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When you think too much, your brain and body race trying to find solutions to problems that may not exist.
Life could be much simpler for all of us if we simply allowed ourselves to experience existence, without having to analyze it.
Sadly, overthinking has become an epidemic around the world as our lives have become increasingly complicated. A University of Michigan study found that 73% of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 and 52% of those between the ages of 45 and 55 overthink.
You could argue that when you think too much, you can solve more problems than if you allowed your mind to relax, but research disproves this theory. Rumination often just causes more problems, because when your mind races in so many different directions, you can't think clearly.
“We are dying to think too much. Little by little we are killing ourselves thinking about everything. Think, think, think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It is a death trap. - Anthony Hopkins
Next, we'll talk about what happens on a biological level when you think too much, and tips on how to calm your mind.
SCIENCE EXPLAINS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU THINK TOO MUCH:
1 - IT COULD SHORTEN YOUR LIFE.
According to a study from Harvard University, neuronal hyperactivity could reduce your life expectancy, while thinking less can increase it. So when you overthink, you could be taking years off your life due to the stress it creates on your mind and body.
The researchers discovered that neural arousal, caused by an overactive nervous system, acts on the signaling pathway for insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in the brain.
They discovered that a protein called REST, known to regulate genes, is activated in the thought process and suppresses neuronal arousal. In animal studies, blocking REST increased neuronal activity and led to earlier deaths, while boosting it did the opposite.
Scientists found that people who lived to be 100 or older had much more REST in their brain cells than those who died in their 70s or 80s. The researchers found that in many animals, such as worms and mammals, REST suppresses the expression of genes that play a role in the excitation of neurons, such as ion channels, neurotransmitter receptors, and structural components of synapses.
Lower excitation activates a family of proteins known as forkhead transcription factors (FOX proteins) in the brain. These proteins have increased longevity through insulin / IGF signaling in many animals. This pathway is also activated by restricting calories, according to the researchers.
The implications of this research are enormous. This is because by targeting this protein through medications or mental training exercises such as meditation, people can enjoy longer lives.
2 - MAY CAUSE INSOMNIA.
We've all had those nights where we toss and turn in our beds, trying to turn our brains off and stop overthinking. However, trying not to think too much often makes it worse and we wake up feeling irritable and sleep deprived.
Not to mention, insomnia creates a vicious cycle because lack of sleep can cause increased anxiety and depression, which can lead to more overthinking. To get to the root of the problem, we must focus on the habit of rumination.
3 - WHEN YOU THINK TOO MUCH, YOU HAVE MORE DIFFICULTIES TO MAKE DECISIONS
At the heart of overthinking is the desire to control situations and predict what will happen. However, no amount of thinking will lead to the ability to know how the future will unfold, so more thinking will simply cause more anxiety.
We often create scenarios in our heads that never happen in the first place. Overthinkers want to know every aspect of a plan, and when they don't have one, they feel powerless and out of control.
When you think too much, it can lead to analysis paralysis, because you start to feel trapped by the overwhelming number of options. You would rather postpone the decision so you have time to mitigate any issues that may arise. However, this study from the University of California at Santa Barbara found that when you think too much, it can lead to poorer decision making and judgment.
Giving up control may seem difficult, but just remember that rumination diminishes your power. You spend so much energy trying to avoid problems that you have none left to address when they arise.
4 - MAY CAUSE HEADACHES
Headaches generally mean that we are nutrient deficient or need a break from thinking for a while. Many people live too long in their heads and analyze every situation to death, and this hyperactivity can lead to physical pain.
You must pay attention to your thoughts because peaceful and happy thoughts do not have the same effect as negative and self-destructive ones. Doctors say that if you are under a lot of stress, you can get tension headaches quite often.
5 - MAY CAUSE RIGIDITY IN THE JOINTS AND MUSCLES
Thoughts create our reality, so rumination can also cause physical symptoms. Analyzing situations creates stress in the body because our mind thinks that we have an immediate problem that we must solve.
Remember, our brains still think that we live in the wild, where we must respond quickly to threats in our environments. However, in our modern world, most of us do not face life and death situations very often.
Rumination leads to an increase in cortisol, which helps us prepare to respond to a threat. Sadly, in our modern world, our brains have become confused because while responsibilities can cause stress, they do not pose an immediate threat to our well-being most of the time.
When you think too much, try to see the situation from a different perspective. Is there something wrong or is your mind just creating problems?
HERE IS HOW TO STOP THE RUMIAN HABIT:
Now that we've talked about the dangers you face when you overthink, let's talk about breaking this unpleasant habit. You will find that you feel much more energetic and able to think clearly when you gain control of your brain and do not allow it to control it.
-REPLACE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS WITH POSITIVE THOUGHTS.
You really just want to think less, but it helps to start at least by making your thoughts more constructive. If you can flip the switch and simply restructure your thoughts, you'll notice that repetitive thinking decreases. It all starts with awareness. Once you notice negative thoughts, try reframing them into something better. It will take some practice, but once you do this for a while, it will become a habit.
-CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE.
Maybe your daily schedule causes unnecessary stress, and you just don't realize it. Notice what times during the day you feel the most tense. See if you can change your routine to help mitigate stress.
For example, in the morning, do you wake up and immediately look at your phone? If so, avoid unlocking it until you've showered, meditated, and had time to relax in your day. Also, don't turn on the news in the morning because it will create tension from the moment you wake up. Remember to tackle one task at a time too, because multitasking will only create more chaos in your mind.
-GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE TO MAKE DECISIONS.
Much of our thinking comes from delaying decisions. At the beginning of each day, find out what to take care of, in order of importance. If you need to make a big decision, give yourself a cut-off point so you don't spend any extra energy mulling over your options.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU THINK TOO MUCH
When we think too much, it only makes life more complicated and takes us away from the present moment. While we need to use our brains to make decisions, we must not overuse them. In today's society, we have a chronic problem of overthinking and it is devastating our health.
Our brains can serve as powerful tools, but only when we make them our teachers. Given a chance, they will go nuts and cause problems that don't even actually exist in the first place.
Overthinking can lead to insomnia, shortened lifespan, anxiety and depression, headaches, stiff joints, and trouble making decisions.
However, a clear mind provides us with the opposite: quality sleep, a longer life (potentially), better mental health, a relaxed body, and ease of making decisions. In other words, we can tap into the flow of life when we allow ourselves to let go and not overthink.
Try this for just a week and see what kind of results you get. Chill out! Just use your brain when you need to, and the rest of the time, just enjoy the art of being. Become the master of your thoughts and you will see the beauty of life unfold before you.