Mental Health
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Overthinking: Why it’s hard to stop & my tips to break the cycle

The past days, or should I say weeks, haven’t been easy for me. I’ve been struggling a lot with overthinking, especially in the past days, and it feels like it’s reaching its peak at this very second I’m writing this. My head feels like it’s going to explode any minute, my thoughts are spiraling inside my head, and I feel so incredibly mentally exhausted. Still, I somehow can’t make it stop.

Negative thoughts, worries, self-doubt.
Does this sound familiar to you?

A couple of days ago, I posted a little introvert reminder on Instagram, saying: “Some thoughts are not worth overthinking.” Oh boy, am I right with this.

And still, here I am sitting on my laptop on this wonderful Thursday evening, overthinking and overthinking… and driving myself mad…

@thegermanintrovert on Instagram!

Does that make me a hypocrite and a failure? Of course not.

Even I, someone who understands a lot about mental health and studies health psychology at university, struggles like every other human being. And overthinking is really my kryptonite…

If you’re an overthinker like me, you know that there are thoughts that just really want to stick in your brain. No matter what you try, the moment you think they are finally gone, they’re going to be there staring at you and forcing you to overthink them again. Believe me, not even my beloved forest walks can chase them away. I tried!

There are two types of overthinking:

Overthinking is thinking about things you don’t have any control over. Either it’s things that you worry about in the future or that you regret doing in the past. Each of them is a different type of overthinking but causing both the same type of unproductive and unpleasant worry.

Overthinking makes you dwell in the negative emotions and worry either of those situations are causing you without offering any room or mental capacity to find a solution. You are emotionally and mentally focusing on the problem and what pain it’s causing for you and not solving it. But trust me, this doesn’t happen because you suddenly lost all your remaining brain cells! It’s because you either lack the information to find a solution to your current problem or because you’re doubting yourself to be able to find one.

Thinking about a problem while focusing on solving the problem, on the other hand, isn’t considered overthinking. Overthinking is a very unproductive type of mental process. Problem-solving “overthinking”, on the other hand, focuses on making intelligent and productive connections between the problem, the current situation, and the given possibilities to find an appropriate solution for it.

Why it can be hard to “just stop” overthinking:

  1. You don’t know where to start looking for a solution to your problem
  2. You’re self-doubting yourself a lot
  3. You’re comparing yourself to others leaving yourself feeling insecure & powerless
  4. You are too afraid to look for (emotional) support
  5. You’re distracting yourself from it rather than looking for the root cause

My tip for introverts who are overthinking right now!

I know it’s not easy to break an on-going overthinking cycle, and to be honest, sometimes it just takes a lot of patience with yourself to finally get over it. But if one thing is for sure, then it’s that you need to take care of yourself when you feel stuck in overthinking things.

These past days, I have been finding it incredibly helpful to just listen to myself and what my heart and intuition were telling me. Do I need a break? Do I need to retreat? Whatever it was, I’m still trying to just give myself what I needed to reduce the pressure I was also putting on me.

After logging off from social media for two days, something I instantly felt drawn to was to grab my journal and write my heart out.

Guiding journaling prompts that I used:

“What am I overthinking right now?”

“How do I feel about myself in this very moment?”

“What would be a good reason stop worrying about this?”

Give yourself time & do things that make you happy

If there is one thing you don’t want to do when you’re in the midst of overthinking, it is pushing yourself to your limits. Give yourself time. Give yourself space. Do things that genuinely make you happy. Do things that raise your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself.

It’s okay to worry, I do it, too. Things don’t always go smoothly and it’s totally normal to struggle sometimes. It’ll pass. I promise!

Whatever is going on in your head right now while reading this, please know that you’re not alone! And trust me, the things you’re worrying about right now are probably not as bad or as significant as you think they are in real life. I don’t know about you, but putting things in perspective always brings back a little bit of peace into my mind.

Sending you a big virtual hug!

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