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Anxiety and Overthinking Everything

Anxiety and overthinking tend to be evil partners. One of the horrible hallmarks of any type of anxiety disorder is the tendency to overthink everything. The anxious brain is hypervigilant, always on the lookout for anything it perceives to be dangerous or worrisome. I’ve been accused of making problems where there aren’t any. To me, though, there are, indeed, problems. Why? Because anxiety causes me to overthink everything. Anxiety makes us overthink everything in many different ways, and the result of this overthinking isn’t helpful at all. Fortunately, anxiety and overthinking everything doesn’t have to be a permanent part of our existence. 

Ways Anxiety Causes Overthinking

An effect of any type of anxiety is overthinking everything. There are common themes to the way anxiety causes overthinking. Perhaps this generic list will remind you of specific racing thoughts you experience and help you realize that you’re not alone in overthinking everything because of anxiety.

  • Obsessing over what we should say/should have said/did say/didn’t say (common in social anxiety)
  • Worrying incessantly about who we are and how we are measuring up to the world (common in social and performance anxiety)
  • Creating fearful what-if scenarios about things that could go wrong for ourselves, loved ones, and the world (common in generalized anxiety disorder)
  • Wild, imagined results of our own wild, imagined faults and incompetencies (all anxiety disorders)
  • Fear of having a panic attack in public and possibly thinking that you can’t leave home because of it (panic disorder with or without agoraphobia)
  • Worrying about a multitude of obsessive thoughts, sometimes scary ones and thinking about them constantly (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Thinking — overthinking — a tumbling chain of worries, vague thoughts, and specific thoughts (all anxiety disorders)

Result of Anxiety and Overthinking

With anxiety, not only are these thoughts (and more) running through our brains, but they are always running through our brains, non-stop, endlessly. Like a gerbil hooked up to an endless drip of an energy drink, they run and run and wheel around in one place, going absolutely nowhere. Day and night, the wheel squeaks.

Over-thinking everything is a horrid part of anxiety disorders. Over-thinking everything creates more anxiety. This tip helps stop over-thinking. Check it out.Anxiety and overthinking everything makes us both tired and wired. One result of the thinking too much that comes with anxiety is that we are often left feeling physically and emotionally unwell. Having these same anxious messages run through our head everywhere we go takes its toll.

Further, another dangerous result of anxiety and overthinking everything is that we start to believe what we think. After all, if we think it, it’s real, and if we think it constantly, it’s very real. Right? No. This is a trick anxiety plays. Anxiety causes overthinking, but with anxiety, these thoughts aren’t always trustworthy.

You have the power and the ability to interfere in anxiety’s overthinking everything. It’s a process that involves many steps, but a step you can take right now to slow down that gerbil is to have something with you or around you to divert your attention. Rather than arguing with your thoughts or obsessing over them, gently shift your attention onto something else, something neutral. By thinking about something insignificant, you weaken anxiety’s ability to cause you to overthink everything.

I explain this further in the below video. I invite you to tune in.

Let’s connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of four critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges as well as a self-help book on acceptance and commitment therapy. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

157 thoughts on “Anxiety and Overthinking Everything”

  1. Hi Tanya,
    I’m getting sooo tired of my brain. I constantly am stressed out about things I have to do like going to piano practice, or presenting something. I overthink things and it makes it hard for me to sleep. The amount of stress and anxiety that I get from little things is overwhelming. I can come across as awkward to people at school. I am a normal person, but in conversations, when I want to say things, the words won’t come out because I think to much about what people might think if I say it.
    Please give me some advice. Thx!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I like your comment about being sooo tired of your brain. 🙂 I’ve felt that way before, too, especially around social anxiety. I have a few thoughts that you might want to consider. I definitely understand what you mean when you say you can come across as awkward. Your thought is legitimate, but it might not be accurate. We tend to look at the world and interpret others from our own biased perspective. If you feel awkward, it makes sense to you that others think you’re awkward. That’s known as mind-reading, and it’s very common in people who have anxiety. It’s common in everyone, actually, but when someone has anxiety, this mind reading happens more often and is much more bothersome. It’s impossible to know what others are thinking, even when we’re reading body language and other non-verbal communications. Anxiety skews that, too, and we tend to read into posture, tone, and more. A good strategy is to accept that you don’t actually know what people are thinking. When you start thinking about how others are judging you, simply admit to yourself that they might not be thinking about you as awkward at all.

      Also, try giving yourself permission to talk when you want to talk and be quiet when you want to be quiet. I’m not sure if you do this, but I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to talk, to say exactly the right thing, and to carry a conversation — and when I did these things, I worried that I said the wrong thing or came off as obnoxious. Once I gave myself permission to stop doing this, to say something if I wanted to say it and just listen to the conversation if I didn’t want to say something, my anxiety decreased and I found it was easier to participate in conversations. Doing this was a matter of reminding myself and practicing. And time. It took awhile to change, but when I accepted this as a process of forward movement, it was better.

      Something really big that can be underlying your anxiety is the stress you mentioned with your schedule and to-do projects, etc. Have you made a list of everything that’s on your plate? Get it out of your head and onto paper where you can see it. You might feel overwhelmed by it at first, but it’s a way to take charge of things. Are there things, even the smallest things, that you can eliminate? What do you love the most? There is where to put most of your energy? What things do you dislike but have no choice but to do (homework in certain classes, for example). How can you balance these in without letting them consume you? Can you talk to your parents about reducing or eliminating some things? Are you taking breaks? Those times when you feel like you can’t take a break are the times when you need it the most. Even a five-minute brisk walk outside or a few minutes of slow, deep breathing will help you destress and then work more efficiently.

      I tried to find a balance here of not being too long but also giving some basic thoughts. I hope this helps a bit! You’ve got great awareness of your brain and what’s going on with your life. Not everyone has this awareness. It’s great that you do because you’ve identified what you want to change. Your ready to find and employ strategies. Be patient with yourself as you do!

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in Anxiety-Schmanxiety Comments

  • Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
    Hi Rachel, I like your comment about being sooo tired of your brain. :) I've felt that way before, too, especially a...Anxiety and Overthinking Everything
  • Jaelyn
    Thank you for making this, you have given me information that I didn't know before. Now I don't feel as bad about hav...Anxiety and Personality Type
  • Rachel
    Hi Tanya, I'm getting sooo tired of my brain. I constantly am stressed out about things I have to do like going to p...Anxiety and Overthinking Everything

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