How overthinking can play havoc with your mental health?

Trapped in your mind and unable to get out of it? Overthinking or rumination not only affects your peace of mind but increases your chances of getting depression and anxiety. Here’s what to do about it.

Are you trapped in your mind, unable to shrug off some pesky thoughts that just don’t go away, no matter how hard you try? There is nothing more exhausting than going through the same pattern of negative thoughts over and over again. Overthinking or rumination not only affects your peace of mind, productivity and ability to relax, but studies have proved that it could increase your chances of getting depression and other mental health problems over a period of time.

When you are overthinking, your mind tirelessly goes on generating a spiral of perpetual thoughts, analysing people, situation and negatively judging yourself. While the thoughts seem like a big deal to you, they are mostly insignificant and it’s possible to get out of this complex web your mind has woven, says expert.

Overthinking has many perils and it is important to work on this problem. Even though it’s not actually a psychological disorder, it can increase your chances of getting one.

Garima Juneja, Psychologist, Founder, Lightroom Therapy & Counselling, tells us how what happens when you keep overthinking over a period of time and its impact on your mental health.

You start feeling depressed or anxious

Feeling blue or depressed always has its roots in the habit of rumination. Most of the time we tend to dwell over past events, fret about current happenings, or worry excessively about the future. These all predominantly comprise of negative feelings which, if obsessed over a long time can lead to conditions of hopelessness or loss of interest in life. As a result, depression or anxiety might creep in.

You start avoiding people

Excessively thinking about social situations like our behaviour or other person’s demeanor can lead to harsh conclusions which often acts as a defence mechanism. This in the long run can lead to social anxiety, moving away from people or being a loner to protect oneself and avoid an uncomfortable situation.

Your daily productivity comes down

When we ruminate on certain thoughts, it can start affecting daily life and can result in loss of sleep and appetite, slow reaction time, missing on the present moments and opportunities, and problems in relationships and at the workplace. The real problem starts when it begins to affect daily functioning.

You end up wasting a lot of time

Rumination isn’t constructive as it’s mostly negative and leads to extreme decisions. It’s a self-defeating pattern since it leads to a loss of time, energy and sabotages the mood ultimately. Also, there is an element of “opportunity cost” involved which means the time wasted over this destructive activity could have been otherwise utilised on something constructive.

If overthinking is ruining your life, it doesn’t mean there can be no solution to it. Being aware of your problem is the key. Here’s what you should do:

* Try to recognise your thought patterns and consciously stop and say enough is enough. This can go a long way in getting rid of this vicious habit.

* Concentrating on your five senses can help a great deal to bring you back to the present.

* Emphasis on deep breaths or diaphragm breathing is another way to bring you back from the drudgery of thoughts.

* Mindfulness, the practice of concentrating on breath and being fully involved in what one is doing is the key to being in the here and now.

* The practice of keeping a journal or diary for recording the recurring or obsessive thoughts and their effect on your mood and time can shed light on the dysfunctional loop you’re stuck in.

The habit of staying in the present could not only get you out of the endless chain of thoughts but also ensure you look at the positive side of life which will improve your mental health in general.

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