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Science Says This is What Happens to You When You Overthink Everything

Ruminating isn’t the same as problem-solving.

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BY Amy Morin - 25 Apr 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Whether you beat yourself up for a mistake you made last week, or you fret about how you're going to succeed tomorrow, overthinking everything can be debilitating. Your inability to get out of your own head will leave you in a constant state of anguish.

Of course, everyone overthinks a situation occasionally. But if you're a true over-thinker, you'll struggle to quiet the constant barrage of thoughts all the time.

Overthinking is more than just a nuisance--studies show thinking too much can take a serious toll on your well-being.

Here are the three dangers of being an over-thinker:


1. It increases your chances of mental illness

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology reports dwelling on your shortcomings, mistakes, and problems increases your risk of mental health problems.

And rumination can set you up for a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Ruminating wreaks havoc on your mental health. As your mental health declines, you're tendency to ruminate increases.


2. It interferes with problem-solving

Research shows over-thinkers believe they're helping themselves by rehashing their problems in their heads. But, studies show analysis paralysis is real.

Overanalyzing everything interferes with problem-solving. It will cause you to dwell on the problem rather than look for solutions.

Even simple decisions, like choosing what to wear to an interview or deciding where to go on vacation, can feel like a life-or-death decision when you're an over-thinker. Ironically, all that thinking won't help you make a better choice.


3. It disturbs your sleep

If you're an over-thinker you likely already know you can't sleep when your mind won't shut off.

Studies confirm this, finding that rumination and worry lead to fewer hours of sleep. You'll be more likely to toss and turn for hours before you drift off.

But, sleeping later may not help because overthinking also impairs the quality of your sleep. You'll be less likely to fall into a deep slumber after you've been thinking about the same thing over and over again.


How to Stop Overthinking Everything

Whether you've put off buying a house for 10 years because you can't find the perfect one, or you struggle to be productive because each choice you make takes up too much of your time, overthinking can drag you down.

But, the good news is, you don't have to be an over-thinker forever. You can take steps to stop overthinking everything. Using new strategies and developing new skills can help you make good choices in a timely manner with less distress.

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