9 Aug 2022

When faced with a major decision — choosing a university, switching careers, buying a car, getting married or divorced — you probably think long and hard about the possible outcomes. This makes a lot of sense: A major expense or life change warrants thoughtful, thorough consideration.

But sometimes you might find you’re turning almost every thought over and over in your mind. You may be dwelling on even tiny choices and wondering about “what-ifs” so much that you become frozen with inaction. Experts call this overthinking.

It’s normal to get too “in your head” sometimes. But chronic overthinking can start to interrupt your sleep, work, relationships, health, or other aspects of your everyday life. Think you may be an overthinker? Here’s what you should know.

What does it mean to overthink?

Overthinking — also referred to as rumination — is when you repetitively dwell on the same thought or situation over and over to the point it gets in the way of your life. Overthinking usually falls into two categories: ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

If you’re struggling with overthinking, you may feel “stuck” or unable to take any action at all. It can be hard to get the thoughts out of your mind or concentrate on anything else. Sometimes, overthinking can even make things worse.

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