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Ways to Overcome Overthinking and Negative Thoughts

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Overthinking is a repetitive analysis of the situation affecting people's daily lives and well-being. Read the article to know more about it.

Medically reviewed by

Paratwar Nayana Kapil

Published At March 23, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 1, 2024


Overthinking, also known as rumination, is characterized by repetitive analysis of the situation or thinking of the same problem or person; this can become severe to the extent that it starts affecting a person's daily life. Overthinking is either ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

These people struggle with their thoughts and cannot progress with any task or make any decisions; they face difficulties concentrating or socializing. The most annoying part of overthinking is that the result is unproductive, which makes it different from stress, where a person is anxious about certain things for a short duration. Such anxiety helps him work quickly and make decisions at the earliest. Researchers state that overthinking is not okay once it interferes with the routine and affects decision-making.

What Are the Reasons for Overthinking?

  • Stress.

  • Anxiety.

  • Negative previous incidences.

  • Self-doubt.

What Are the Symptoms of Overthinking?

An overthinking individual presents the following symptoms:

  • Overanalyzing past events and situations.

  • Rethinking the decisions made.

  • Thinking of the mistakes made in the past and correcting them in mind.

  • Practicing uncomfortable conversations in mind many times.

  • Fixing impossible things or out-of-control situations in the brain.

  • Imagine the worst-case scenarios and all the possible outcomes.

  • The worries affect the present and are carried forward to the future, where the analysis and thinking continue.

  • Having the same thoughts while falling asleep.

  • Analyzing, questioning, and asking the opinions of others but not making any decisions.

  • Perfectionism and also inablity to cope up with uncertinity of life.

How Does Overthinking Affect?

As mentioned previously, overthinking is often associated with overanalyzing bad events in the past; therefore, when overthinking continues for a long duration, it is accompanied by anxiety and depression, and its physical symptoms like:

  • Fatigue.

  • Headaches.

  • Nausea.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Trouble sleeping.

  • Changes in appetite.

It can also lead to disturbed sleep patterns leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Hypertension is also common in people who overthink. These people often are loners as they fear trusting anyone and avoid socializing.

How to Overcome Overthinking?

Overcoming overthinking can be a challenge as it is not a habit that can change quickly, but the nature of a person; following are some methods that can be practiced to reduce the intensity and frequency of overthinking to the point that it does not interfere with the daily life of the person.

Accept or Deny the Thoughts: Thinking is a two-way process. Our brain generates many thoughts, but it is up to a person to accept or deny the thought; the decision can be made by analyzing the facts and questioning what is true. This helps in making decisions by not letting the thoughts overpower him.

Retrain Your Brain: The brain is considered a thinking box, and it tends to go back to its action when it is not engaged in any task or is at rest. Therefore, it is important to train the brain to relax or perform mind-clearing activities during these periods, like bedtime, before a person falls asleep.

Perform Mind Clearing Activities - Practice activities like meditation, go for walking, listen to music, read a book, take a nap.

Meditate: The meditation technique is attention training. It is mindfulness training that has proved effective in people with anxiety and depression for decades. The easiest way to practice meditation is to focus on something completely routine, such as washing dishes, cooking, or reading newspapers. These activities should be done with full concentration so that the brain is focused on them completely and other thoughts do not occur or are ignored. This can help overcome overthinking.

Ignore the Thoughts Can Be Challenging and Suggestive: Focusing on personal health and body can be very helpful in overcoming thoughts; this can be done by meditation, closing the eyes and feeling the heartbeats or breaths, feeling each point of contact with the surface, being involved in activities like dancing, and exercising regularly. This can include any activity that a person loves to do. Important technique is to work on self-compassion and self- acceptance.

Plan the Day and Keep Oneself Occupied: Planning the day is a helpful way to get the thoughts out of the head so there are no negative thoughts. This can be done by jotting down a to-do list. "Making a list or plan is more action-oriented and can calm the brain. This can be done with a piece of paper or the notes application on the phone.

Immerse in Nature: Nature has proved to be a human's best friend; studies suggest when a person is out in a natural environment, the intensity and amount of negative thoughts are reduced to a greater extent. Fresh air or a walk around nature works like magic. This effect has been noted mainly due to fewer distractions, soothing voices, and the absence of any noise or pollution. These settings have a vibe where a person, at least for a while, forgets about themselves and concentrates and appreciates something beautiful and greater than themselves and their thoughts.

What Are the Medicinal Treatments Available to Treat Overthinking?

Overthinking can be best treated by eliminating or addressing the condition's underlying cause.

The conditions that can trigger overthinking include:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - The overthinking is in constalation of symptoms of a syndrom or disorders, when one is being diagnosed with OCD and PTSD. Disorders do not trigger overthinking, but overthinking is associated with these disorders. But sometimes a truma can trigger anxiety and rumination.

There are no specific drugs available to treat overthinking; therefore, medications are prescribed to provide symptomatic relief, which include:

  • Fluoxetine.

  • Sertraline.

  • Citalopram.

  • Escitalopram.

  • Paroxetine.

  • Fluvoxamine.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are other drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. They act by controlling the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. Some of these drugs include:

  • Duloxetine.

  • Desvenlafaxine.

  • Venlafaxine.

Therapeutic methods like counseling, psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy may prove even more useful.


Overthinking is a condition that mainly develops due to stress, anxiety, or other psychological disorders but is not a psychological disorder alone. This becomes a habit over time and affects an individual's day-to-day life. The people who suffer from overthinking have compromised decision-making ability, trust issues, and no social life. Overthinking has no definitive treatment but can improve with symptomatic medications and therapies.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Overcome Overthinking in a Relationship?

Overthinking can be due to a lack of trust, which can be due to past traumas or hurt. Opening up to the partner about this is the most challenging yet most effective way to eliminate overthinking. Counting blessings and being grateful for them can also help prevent overthinking. Meditation and focusing on the present can help to overcome overthinking.


How to Overcome Overthinking as a Weakness?

Being aware that one tends to overthink is one of the most critical steps to stop overthinking. Practicing mindfulness is one way to prevent overthinking. Keeping occupied and scheduling our daily activities helps save time, which can lead to overthinking. The most important way to overcome overthinking is to understand when one is overthinking and direct thoughts to other activities.


How to Overcome Depression and Suicidal Thoughts?

Sharing depressing thoughts with a trusted friend or relative is an effective way to overcome depression and suicidal thoughts. Keeping the surroundings safe or free of tools and other sharp items away from the person helps prevent mishaps. In severe cases, help from a professional would help to overcome depression.


Does Overthinking Go Away?

Overthinking is usually temporary unless in severe cases. It is a condition that can be broken. However, it is difficult to break the habit and usually takes longer than required. Replacing or diverting the thought helps to overcome overthinking gradually.


How to Overcome Negative Thoughts During Pregnancy?

Negative thoughts during pregnancy are usually due to hormonal changes. These can be overcome by sharing them with a trusted friend or relative. Diverting thoughts, when understood as overthinking, also helps to overcome negative thoughts.


What Is the Psychology of Overthinking?

When one’s thoughts form an endless loop, it is called overthinking. It can be due to childhood trauma, hurt, rejection in the past, etc. It can be a symptom of an existing mental health condition, like anxiety disorder. Hormonal changes can cause this in women.


How Do You Trick Your Brain to Stop Overthinking?

Recognizing that one tends to overthink is the primary step to stopping overthinking. Diverting the thoughts can help. Being occupied so that there is no time for overthinking is an effective way to trick the brain from overthinking. Meditation is yet another distraction that helps to control thoughts.


Do Overthinkers Live Less?

There is no evidence that overthinkers live less. However, they lose much of the present living in the past. It can make them bitter towards someone or permanently dislike someone. It drains their energy and can cause decision fatigue.
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Paratwar Nayana Kapil
Paratwar Nayana Kapil

Psychologist/ Counselor


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