Here's What Happens To Your Body When You Overthink

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Here's What Happens To Your Body When You Overthink

All that excessive obsessing and rumination totally takes a toll on you physically and mentally.
Julia Ries
05:45am EST | Updated February 6, 2020

If you rehash past conversations, dwell on your choices or get trapped in a tunnel of “what if” scenarios, there’s a pretty good chance you’re an overthinker.

This widespread rumination and over-obsessing has become somewhat of an epidemic. One study from the University of Michigan found that 73% of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink, as do 52% of 45- to 55-year-olds.

Interestingly, research has found that many overthinkers believe they’re actually doing themselves a favor by cycling through their thoughts. But the truth of the matter is that overthinking is a dangerous game that can have a lot of negative consequences on our well-being.

As David Spiegel, the director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford Health Care, puts it, “There are times when the worry about the problem is a lot worse than the problem itself.”

Here’s what happens to your body when you overthink:

You’re less likely to take action

Overthinking creates so many options, choices and scenarios that you end up unable to make a decision — a concept called analysis paralysis.

“You could get stuck in potential consequences that may not even happen, just worrying about certain outcomes, and that can paralyze us or freeze us from taking an action,” said Rajita Sinha, the director of the Yale Stress Center.

If you don’t try things, you don’t fail, which may be a potential concern ― but you also don’t succeed, she added. When you do finally move forward with a decision, you might wind up making the wrong one because you got so mixed up by all the competing thoughts.

“Your gut feeling or instinct gets overridden because you have so much other input … and you maybe end up not making the choices that are right for you in that moment,” said Laura Price, a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.

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