Strategies for Coping with Excessive Thoughts
It’s been 15 minutes since my boyfriend didn’t text me back. Why would he do that? Is he taking me for granted now? Is he seeing someone else? Is he getting even with me over last month’s fight.... Sounds familiar? It is called excessive thinking, which is majorly useless and not uncommon. If you too are coping with excessive thoughts, this read is for you.
Excessive thinking comes uninvited, it lasts longer than it should, and it leaves you worried, anxious, and mentally exhausted. You have racing thoughts that may also be repetitive in nature and will often leave you overwhelmed. And it’s not necessary that everything you are thinking excessively about just one thing. It could be a thing, a person, or several things, situations, imagined situations, anything under the sun.
In the end, all this overthinking is doing that one terrible thing to you—making you anxious, disconcerted, overwhelmed.
Is this what you feel like?
● Your mind goes from 0 to 100 in a few seconds.
● You can’t seem to control the progression of thoughts, especially negative.
● Your focus is on the excessive thought and not on what your focus should be on.
● You hastily head to worst-case scenarios.
● You have difficulty falling asleep or relaxing because your mind is racing 24*7.
The problem is that you don’t even plan on coping with excessive thinking because well, you don’t think that you overthink. It is mostly others, your friends, family, colleagues etc., who catch on to this. But when they do and ask you not to overthink, don’t overthink on that too. Rather head to find ways to cope with it.
What Causes Excessive Thoughts?
There could be a number of reasons why you mind races the way it does. I’ll list out the major possible reasons here.
Anxiety, the No. 1 Cause
Funny as it may sound, anxiety is both a cause and a symptom of overthinking. It is a common sight that your head will race wildly when you have an anxiety attack. Such episodes of excessive thoughts may even precede or succeed moments of anxiety.
ADHD is so common given our current lifestyles. We probably eat more than we can chew, we spend our precious me-time staring at our screens, we are insecure about so many useless things like Instagram likes, all in a day. The result, ADHD, characterized by a deficit of attention, too many thoughts muddling up your mind, and no single train of thought.
Severe Agitated Depression
A type of severe depression is wherein one feels agitated instead of lazy and low is agitated depression. There is anger, restless, angry, and impulsiveness. This is another condition where the mind races and coping with excessive thoughts becomes almost impossible.
Learn more about depression and ways to cope with it in my book Destruction Cycles. Available at McNally Robinson and on Amazon.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Alright, you probably do not have OCD until your psychiatrist confirms. If you have the problem of excessive thinking, don’t delude yourself into believing that you have obsessive compulsive disorder. Those who do have OCD may find obsessive thinking a part of their personality. The only solution in this case is usually therapy + medication.
Strategies for Coping with Excessive Thoughts
While in case of depression and OCD, seeing professional help may be the best option, there are simple things you can do for coping with excessive thinking in other cases.
Bringing Back the Normal Breath
As you realize that you are on your way to overthink, or have already shot off on a thinking mission, the quickest way to call yourself back to the normal is by focusing on your breath.
● Measured (counted), conscious deep inhaling and exhaling helps in bringing back consciousness of mind.
● Do it till racing thoughts are gone.
● When that happens bring back your breath to normal.
It calms the central nervous system and helps it function at a normal pace. It will help you focus your concentration on the breath, thus bringing back your mind.
Reducing Stress Before Sleep
Coping with excessive thoughts is perhaps the most difficult when you are in bed, waiting to fall asleep. One of the reasons is that you are stressed with the burdens that you have been bearing the entire day. The idea is to relax the mind, so it can induce sleep.
● Go for a digital detox starting 2 hours before bed-time.
● Don’t start using your phone or watching movies/shows if you can’t fall asleep.
● Do not drink coffee at night or late in the evening.
● Keep alcohol away.
● Try guided meditative sleep. Hundreds of free audios are available online.
Try a Quick Activity
Jogging, coloring, painting, writing, a ping-pong game (no, not video games; remember, screen-time won’t help you)—quick activities like these can really help bring your mind to the moment.
Find something that makes you feel calm and fulfilled. That will be your quick activity to help you in coping with excessive thoughts.
Talk to a Professional
While overthinking is not a mental illness, professional help can still do wonders in training your mind and sensibilities, thus helping you cope.
I wish you rapid healing and a swift recovery. To stay in touch please subscribe below!
Karen Litinsky MpsyD RMT
Author of Destruction Cycle
Co-Creator of Ego-Less meditation app ()
Owner of Paradise of Reality ()