NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Tips on How to Stop Overthinking

What is Overthinking?
Overthinking, which is also called rumination, is when you dwell on the same thought, feeling or situation over and over again. 

When overthinking is habitual, it can be disruptive to your life.

How to Stop Overthinking

Overthinking usually falls into two categories: Ruminating about the past or worrying about the future (see my article: Tips to Cope With Chronic Worrying).

Engaging in habitual overthinking is unproductive and can make you feel stuck. 

How to Stop Overthinking

For instance, if you're trying to make a decision and you continuously ruminate about it, you might find it increasingly difficult to make the decision and miss an important deadline (see my article: Fear of Making Decisions: No Decision Becomes a Decision in Time).

When Does Overthinking Become Unhealthy?
Overthinking can become unhealthy when it:
  • Prevents you from taking action
  • Interferes with your daily life
  • Creates stress in your life
  • Has a negative impact on your sense of well-being
What Are the Signs of Overthinking?
  • Having the same recurring thoughts, worries or fears over and over
  • Getting stuck in imagining worst case scenarios
  • Replaying a negative event from the past in your mind over and over again
  • Repeatedly worrying about a future event
  • Getting stuck in negative thoughts so that you have difficulty concentrating on anything else
  • Continuously rethinking decisions you have already made
  • Being unable to move on to the next step in a decision-making process because you're stuck ruminating about steps you have already taken
How Are Cognitive Distortions Connected to Overthinking?
People who engage in cognitive distortions tend to engage in overthinking (see my article: How Psychotherapy Can Help You Overcome Cognitive Distortions).

How to Stop Overthinking

Cognitive distortions include but are not limited to:
  • Overgeneralizing: Making an assumption that things will always be a certain way based on few examples
  • Mind Reading: Believing you know what someone else is thinking without any evidence
Why Do People Engage in Overthinking?
Some people are more prone to be overthinkers than others.

Perfectionists and overachievers are often overthinkers. This is often due to their need to be perfect and their fear of failure (see my articles: Overcoming Perfectionism and The Connection Between Perfectionism and Shame).

Is Overthinking Connected to Other Mental Health Issues?
Overthinking isn't a mental health disorder, but it's often connected to:
How is Overthinking Connected to Stress?
High levels of stress can lead to overthinking among people who have a tendency to overthink situations.

How to Stop Overthinking

Overthinking, in turn, can create a high level of stress, especially when people feel stuck in a pattern of rumination and worry.

Basic Tips That Can Help You to Stop Overthinking
In my next article, I'll focus on a particular tool called a pattern interruptor (see my article: How to Use Pattern Interruptors to Stop Overthinking).

For now, here are some basic tips for overcoming overthinking that might work for you:
How to Stop Overthinking
  • Keep a Journal: Journaling helps you to become aware of the particular issues you ruminate about so you can begin to see your specific pattern of overthinking.
  • Get Perspective From Close Friends: People who know you well are probably aware of your tendency to overthink things. You can get feedback from them in terms of what patterns they have noticed in you.
Seek Help From a Psychotherapist

  • Seek Help From a Licensed Mental Health Professional: A skilled psychotherapist can help you to stop overthinking. Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who has an expertise in helping people who tend to engage in overthinking.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist

I work with individual adults and couples.

One of my specialties is helping clients to overcome trauma (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.