Brains are excellent tools, but what if they work against us due to overthinking effects?
As humans, we are gifted with intelligence much higher than any other beings, and this is what has led us to where we are now, with all of our human inventions: electronics, houses, cars, literature and so on.
What happens when your brain uses you rather than you using it as a utility? What happens when your mind keeps draining your energy on unnecessary emotions, thoughts and feelings?
Must read about: Obsessive Love Disorder
Overthinking side effects
In this blog, I would like to share four dangerous side effects of overthinking and the methods I used to overcome them:
You are more likely to develop mental illnesses
According to an article published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 2013, over-analyzing your mistakes, faults, and problems increases your risk for mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Analyzing too much leads to mental damage, which leads to even more overanalyzing, causing a vicious cycle.
The first thing we need to understand is what thoughts are. Feelings of fear, anger, excitement, or happiness are all related to your thought. In fact, overthinkers are extremely anxious people. People tend to make up all sorts of scenarios in their heads about what is gonna happen. By overthinking a particular matter, one can easily be overwhelmed with negative emotions such as fear, stress, and worry.
Worrying about the future keeps you away from living in the present. You can become miserable and exhausted with too much anxiety. Overthinking effects cause you to become exhausted and sometimes depressed because emotions created by your thoughts are being caged in your life.
Additionally, feelings of anxiety may lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Yes, you can literally imagine yourself dying or on death bed.
A person with anxiety worries about the future, and a person with depression worries about the past.
Depressive disorder can be caused by illnesses or disorders as well. You become depressed by thinking about your past over and over again, which is very unpleasant. The bad experiences of some people always carry on their shoulders. People ruminate too much on situations that ‘could have happened differently,’ and it makes them look foolish.
One of the most important lessons depressed people need to learn is that they cannot alter the past. As a result of our experiences, all we can do is move forward with more wise and strengthened minds. Suicidal thoughts, and even more so suicide, can happen as well in the case of depression.
Also, Check: Major Depressive Disorder
Did you ever want to go to bed, but your mind kept you awake? You might be tired physically, but in your mind, the races are still going on. Because overthinking leads to negative thoughts.
Sometimes, you don’t have a choice but to worry about upcoming events or overthink aspects of your life late in the evening. You become more alert and awake when you think anxious thoughts, since they disrupt your body’s resting state. Tossing and turning results in poor quality sleep due to continuous tossing and turning. Additionally, if you don’t sleep well, you’re less energetic, leading to a vicious cycle of fatigue and sleep deprivation.
Some people try to force themselves to sleep by forcing themselves to stay awake, but that won’t work either. It’s impossible for your mind to control when you’re falling asleep. When you overthink before going to sleep or worrying about other things, your sleep quality will be lost, which will negatively impact both your physical and mental health.
Every single day, sleep gives us the best recovery. One of the most common symptoms is waking up around 5 AM and failing to fall back asleep, even after only four hours of sleep. Sleep occurs when you feel calm and relaxed. You will sleep more easily/naturally when you are both satisfied with your physical and mental condition.
Get complete information of: Sleep Disorders
Making decisions can be hard when you spend too much time overthinking. If you have ever pondered the possibility of something going right or wrong, then you have probably done so as well. However, you fear making the decision because something could go wrong.
You overthink about something too much, which prevents you from actually doing it, whether you are starting a business, starting a YouTube channel, or even asking a girl out for a hangover. Sure, your business and YouTube channel might suffer, and yes, she may refuse, your business might fail. You cannot make it if you don’t shoot, just like in basketball, but taking the shot will increase your chances of success.
Confidence is accepting the ‘no’ in exchange for uncertainty, rather than seeking the ‘yes’ through uncertainty. Many issues arise from side effects of overthinking, and they can be addressed through physical solutions. To calm the mind, meditation is the best method. There are also other options like exercising, spending time with friends or adjusting your daily schedules.
In my early twenties, I struggled with all of the above things. My sleep pattern was disturbed and I couldn’t eat well. It was also hard for me to motivate myself because my anxious thoughts were consuming my thoughts. I couldn’t fall asleep peacefully with those anxious thoughts; Those thoughts kept me awake and kept me going to university without sleep.
The moment I woke up, I started to tense up and could not maintain my peace of mind. I slept only 2 to 3 hours each night during that time. Exercise and meditation have been the most helpful for me. Before grabbing my phone in the morning I meditated for 20 minutes, and I jogged every day for at least 1 hour just before sleep.
Check: What is Analysis Paralysis
You might live shorter
The Harvard Medical School studied 60-70-year-olds’ brains vs. those 100+ years of age and discovered the younger population had lower levels of a protein associated with quieting brain activity. Excessive thinking causes the brain to work too hard, resulting in protein depletion. Overthinking won’t cause you to die at age 30. But overworking the brain may lead to unintended consequences you may not have been aware of.
Body’s chemical balance is disturbed
Neuropsychologist Rick Hansen claims that thinking constantly about hypothetical negative situations can reduce your brain’s ability to distinguish hypothetical stress from real stress. You can damage the brain’s emotional, memory, and feeling structures because of this chemical imbalance. Overthinking a little is not causing irreparable brain damage, but everything you do and think affects your body in some way.
It is possible to feel unable to eat at all, or to consume more food as a coping mechanism. It’s not a healthy way to deal with overthinking to eat comfort foods, which could distract you from overthinking. Large quantities of comfort foods are harmful for the body, which ultimately effects your entire health.
You lack creativity
According to Stanford neurologists, participants in a study were hooked up to brain imaging equipment and asked to draw a number of images ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. The difficulty of drawing complex images can only be explained by the fact that they require more thought. The researchers discovered that the more difficult the image to draw, the less creative the drawing was, and vice versa for images that were easier. It is a myth that thinking too much can aid your creativity. As a matter of fact, it can stunt it.
Read: How to Stop Overthinking
Social skills are affected
We often avoid social situations if we speculate more negatively about what other people think of us. You’ve probably never talked to someone because you thought they hated you or would. If you take people’s opinions about you for granted, you can miss out on a lot of social opportunities and friendships. It’s usually overthinking, not the person, that makes us act like we do.
Know when to seek assistance
The more you worry, the more likely you are to suffer from anxiety disorders, so you should seek professional medical attention if the amount of worry is interfering with your daily functioning.
Additionally, you may encounter physical symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or remembering, and insomnia. You can also develop digestive issues from excessive worrying and stress, as well as neck and shoulder tension from excessive worrying.
You should seek professional help if you are having difficulty controlling your worrying, concentrating at work, or falling asleep at night. Therapy will teach you how to not worry so much.
We don’t always realize we are worrying when we are in the middle of it. You will learn to recognize unhelpful rumination and spiraling when you practice CBT. It will be useful for you to write down your negative thoughts, then challenge or reframe them. Overthinking is best managed by developing an effective toolkit.