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Why Overthinking Is a Bad Way to Solve Your Problems

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about why overthinking is a bad way to solve your problems. So your mind is a little bit like a muscle. We, of course, want to use it regularly. We want to use our minds to plan our goals and the steps to move towards them, to figure things out, solve things and learn things.

But like any other muscle in our body there is a point where working at more is really just unhelpful, even painful and damaging. Just like overexercising, overthinking can really end up being quite counter-productive. In fact research shows that overthinking, which most commonly comes in the forms of rumination and worry, often leads us down the path towards anxiety and depression. So Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a Yale professor who has spent her life studying overthinking calls it the secret to unhappiness.

She notes that the more we engage in overthinking, the more miserable we tend to become. So what we really want to start to get good at is recognizing anytime we're getting stuck in overthinking, especially when we are ruminating or worrying. And then once we've recognized that we want to choose a more empowering, a more helpful way forward. So start to try to catch yourself in those times when you notice that your mind is racing. It's just sort of tossing a problem around like a broken record or when you start to feel more and more worked up and stressed as you continue to think about something for hours or days or even weeks.

And whenever you notice that habit of overthinking, you catch yourself, just mentally noting to yourself, ah, I'm overthinking. So mentally noting in this way helps you step back from the thoughts and let them go. Then commit to constructive problem-solving instead. Constructive problem solving is where you make a deliberate time to just sit and think clearly about the different options and possibilities. Then, if possible, you make a decision or a plan, and after that, you just leave it.

Right? So conversely to that, rumination and worry, is when you just toss around a problem in your head without any true intention to solve it in that moment. It really isn't helpful or useful to continue doing that all the time. All it does is make us really stressed and anxious and kind of mentally cluttered so we actually can't solve our problems when we can't think clearly. So if this makes sense to you, resonates with you and you want to try this in your life, just every time you find yourself overthinking, just remember catch yourself, mentally note, and then commit to making a time for constructive problem solving instead. You might be able to do that immediately in the moment or you can set a time to do it later.

After you set that time or do it in the immediate moment, you can let everything go knowing that you have a dedicated time to work things out and right now you can be in peace. So by letting go of overthinking, you'll be able to solve your problems more effectively and maintain more inner peace. You can take action on the things that matter, let go of the things that don't and be more present to enjoy your daily life. I hope this is helpful for you. And as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here.

Let's settle in for meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

Why Overthinking Is a Bad Way to Solve Your Problems

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about why overthinking is a bad way to solve your problems. So your mind is a little bit like a muscle. We, of course, want to use it regularly. We want to use our minds to plan our goals and the steps to move towards them, to figure things out, solve things and learn things.

But like any other muscle in our body there is a point where working at more is really just unhelpful, even painful and damaging. Just like overexercising, overthinking can really end up being quite counter-productive. In fact research shows that overthinking, which most commonly comes in the forms of rumination and worry, often leads us down the path towards anxiety and depression. So Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a Yale professor who has spent her life studying overthinking calls it the secret to unhappiness.

She notes that the more we engage in overthinking, the more miserable we tend to become. So what we really want to start to get good at is recognizing anytime we're getting stuck in overthinking, especially when we are ruminating or worrying. And then once we've recognized that we want to choose a more empowering, a more helpful way forward. So start to try to catch yourself in those times when you notice that your mind is racing. It's just sort of tossing a problem around like a broken record or when you start to feel more and more worked up and stressed as you continue to think about something for hours or days or even weeks.

And whenever you notice that habit of overthinking, you catch yourself, just mentally noting to yourself, ah, I'm overthinking. So mentally noting in this way helps you step back from the thoughts and let them go. Then commit to constructive problem-solving instead. Constructive problem solving is where you make a deliberate time to just sit and think clearly about the different options and possibilities. Then, if possible, you make a decision or a plan, and after that, you just leave it.

Right? So conversely to that, rumination and worry, is when you just toss around a problem in your head without any true intention to solve it in that moment. It really isn't helpful or useful to continue doing that all the time. All it does is make us really stressed and anxious and kind of mentally cluttered so we actually can't solve our problems when we can't think clearly. So if this makes sense to you, resonates with you and you want to try this in your life, just every time you find yourself overthinking, just remember catch yourself, mentally note, and then commit to making a time for constructive problem solving instead. You might be able to do that immediately in the moment or you can set a time to do it later.

After you set that time or do it in the immediate moment, you can let everything go knowing that you have a dedicated time to work things out and right now you can be in peace. So by letting go of overthinking, you'll be able to solve your problems more effectively and maintain more inner peace. You can take action on the things that matter, let go of the things that don't and be more present to enjoy your daily life. I hope this is helpful for you. And as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here.

Let's settle in for meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

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