, as do 52% of 45-55 year-olds.
As opposed to problem-solving, overthinking results in dwelling on a problem without taking any productive action or offering valuable insight. This inability to get out of your head can leave you feeling constantly stressed and worried.
Worrying itself isn’t a problem, it can sometimes lead to productive behaviour, but overdoing it is the precursor to developing terrible habits and poor mental health well-being.
Some negative effects of overthinking include:
- Development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Worsening of chronic health problems
Ways to stop overthinking
When people overthink, they either dwell on the past or worry about the future, being aware of this will help to curb the issue.
Other strategies to help you manage overthinking include:
- Recognise and acknowledge your overthinking habit
- Learn to reframe unrealistic thoughts
- Practise problem-solving techniques and address concerns you have control over
- Begin meditating or incorporating mind-calming techniques for when you feel overwhelmed
Learning to recognise when you’re overthinking can be useful in helping you to track the habit, find ways around it, and manage these tendencies better. It is especially important that you nip the problem in the bud before it leads to greater negative consequences.
Nurturing a healthier mindset
Stressing over things you cannot control is counterproductive to your well-being. Even though we may not see it, our mental health plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being. Caregiving shouldn’t be limited to just your physical health, care services should also work to improve mental health as well.
Nurturing a healthier mindset will help you hone your decision-making skills, , and adopt more positive behaviours when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
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