As trauma survivors, many of us deal with a very real roadblock on our healing journey: overthinking. I’m sure you’ve probably had those moments… You find yourself dwelling on one thought or problem for a really long time. Rumination becomes obsession as you analyze every aspect of the situation again and again until you’re so anxious and overwhelmed that you can’t do much else. One thing is for sure- overthinking can be a major problem.
Why is overthinking such a common problem for trauma survivors?
Trauma literally changes who you are and the way that your brain works. When you go through something traumatic, it usually affects the way that you see yourself and the way that you see everything around you. Things like safety and comfort no longer feel easily attainable and your mind goes into overdrive to figure out how to get them back. But there are a few reasons that come up again and again when it comes to why trauma survivors tend to have a problem with overthinking.
- Fear of re-experiencing trauma: The possibility of experiencing similar traumas in the future has us constantly worrying and trying to figure out all of the ways we can prevent it from happening again.
- Difficulty processing emotions: After trauma, we can be very overwhelmed with emotions that can be difficult to process. This leads to overthinking and analyzing every emotion because we want to understand it better.
- Lack of control: One of the biggest side effects of trauma is feeling helpless. This feeling can carry over into other areas of our life, leading to a constant need to control.
- Negative self-talk: Negative self-talk and self-doubt are also very common side effects of trauma. Overthinking our actions, decisions and abilities becomes normal to us because we often blame ourselves for what happened to us.
- Hypervigilance: After experiencing trauma, women tend to be on high alert so that we can be ready for anything that might come our way. This means overthinking every possible outcome that might occur so that we can be ready.
What can we do to overcome it?
Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as deciding you want to stop overthinking. Like all areas of trauma recovery, it’s going to take work. But I do have a few tried and true techniques that might help. It’s important to remember that everyone processes and is effected by trauma differently, so different methods are going to work better for different people. Hopefully you’ll give a few different methods a try and find one that works for you. (And if you’ve got one that isn’t listed below, please feel free to leave it in the comments or shoot me a message! Always looking to add more tools to the mental toolbox!)
Our brain does tend to remember more of the negative than the positive, so I like to make sure I outnumber the negative with a lot more positive.
So since I gave you five reasons we tend to overthink things, I’m going to give you 15 possible things to try to counter it.
- Practice mindfulness: Try to stay present in the moment and focus on your senses.
- Challenge your thoughts: Question how true your thoughts are and whether they are helpful or unhelpful.
- Set boundaries: Create limits around the amount of time and energy you spend thinking about certain topics. Use a time to stop yourself from obsessing.
- Get moving: Exercise can help reduce stress and clear your mind. Flood your brain with natural happy chemicals!
- Practice self-care: Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Write it down: Journaling can help you process your thoughts and emotions in a judgement free zone.
- Talk to a trusted friend or therapist: Sharing your thoughts with someone can provide a fresh perspective and support.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Deep belly breathwork and meditation can help you slow things down.
- Stay organized: Create a to-do list and prioritize tasks to help reduce feelings of overwhelm. Try to declutter your surroundings for a calmer mind.
- Avoid perfectionism: Focus on progress, not perfection. No one will ever be perfect and you will only set yourself up for failure by trying.
- Challenge your assumptions: Don’t assume you know what others are thinking or what will happen in the future.
- Focus on what you can control: Identify what you have control over and let go of what you can’t control.
- Take breaks from social media: Disconnect from technology and focus on real-life interactions. Remember, you can’t believe everything you see on social media. Be intentional with who you follow and what you allow into your mental space.
- Engage in creative activities: Painting, drawing, or crafting can help distract your mind from overthinking. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the benefits.
- Practice self-compassion: Be kind and understanding towards yourself and remember that overthinking is a common experience. Be patient and give yourself grace as you work towards overcoming it.
Need additional support?
Head on over to my facebook group, from thriving to surviving. This community is a safe place where you can connect with others who have experienced similar struggles and share your journey towards healing. Share your stories, seek advice, and find support from this growing group of compassionate and understanding women on a similar path. Let’s move forward together.
You can also feel free to message me for more information.
You matter and you deserve to be happy.
Don’t let your brain try to convince you otherwise.
And if you are a visual person and need a little reminder not to overthink things, I’ve got these cute little stickers in my etsy shop!
Check out some of my other posts here. And don’t forget to subscribe for some awesome freebies and discounts!Want to connect further?