Over-analysis and the impact upon your levels of stress and anxiety.
It can sometimes be hard to stop over analyzing things, especially if you suffer from stress and anxiety.
Why Do Some People Overthink Things?
Many people overthink things because they are feeling anxious or stressed, however, there can be a few more reasons why overthinking happens.
As humans, we can sometimes listen to our own negative self-talk - this can also happen when we worry about something.
If you tend to be very critical of yourself, you may find that your inner voice can take over when it comes to certain situations. For example, you may be worrying about showing your presentation at your job, this ‘inner voice’ could tell you that you will not do well, everyone will laugh at you and you’ll have to leave; this can often be caused by overthinking.
When we overthink or over analyze, our inner voice is usually drastic, negative and normally catastrophic when predicting what might happen to us in future situations. This normally is not what will actually happen, but the thoughts that you might have can seem very real and can cause you a lot of stress.
In many cases however, the individuals who are most prone to over analysis are those who spend much of their working lives, predicting and mitigating business risk, or indeed family risks. These skills (a skill can sometimes turn against you!) are gradually honed during your career. BUT when applied to your own thoughts, and without a pressure release valve or the ability to balance positive aswell as negative implications (think of a business SWOT – it must have Strengths and Opportunities to be of value!) our thoughts can become a negative and overbearing burden.
How To Stop Overanalyzing Everything
Or at least, some ideas for getting started…
- Become Self Aware
If you can become more self-aware, you should be able to recognize when you are over analyzing and be able to talk yourself out of it. This could mean trying to pay more attention to your thoughts and feelings.
If you do this, you can start to see when you overthink and why. Once you have started to see it happening, you can try to consciously talk yourself out of it and ask yourself questions.
Try and stay in the moment and ask yourself questions like:
‘How am I feeling?’
‘Do I really need to worry?’
‘What can I do to change how I am feeling?’
The aim is to be able to rationalize with yourself, understand how you are feeling, and talk yourself out of over thinking.
- Aim towards a Wider Perspective
Sometimes you can feel stuck when you are overthinking; often caught in a trap, and it can be very easy to keep this cycle going. When you find yourself in this trap of over-analyzing, pause, breath and consider how you can add some perspective to your thinking.
If you can ask yourself ‘Will this matter in 5 or 10 years time?’ or ‘Is this going to affect me in the long term?’, you may be able to stop overthinking. This is because you are making yourself rationalize the problem or situation and think about the future.
Normally, when we overthink things, it’s about something we are stressing or worrying about in the present moment, normally things that won’t matter in a years time. Putting things into a wider perspective can help you to recognize that you are worrying too much and perhaps escalating the situation.
It’s important to bring your perspective thinking quickly into your analysis of a situation – before your negative thoughts have spun out of control.
- Realize That You Can’t Control Everything
When people over think, it is usually a way that they can control things, such as their thoughts and feelings. However, some things happen that are out of our control and that is OK.
There will always be bad and good situations in people's lives and we need to recognize that we cannot control everything that happens to us, we can only control how we react to it.
When people over analyze, they usually will analyze every possible feeling or ‘what ifs’ towards the future, but when you understand that you cannot control the future, it may help you to start taking back control of your thoughts.
- Distract Yourself (Change your state – environment, company or the job you’re doing at that moment)
Sometimes all you need is a good distraction that can help you to stop over analyzing. If there is a certain situation that you seem to be thinking about a lot, try to distract yourself by doing something that you love.
This could be a hobby of yours or something to help you relax such as meditation or yoga. Using these as a distraction can be great because you can feel a lot calmer, and you may find it easier to quiet your thoughts.
Also, doing something that makes you happy will keep you feeling positive, and hopefully positive in the way you are thinking and feeling too.
There are scientific studies which evidence that a change of thought pattern and a change of physical environment, are all important when it comes to reducing stress levels. Equally – relaxation AND exercise are both ways you can reduce your cortisol production which in turn helps you to think more clearly and take a more balanced view of a situation. We often react to stress with a ‘Flight or Flight’ response, similar to many animals. And whilst your over analysis is more likely to be more aligned to a Fight response (facing our fears, so to speak), our bodies react in exactly the same way.
- Write Out Your Thoughts
Being able to write down your thoughts is a great way to become more self-aware and see how you are feeling. It may be best to write your thoughts down in the morning so that they are fresh in your mind and you can hopefully forget about them for the rest of your day.
Try to get your thoughts out onto paper, as it can help you to clear your mind and reflect. Having the thoughts written down may also help you to see whether they are rational and if you should be using your time thinking about them.
This is a great way to let go of your thoughts and feelings that are causing you stress and worry, and will hopefully help you to not over analyze so much during your day.