Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create – Roy T. Bennett.
I have always been a distinct worrier. Fact. I always stressed about exams, about getting my homework done on time and God-forbid being asked a question in front of the entire class; I’d turn bright red in embarrassment and worry that the answer I gave would be wrong, even if I knew I was right. I’ve always second-guessed myself, something that happens far more than I’d like it to, and I genuinely think I’ve gotten worse as I have gotten older. Some of the things that I worry about can be as tiny as thinking I’ve forgotten to lock to door (I literally only have to close it for it to lock) to being a complete hypochondriac about a disease that I may have caught even though it is physically impossible for me to have gotten it.
I stress about details, about my blog, about if I’ve offended someone. I have turned from a glass-half-full kinda girl to a definite worry wart and Pessimistic Percy. I used to be extremely optimistic about life and in some ways, I’d like to think I am still, but in others I think the worst will always happen. It is hard and I get called a stress-head a lot, but it is only the stress that I put myself under. I get told I need to relax more, but when I am relaxed, my mind is in a constant string of all the things I need to do within a certain space of time and if I don’t hit that imaginary deadline, I get upset and annoyed at myself. It probably isn’t a good quality, but at least it makes me get things done, sometimes no matter what it takes.
WHAT IS OVERTHINKING CAUSED BY?
I am by no means an expert. I have zero knowledge on psychological tendencies and so I can only advise from my own experiences. I have read that there are two types of overthinking: ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. I don’t tend to ruminate about the past at all. In fact, now the only things I look back on are incredible memories that I’ve made, unless those pesky embarrassing moments pop up from the depths of my mind in which case, as with many people, I can’t stop thinking about them until I get severely distracted, or fall asleep. What is done cannot be changed and as long as it doesn’t affect my present or my future, it doesn’t really matter. Nevertheless, my type of worrying is what is the worst-case scenario? I automatically go to that place rather than the it will be fine, especially if I stop worrying and just sort it. That tends to happen quite a lot in my head.
Overthinking goes hand-in-hand with mental health. One coaxes the other and on occasion, you can’t tell which is leading which. Sometimes it is caused by fixating on an experience, a memory or a problem. Instead of dealing with how to fix it, or how to help yourself, overthinking stems from a mass of simply torturing yourself with the what ifs. On the other hand, it can stem from absolutely nothing at all. Something will pop into your head and you’ll wonder why and how it got there, and why it now won’t leave you alone.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU WORRY A LOT?
The short and long of it: you’re going to make yourself ill. It won’t just be mental illness, but emotionally and physically too. A few years ago, I lived in Spain. It should have been the absolute highlight of my very early twenties. I was living in a warm country. I went to the beach of a weekend. I got to live in the glorious summer sunshine every day. For the first three months, I was utterly miserable. I worried about being away from home. I worried about the fact that I was not as advanced as the other third year students. I cried a lot. I begged my parents to come and get me. I was seriously thinking about dropping Spanish as my combined degree and solely focusing on English Literature. It was an awful time of my life, and it showed. Physically, it showed. I lost an awful lot of weight; I wouldn’t go out and I’d stay up until 6am to watch TV shows online and so I must have looked an absolute state. My life just drained away from me. That is an extreme case. If you worry a lot day to day, it will have a detrimental effect on your outlook on life, not to mention your entire wellbeing. I cannot preach to you and tell you to change your ways, but I know from experience that worrying, stressing about things and bottling them up (I tend to do that too so I’m being a hypocrite here) is not healthy for yourself and for those around you.
HOW DO I STOP WORRYING?
I can’t answer this. If I knew the answer, I’d do it myself. I think, personally, I need to learn to try and give myself more self-love days; a little pamper session here and there, time away from work which includes being away from blogging. I need to go to a spa and have a massage, to forget about the daily stresses of life. For the times that I am thinking about something that might seem terrible, but is in fact super small (and only ballooned in my own head), I have to ask myself: is it going to matter in five years’ time? If the answer is no, I try and forget about it. This is a process I have to repeat in order to keep the overthinking and the worrying at bay. It is a good way to analyse your life and also put into perspective your drunken antics as well as the crazier times you have in life. Let’s face it, after all, we are here to live our lives to the absolute fullest and have the best time imaginable, to make our mark in the world for ourselves and our future generations. Unfortunately, worrying a lot can severely decrease that mentality.
So, if you’re a worrier like I am, think about all the things that you want to do in life. Don’t think about the negatives of such incredible moments and just live them. Think about the hilarious times that something went wrong, but they made for the better memories. The past? It’s staying there and if you’re affected by it in your present, you might have to learn to accept it and make the best of it you can. Focus your energies on what makes you happy, whatever it might be, but know that it is okay to worry, to let your mind go to that place, that it is okay to cry, and it is okay to stress about things. And then, take a breath and enjoy life as it comes, whilst making your own goals and your own happiness along the way.
How do you cope with worrying and overthinking things? What are your best ways of keeping your worries under control? Do you think it hugely impacts your life?
Love, Faye xo