Overthinking is one of the primary concerns that clients mention in counseling sessions with the counselors at LiveBeyond Counseling & Coaching.
“It happens usually when I’m trying to go to sleep.”
“I just can’t focus on one thing.”
“It just floods my mind.”
Racing thoughts and the infamous overthinking. We all, at one point or another, find ourselves tossing and turning in bed flooded with thoughts of our days, our to-do lists, our fears, our future plans, etc. It comes during that time when we are desperately just wanting to close our eyes and sleep. What many then come to do is make adjustments, change pillows, meditate, even incorporate melatonin into the routine yet, still find themselves without restful sleep. Queue the “I just can’t seem to make it stop” thoughts and the resulting feeling of hopelessness and despair.
The idea of not knowing what to do can make anyone feel out of control. What I have come to find is that, as easy as it is to chalk it up to “I’m just stressed but once I meet this deadline or this thing happens, I’ll be good” it’s actually a lot more difficult to explore what the overthinking is actually trying to tell us. Like any emotion, the anxiety behind overthinking is actually trying to tell us something about our worlds. It’s an attempt to try to make sense of a difficult emotion however because of the discomfort that comes with this process we tend to focus on creating solutions rather than validating the unmet need (i.e. security, validation, comfort). We would rather plan out our days with the exact times than acknowledge, “I’m worried I won’t be able to get it all done and I’ll let people down, I’ll let myself down.” We would rather take the blame for a difficult conversation or difficult string of events than acknowledge, “I’m deeply hurt by what’s happened and I feel alone in it.”
Acknowledging the need behind the overthinking can be difficult and even scary but it doesn’t have to be.
When we stop to explore what our overthinking is about, we allow our mind space to process:
- Acknowledge that you’re overthinking “I’m noticing I’m having a flood of thoughts”
- What are you most worried about? i.e. missing a deadline, falling behind in school, etc.
- Explore what the fear is about i.e. if I miss that deadline I won’t be looked at as competent
- Take a few deep breaths (3 seconds in, hold for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds-repeat 4-5 times)
- Practice SELF-COMPASSION- “I’m human and I….”
- Talk to someone- allowing yourself time to process and feel what you feel is important
The reality is, stress is a very normal and even healthy reaction to the world we live in. It’s our body’s response to feeling over stimulated, even over worked. The struggle comes when we are no longer acknowledging the amount of stress we are experiencing and forget to check in to those underlying boundaries, limits, and needs.
If you are struggling with overthinking and would like to process through the reasons why you overthink and ways to begin to limit your overthinking, please Contact us.