Overthinking is defined as spending more time thinking about something than is necessary or productive.
As an HSP, we tend to overthink, and this is also one aspect of the HSP Trait others might find difficult to relate to.
And friends, family, colleagues may offer: “you think too much,” but as we know, it is not as simple as turning a switch on or off.
It can be challenging for HSPs to turn it down or turn it off completely.
Overthinking can certainly make us feel anxious and perhaps self-critical if we are contemplating something negative.
In some circumstances thinking things through can be of benefit; examining all aspects of a potential new place to live would be wise for an HSP—location, infrastructure, countryside setting, or city neighbourhood, level of crime, even the position of the building itself in relation to sun/light, noise.
And at the other end of the scale, there are certainly times when you can overthink something that might not even happen.
So what’s going on, and how can we deal with this?
The D of DOES stands for Depth of Processing, the HSP acronym for characteristics present in HSPs formulated by Dr. Elaine Aron.
So as an HSP, you will naturally be a deep thinker.
The E of DOES mentioned earlier refers to Empathy and Emotional Intensity.
So empathy for others may lead you to people-pleasing but not before you may contemplate whether you prefer not to go to an event versus letting a friend down for declining.
Another common tendency of HSPs is to be a perfectionist, with a level of self-criticism for good measure.
Perfectionism can also lead you to examine things repeatedly to avoid making any possible mistakes while aiming for the highest possible standards.
As an HSP, on occasion, you will likely overthink to the point of exhaustion.
Depth of processing can be a tiring aspect of the trait. Simple thoughts may develop into thoughts including your past, the present, and the future.
The HSP “joke” is that you never have a single thought; it’s always very many thoughts and a few completely unrelated ones for good measure.
So how can you deal with overthinking? Here are some solutions.
1. Self Care
I feel that everything radiates out from here.
If you’ve read about the HSP trait, you’ll know self-care is right up there in importance.
Aspects of the DOES are tiring, and you need to fine-tune yourself as a consequence.
I’m talking about basic diet choices; sleep; being aware of and reducing/eliminating alcohol intake, drugs including caffeine, regular exercise.
And being kind to yourself on the days you may have the odd relapse.
Looking at your mental health is the next logical step.
2. Any past traumas?
As part of the natural evolution, after discovering you are an HSP and learning more about the trait, dealing with any past traumas is something to consider.
It can be beneficial to look at your past through your new HSP lens.
According to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk: “hiding your core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy and saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals.”
Although not essential, enlisting the help of a therapist will allow you to communicate fully in a safe space.
3. Emotionally Balance
If you’re still with your therapist, this could be the next aspect to work on.
We all take some beliefs from our childhood that may limit us in some way.
You will know if you react more emotionally than rationally in a given situation.
Looking at this can help you resist the triggers you have and become more emotionally balanced as a result.
Consequently, you will have less chance of a misunderstanding with someone or even a more severe conflict.
HSPs can quickly start overthinking when their behavior and others are involved.
“Did I upset them?” “Could I have said it differently Even: “Will they want to see me again?”
These are the thoughts that can occur when you’re emotional without checking out logically if they are true.
Remember, as a general rule, we frequently interpret what someone’s words or actions mean in a completely different way to what was meant by them.
Also, in the toolkit for dealing with any level of trauma, practicing yoga can help an HSP focus on the present.
While simultaneously allowing you to be in touch with your body, it’s perfect for your mind and body and is a natural aid to minimizing overthinking.
There are many online possibilities and perhaps some classes reopening after the pandemic, depending on location.
Another related practice to have in your toolkit, meditation, in my view, is the go-to for quelling those intrusive thoughts.
It is a calming way to pull yourself into the present and can be done almost anywhere when the need arises.
It is a practice, so it may not be something you find natural, but persevere, and you will get there.
There are apps available for your phone and many guided meditations online.
Journaling won’t be for everyone, yet it can be a great way to silence overthinking.
When you catch your overthinking, take out your pocket notebook and write down your thoughts.
Again this is something you can do almost anywhere.
Some do this first thing in the morning to start the day off, others just before bed, to calm the mind before sleep.
If you are creative in other ways, doodling may work for you, coloring, painting, or even writing a few bars of your new musical score as ways to express your thoughts.
It’s all about getting your thoughts out of your mind.
Have you tried using any of these six ways to deal with overthinking?