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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Goff

Is it possible to stop overthinking?

October – wow, time really does fly when you are having fun!! But seriously how is it October already? October means; cold, wet, miserable, dark, lonely evenings all of which lends itself nicely to the topic of this month’s blog – OVERTHINKING. Now I am going to ask you to be honest with yourself and as a collective, let’s all be honest together, overthinking is a trait that affects us all. Spiralling negative thought patterns that attack our brains and which we allow to completely control it, time and time again, depriving us from the joy of enjoying life and living every single moment, as if it was our last, leaving us in constant fear and anxiety of the future and the unknown, imprisoning us in the cells of pessimism and only ever expecting the worst, even when there is that little tiny glimmer of hope. If you answer yes to any of the following;

1. Are you someone who spends the vast majority of their time in their head thinking about every incident that does or might happen?

2. Do you create different scenarios in your head and focus on “what ifs”?

3. Do you obsess about or over-analyse regular experiences and interactions?

4. Do you read into things that aren’t actually even there?

5. Does social media give you anxiety making you constantly worried about what people posted, their comments on your posts, whether your pictures are ok or not?

Then yes - you are definitely an over thinker!

Here are some ways you can get rid of this habit which may be taking over your life;

1) Acceptance: accept and acknowledge that you have a problem and that it is the main reason of your discomfort. If you don’t admit that your overthinking is a problem, you will never be able to fix it.

2) Stop Assuming: do not overthink and make assumptions about the true meaning behind certain acts or words. Assumptions will not lead you anywhere and will probably give you a much worse picture than reality.

3) Create Distractions: try to distract yourself by keeping busy with activities i.e. meet friends, socialize with your family, go out, watch a movie. Anything that can take your mind off the topic you are over thinking about is a great distraction.

4) Avoid Toxic People: remove negative and toxic people from your life, especially those who cause you to overthink in order to meet their expectations, people who make you feel bad about yourself or make you feel that you are not good enough. You do not need this kind of energy in your life; cut it off and walk away.

5) Practice Extreme Sports: choose sports that push your limits; jogging is nice but running as fast as you can is amazing. Do martial arts; it will help you stay focused on your goals.

6) Read: inspirational books that would blow your mind; do not give your brain time to think about things that happened in the past. Make it think about new stuff, about the universe and the stars, about love and hate, war and history, science and religion. Do not allow it to overthink about people and actions; it will not lead you anywhere.

7) Forgive Yourself and Let Go: not forgiving yourself leads to a lot of self-blaming and scrutinizing all your actions and reactions. You must accept that we all make mistakes and that it’s because we fall that we learn to stand up again. Let go of the past; know that not everything is under control all the time. There will be times when things will go out of control and it is OK. Breathe, watch, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Do not overthink it; just let go.

On the note of letting it go - I started to read “The Gift – 12 Lessons to save your life” by Edith Eger, Auswitchz survivor, and I cannot put it down, only a few pages in, I have already learned so much. I cannot recommend highly enough. In it she states many true and inspiring lessons we should all adapt to our lives but what really resonated with me was when she said that; “The prison is in your mind and the key is in your pocket”. And what I took from this was; we all have a choice how and what we think which affects how we feel and behave, which encourages us to dig deep to find our inner strength and make a choice, one that is right for us. We need to remember that; “It is not what happens to us that matters most, its what we do with our experiences” and overthinking takes away from our experiences. So, lets take back that control and use that key to unlock a happier, healthier mind and therefore more positive thought patterns.

For many of us it's a curse that we can't seem to break, but, overthinking is actually really bad for your health.

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that excessive brain activity could lead to a shorter life. Researchers used a sample of people ranging in age from 60s and 70s and compared their brains to those who lived to be 100 years or older. The results showed that those who died at younger ages had significantly lower levels of a protein called REST, which quietens brain activity. In short, excessive thinking causes excessive brain activity, leading to a depletion in the protein REST. REST itself has also been studied and results determined that it can protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

So, there's something extra to think about while you're replaying arguments from five years ago in your head tonight.

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