Our brains were developed to prioritize our safety and survival. With quick decision-making, our brains weren’t designed to critically examine and think about things too much. After all, ensuring our safety and survival through a “fight, flight, freeze, or fear” response served its purpose many years ago when we had to make split-second decisions about whether to push or fight back or flee and leave a situation to be safe. Over the years, our brains primitive functions remained the same, while our personal safety and survival needs have changed.
Today, most of our brain function doesn’t require us to think in terms of safety and survival, but often around more complex decision-making. As a result, when we think about an interaction with a supervisor, partner, or friend, we may tend to engage in overthinking, which can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, and lead to feeling “stuck.” Likewise, overthinking can lead towards avoidance and procrastination.
We all experience times in which we overthink, however, being mindful about when we engage in overthinking can lead us to taking action which is a good antidote.
Here are some tips to reduce your overthinking:
- What are some times when you don’t overthink (e.g., settings, people)?
- How do you feel when you are not engaging in overthinking?
- What does overthinking make you believe about yourself?
- What would you rather believe about yourself?
- Is my overthinking in alignment with your current values and beliefs?
- Is my overthinking leading to avoidance?
- Is my overthinking a reflection of perfectionism?
- Is my overthinking a reflection of social comparison?
- What advice would I give to my best friend who is engaging in a lot of overthinking?
- What’s a better way that I can spend my time than engaging in overthinking? What action should I take (e.g., distraction, self-soothing)?