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Are you overthinking?

Published on 13th Octover 2020

Have you ever been told that you’re overthinking? What exactly do we mean by that? I’ve come across an article suggesting that there are three forms of overthinking. The first two  -worrying over the future & ruminating over the past – resemble two fears: the fear of uncertainty and the fear of regret. This caught my attention.

Worrying over the future: the fear of uncertainty
A few weeks ago, Rachel from Overcoming MS asked me a couple of questions for a blog post (click here to read blog). One of the questions she asked was whether MS had helped me handle the new pandemic situation. I explained that personally, one the hardest aspects of being diagnosed with MS had been the lack of certainties. I still remember all the questions popping up in my head all the time: What will happen? How will MS affect my work? My family life? Will I be able to keep working? Will I be able to finish my PhD? 
Similar uncertainties can arise as a result of covid-19 pandemic. Being faced with these uncertainties before, I felt a bit better prepared than people who never had to face such ‘life-changing’ situations. But I’m now wondering – should I say over-thinking? – whether we can ever feel really prepared in front of uncertainties and stop worrying about the future.

Ruminating over the past: the fear of regret
been. But knowing is one thing. Accepting and not ruminating over it is another. Meditation has helped me a lot in this regard and I find is easier to stop ruminating over past than worrying over the future.

Overthinking over solutions to present-day problems
This is the third type of overthinking that above-mentioned article identified. But this is in our own nature! So even if there’s no tangible problem, we’ll find one: How do I find meaning? How I can ever run a marathon? There’s nothing wrong with any these questions as long as they don’t eat away our peace of mind.

My toolkit
What should we do when we need a break from this overthinking? We all have our own tools. Here is my list:
– Yoga as focussing on the breath and sensations makes overthinking impossible
– Exercise to release endorphins and feel good
– Meditate to learn not to get ‘hooked’ on thoughts
– Reframe problems as challenges to look on the brighter side
– Repeat my mantra ‘Don’t think of what could go wrong, Think of what could go right!’ It works!
– Write and put down thoughts on paper to release them
– Spend time in Nature and be amazed at its beauty and creativity
– Talk to my dogs because they know how to focus on the present moment!

When I shared my list with my husband, he advised me to try another one: walk barefoot for 5 to 10 min a day. 
I’m now going to walk the dogs down a rocky path. It’s been really hot this week and the ground is super dry, sprinkled with sticky burrs and prickly things. Let’s see how this goes.

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