We all go through periods of overthinking. Perhaps we're heading for a tough event at work and can't we can't stop imagining what might go wrong and how we might look.
Alternatively, maybe we go through a painful breakup and we spend hours trying to imagine how we could have saved the relationship.
Anything that feels overwhelming or activates anxiety can send us into repetitive and excessively complicated thinking.
Unfortunately, this usually just keeps us stuck, making us focus on the negatives. But what if you're extremely prone to overthinking?
Is there anything you do to change the way you look at the world?
In this guide, we aim to help to take the first steps towards the end of anxious overthinking.
Beginning with an overview of why we over-think and what it involves, we'll ultimately offer you three powerful strategies you can use to break out the cycle.
Why Do We Overthink And Does It Cause Anxiety?
So, let's start with the most basic question: what causes negative thinking and overthinking? We mentioned above that these issues can be triggered by things that make us feel insecure or overwhelmed.
However, what is it that makes us think overthinking can help us deal with such anxiety and insecurity?
In short, these types of negative thoughts often relate to a desire to take control. In our minds, we imagine that overthinking will keep us safer.
We think we might be able to anticipate all possible outcomes, and that if we can do so then we won't get hurt.
For example, if you're going to give a presentation, you might think that imagining all the ways your audience might humiliate you can stop you from actually being humiliated on the day.
And, in the breakup scenario, you might hope that analyzing everything about the relationship will help you orchestrate a reconciliation or find the perfect partner in the future.
In sum, then, overthinking is basically an attempt to take control. In reality, however, it tends to exacerbate our anxiety. We start to overestimate the likelihood that bad things will happen to us, and it undermines our self-esteem.
Is It Normal To Overthink?
Perhaps you're thinking "Yes, but why do I overthink so often?". Despite the above description of how overthinking undermines well-being, read assured that it is entirely normal.
If you tend towards overthinking, then you're like most people. Even in the most confident people, stress sometimes triggers overthinking, anxiety, and attempts to regain control.
In the face of uncertainty, it's natural that our brains attempt to take in all possible information and try to protect us from harm.
It is only when we examine this tendency in more depth and start to consider other strategies for coping with stress that we start to see how unhelpful overthinking is.
Before we look at some such strategies, however, let's take a moment to explore the contrast between anxiety and overthinking, and to canvass some of the main reasons for overthinking.
Anxiety Vs. Overthinking
Overthinking and anxiety are tightly connected. It's rare that we over-think without feeling anxiety, and it's rare for the anxious person not to experience an urge to over-think.
But are anxiety and overthinking really just the same thing? Not quite.
One helpful way to think about this comparison is to view overthinking as one possible response to anxiety.
If you're anxious, you probably also experience physical symptoms (such as sweating and a racing heart), and other mental tendencies (such as downplaying your agency, and viewing yourself as undeserving).
In addition, there may also be times when your anxiety doesn't lead to overthinking.
For example, you might become too paralyzed to engage in overthinking, perhaps because you're having a panic attack. So, it is more accurate to say that overthinking is one possible symptom of experiencing some kind of anxiety.
With this distinction in mind, let's move on to a more specific discussion of the kinds of things that trigger overthinking.
Reasons For Overthinking
We've already looked at one or two examples of overthinking in passing. However, examining more examples can help us to get a more comprehensive grip on what causes overthinking.
Briefly, here are some common reasons why you might find yourself analyzing a situation to death:
- Concern about repeating a past mistake, whether at work or in your personal life (e.g., giving a poor job interview, offending someone on a date, or becoming too attached to a friend too quickly).
- Entering an unfamiliar situation in which you don't yet have proof of success or competence (e.g., joining a new work environment or a new class).
- Previous trauma that has left you under-confident about your own judgment (e.g., not knowing when to assert your needs after you've been in an abusive relationship).
- Dealing with a phobia (e.g., having to fly, give a public speech).
However, overthinking can crop up in any situation where you feel anxious and out of control.
The Effects Of Overthinking
Now, let's move beyond the initial experience of overthinking to its long-term consequences.
Firstly, if you're prone to overthinking and find yourself asking "Why do I always think negatively?", this is no surprise. Overthinking tends to make us see the bad in all situations.
Instead of feeling excited or anticipating chances for growth, overthinking teaches us to live in fear. Consequently, it can hold us back from becoming our best selves, instead of tempting us to stay in our comfort zone.
Secondly, and relatedly, we tend to enjoy lifelessness if we're overthinking. This may be partly because we look at life as a series of new problems, instead of living in the moment.
There are also real physical consequences to overthinking. You can end up struggling to sleep, and then suffering the low mood and low energy associated with sleep deprivation.
Meanwhile, being in a high state of stress causes excess production of cortisol - the stress hormone. Spikes in levels of cortisol are connected with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis (i.e., brittle bones).
Finally, many of us are tempted to deal with stress and anxiety in unhealthy ways.
So, the overthinker may end up relying on drugs, alcohol, or food in order to feel better.
How To Stop Overthinking And Relax
At this point, you have a picture of what overthinking involves, how it connects to anxiety, when it's likely to crop up, and how it affects your body.
But what can you do about all of this?
Can you develop a happier, healthier way of looking at the world? The good news is that there is proof that you can leave overthinking behind.
We'll now turn to three particularly effective strategies that you can try if you want to learn how to stop overthinking things.
You're likely to get the best results if you practice all of these in conjunction, at least to begin with.
Be Aware Of When You’re Doing It
One strategy for bad habits is to increase your awareness. In this case, the suggestion is that you try to become more tuned into your overthinking.
One way to do this is to keep a log overthinking - to simply make a quick note every time your mind turns in this direction.
This stops overthinking from spiraling out of control, creating a "choice point" at which you can try to actively change your thinking.
Healthy distractions can be very useful here too. Try to come up with five things you can do if you're overthinking, to completely change gears.
Examples include exercise, reading fiction, listening to music, or changing your environment.
Practice Self-Love And Trust Yourself
As you'll have noticed in the above examples, there's a strong connection between overthinking and low self-esteem or a lack of confidence.
Consequently, it makes sense that working on self-love and trusting yourself can help you kick the habit of overthinking. Of course, this is a tall order, but there are certain reliably effective. things you can do.
- Practice affirmations. Tell yourself positive things about how you see yourself and say them into the mirror at the start of the day.
- Consider therapy to explore why you struggle with self-love. Understanding the roots of difficulties with confidence can help you reject outdated, unhelpful beliefs.
- Consistently make time to take care of yourself. If needed, schedule this into your day, and plan to use that time doing nothing but healthy things that make you feel good.
- Practice loving-kindness meditations, which encourage positivity toward yourself and others.
- To trust yourself more, make a list of all the times when you were right about something - when you trusted your gut or got to the truth before anyone else. This is evidence of your reliability.
- Self-love and trust don't develop overnight, but a combination of the above can go a long way toward making you see yourself as strong, worthy, and capable.
How Can You Use Hypnosis To Stop Overthinking
In short, hypnosis puts you into a deeply relaxed state so that you can change your thoughts and feelings. Whether you do this with a hypnotherapist or through self-hypnosis recordings, relaxation hypnosis can help to stop you from overthinking.
It can reduce anxiety, calm your mind, and help you trust your own judgment.
If you've not tried hypnosis before then you might not really understand how it works or what to expect, but in reality, it's a very simple and effective form of alternative therapy.
To close, let's look at what to expect from self-hypnosis for anxiety and overthinking, and explore how it can change your life for the better.
Benefits of Using Self-Hypnosis For Anxiety And Overthinking
During self-hypnosis for anxiety and overthinking, you'll first be led into a deeply relaxed state that is similar to how you might feel during a mindfulness exercise. Once you're in this state - called a hypnotic trance - the hypnotherapist will make statements about your beliefs.
You'll be told that you don't need to overthink. That you trust your own judgment. That you are confident in dealing with new things. You may also be asked to visualize yourself happy and at peace, not overthinking.
The reason that this process works is that hypnosis is able to get around all of your conscious defenses.
In order words, hypnotherapy bypasses all of the critical, anxious parts of your brain that work overtime trying to protect you from imagined harm. Your subconscious takes on the suggestions make during self-hypnosis, and your thoughts and feelings begin to change.
And another major benefit of self-hypnosis for overthinking is that it can be done at any time and in any place - you set the schedule.
Sometimes just within one session, you will find that your mind is quieter than usual. Life will seem less frightening, and you will have more faith in your own capabilities.
It's hard to overstate how important it is to be at peace with yourself - to feel relaxed, happy, and at ease.
However, the benefits of self-hypnosis go beyond ending your habit of overthinking. As a result of hypnotherapy, you'll find that you have more energy for other things.
Instead of replaying things you've said and done (or things you might do!), you will feel able to simply make decisions and move on.
When you're not overthinking, it's also easier to extract important lessons from difficult experiences.
You can stop berating yourself, instead dispassionately noticing what you could do better and moving on without judgment.
Use Self-Hypnosis To Stop Overthinking And Relax Your Mind
Now that you've learned about the effectiveness of self-hypnosis for overthinking, why not try it today?
Our "Stop Overthinking" program aims to help you relax in all areas of life. It's a quick, effective, and easy way to finally change your life for the better.
It is tailor-made for people who find themselves replaying the past and feeling paralyzed when facing new decisions. We understand just how exhausting it is to feel that way, and we want to help you feel better - starting today.
As a bonus, you may find that dealing with overthinking also helps with anxiety more generally. A more relaxed mind is one that is better able to live in the moment, truly enjoying life instead of being trapped in constant worries.