World Thinking Day: 6 ways overthinking affects your mental health

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Written By Margonoe Tumindax

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Do you dwell in your sorrows and overthink to the point of depression? Beware of these side effects of overthinking that might do your mental health more harm than you think.

Persistent negative thoughts can trap you in a cycle of distress and anxiety. We tend to overthink occasionally, but dwelling over minor issues can make it hard to keep your mind calm and focused. This pattern can severely impact your peace of mind, and as you lose your peace of mind, you tend to overthink. This is how overthinking can trap you in a vicious cycle that is not easy to break. Moreover, research indicates that overthinking isn’t merely a nuisance, it can also detrimentally affect your overall well-being, including your mental health.

Health Shots got in touch with mental health expert Aashmeen Munjaal to find out how overthinking takes a toll on our mental health. Munjaal says, “The effects of overthinking on one’s physical and mental health can be severe. It causes greater anxiety and reduces cognitive capacity, making it tough to perform daily tasks.”

6 ways overthinking affects your mental health

1. Difficulty concentrating

Overthinking can overwhelm the mind, making it challenging to focus on daily tasks. Constantly replaying scenarios or worrying about the future can grab all your attention, leading to decreased productivity and impaired cognitive function. You may even find yourself unable to concentrate on work or even simple activities.

Also Read: 9 Japanese techniques to put a full stop to overthinking

2. Depression

Overthinking is often related to negative thinking, and prolonged exposure to such negativity can contribute to exhaustion or depression. If you also find yourself dwelling over past mistakes, failures, and future risks, you are at risk of feeling hopelessness and worthlessness. Over time, this feeling can lead to depression.

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3. Fatigue

The mental pressure caused by overthinking can drain one’s energy, leading to chronic fatigue and lethargy. Munjaal says, “This persistent fatigue can impair daily functioning, disrupt sleep patterns, and exacerbate other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.”

4. Anxiety

Overthinking is closely linked to anxiety, as excessive worrying about the future or potential outcomes can trigger anxious thoughts and physical symptoms. This can even result in panic attacks or other anxiety-related disorders. This can trap you in a cycle of fear, impacting your quality of life.

anxiety
Anxiety can make your mental health worse. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Irritability

The constant mental instability and negative thoughts associated with overthinking can make individuals more prone to irritability and mood swings.
Munjaal explains, “Overthinking makes you vulnerable. Due to this, you may even react to small things, leading to disproportionate emotional health. Over time, chronic irritability can strain relationships and exacerbate feelings of stress.”

Also read: Want to stop yourself from overthinking? It’s time to try yoga!

6. Disruptive thoughts

Overthinking can wreak havoc on sleep patterns, making it difficult to quiet the mind and achieve restful sleep. “Racing thoughts and worries increase, especially at night, preventing individuals from falling asleep or causing frequent awakenings throughout the night. This can result in sleep deprivation, fatigue, and impaired daytime functioning,” according to Munjaal.

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7 tips to stop overthinking

1. Listen to music

Music may be a powerful mood enhancer that can help put a full stop to unpleasant thoughts. Playing soothing or lively music might help you relax and change your focus.

A girl listening to music.
Listening to music can impact your mood in many ways. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Talk to someone

Talking to a family member, or trusted friend about your worries might help you get a new perspective and support. This will also help reduce the sense of confusion and problems that are making you overthink things.

3. Spend time in nature

Nature provides a calm space, which can help relax your mind. Spending time in nature, whether it be through a lakeside, a walk in a park, or just sitting there, can help reduce stress and overthinking.

4. Go for a walk

Physical activity, particularly walking, stimulates endorphin release, which can elevate mood and reduce stress.

5. Deep breathing

Deep breathing exercises cause the body to go into relaxation mode, which calms the nervous system and improves mental clarity. Include deep breathing exercises in your everyday practice to help you control your overthinking when under pressure.

6. Focus on solutions

Instead of concentrating on issues, turn your attention to solutions. Overthinking can be reduced when one focuses their concentration on fixing problems.

A workaholic
Find a solution for your overthinking and improve your mental health. Image courtesy: Freepik

7. Take a nap

Sometimes, overthinking is a result of mental fatigue. A quick nap can act as a reset, giving the mind time to relax and rejuvenate.

Follow these tips and say bye-bye to overthinking!

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