Can you die from overthinking
Merely using your brain will not kill you. However, if you think you think too much, you might want to try not-thinking for a change. It’s called meditation. No… not unless overthinking leads you to suicide.
As human beings, we are very good at solving problems with few variables. Basic tasks like doing laundry, preparing a meal or driving to the store are examples of this. We are also very good at solving problems with countless variables. Complex music, intricate works of art, architecture or software are examples of this.
However, we are poor at solving problems with anything in between. For example, most of us struggle to solve a problem with more than three variables without a pencil in our hand!
This is where much of the angst of an overactive mind arises. Our minds work extra hard to try to solve a problem with many different variables, that is sufficiently complex to be confusing and frustrating, but not so utterly complex as to allow our minds to tap into our full creative potential.
In the business world, the term analysis paralysis is used to describe this tendency to overthink things. In our everyday lives, it’s witnessed as mental tension, stress, and laziness.
At a basic level, overthinking everything is unpleasant and keeps you from moving forward and making progress. At an extreme level, overthinking utterly and completely shuts you down and causes severe anxiety.
It is super important to understand that if you have a tendency to overthink things, you are simply being human. There is nothing wrong with it. We are hard-wired to constantly seek solutions to problems. We also must understand that we can use our own intellect and mental function to identify when we are “spinning our mental wheels” in vain and get out of this thought pattern.
There are tangible and simple ways to stop overthinking everything. Review the list below and the next time you find yourself caught up in your thoughts, apply just one of the techniques below to free yourself from the chains of overthinking. You are bound to find relief from stress and just might discover a creative solution to your problem in the process.
Overthinking and the negative emotions that result from it can be hard to neutralize. A while ago I witnessed this first hand, as I struggled to cope with the loss of my beloved dog and best friend, Spike. After he passed, I was in pain for many days. I felt broken inside and my mind was spinning, thinking of all the things I could have done to have kept him healthy longer.
Speaking with my mom, she told me something that completely changed how I felt. She reminded me that as I am grieving, I cannot forget that there is someone else in my life that needs my care and attention.
When I am in the middle of complex tasks and find myself overthinking things, I often shift to small and simple tasks that require less mental horsepower. For example, I will do the laundry, mow the lawn, pay some bills, walk my dog.
Doing a bunch of simple tasks gives me a feeling of success. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. It also teaches my brain to solve and finish problems. When I return to the complex task (e.g. creating a presentation, preparing for a coaching client meeting or writing on this blog), I find that I am able to stay focused without any mental stress. My brain is primed and ready to finish the task, complex or not!