Under the Hood

Overthinking Does This To Your Body

Do you ever feel yourself trapped in a dozen “what-if” scenarios whenever you do a decision? Ever dwelled on your choices? Rehashed past conversations and stressed over the tiniest details? If so, then there’s a pretty big chance that you’re an overthinker, and you’re not alone.

In fact, it has become sort of an epidemic. According to a study from the University of Michigan, 52 percent of 45- to 55-year olds overthink, while a staggering 73 percent of adults aged 25 to 35 are in the same boat as well. And in today’s digital world, where we’re forced to be transparent over the image we portray in social media, it’s easy to see why.

Interestingly enough, a huge bulk of these overthinkers believe that what they’re doing benefits them because cycling through their thoughts is one way of understanding every situation from different points of view. With that in mind, studies show that at the end of the day, overthinking is still unhealthy, and doing so puts your well-being at risk.

So what happens when you do overthink?

Well, for one thing, you fall into analysis paralysis, which stops you from doing any action.

“Your gut feeling or instinct gets overridden because you have so much other input … and you maybe end up not making the choices that are right for you in that moment,” Laura Price,  a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, said .

Another study from the U.K. also reveals that when you overthink, you’re less likely to be creative, which can lead to “mental ruts” or even create mental roadblocks that in turn will make you overthink more, complicating the process.

Furthermore, because you’re using brain power, you also get easily tired. However, the catch is you also get less sleep since you spend waking hours shuffling through a lot of thoughts.

Per experts, the best way to stop this is to be aware you’re overthinking and to do something that can take your mind off of it. Talking to a friend, loved one, or even therapist can also help.

Stressed Brain The study found a link where people with the highest cortisol levels tended to have a lower total brain volume and performed worse on their thinking ability tests. Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash

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