A woman stares into the distance, a look of worry on her face

How to stop over analysing

by Eharmony Editorial Team - December 13, 2011

Do you have a washing machine head that goes over and over conversations, events and situations, real or imagined? Do you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, unable to concentrate fully in the day and generally distracted by the repetitive thought patterns? If so you may be suffering from over analysing.

Over analysing affects many people and can interfere with the normal running of their daily lives. Sometimes it is a symptom of depression or obsessive compulsive disorder but it can occur on its own. The symptoms can include include nagging repetitive and racing thoughts; being hypercritical toward yourself or others; feeling generally stressed and troubled sleep patterns. It can be difficult to determine what is causing your over analyzing, but with the help of some simple techniques, you should be able to break the habit.

Ask if you want to know the answer

If your over analysing tends to be centered around relationships because you are feeling insecure then give your poor, tired brain a break and ask the person whatever it is that you need to clarify. It may be that you are trying to mind-read or second guess how a date is feeling. You may be wondering if they want to see you again; if they were upset by something that happened on one of your dates or if you offended them by something you said. If in doubt the best thing to do is ask. If your head is still obsessing try some of the suggestions below.

Get active

Because over analysing is often the result of an idle mind one of the best ways to counteract it is to get busy with your body. Taking part in a physical activity when you are tempted to return repeatedly to an issue can help break the thought pattern. Exercise will not only help clear your mind but will also raise the level of endorphins pumping through your body. Your mood will be enhanced and because your attention has been distracted for a period it can help break the process. According to research a half hour brisk walk can be as beneficial as an hour of therapy.

Let go

Sometimes we get into an over analysing pattern because there is a situation we need to address and we are looking for a solution. We may play a mental tape of a conversation, date or other uncertain situation over and over again. We do this primarily for two reasons; we are looking for clues as to the outcome of an uncertain situation ie. will our date want to see us again? or because we are struggling to accept our own part and are rewriting what we said or did. This often leads to us beating ourselves up because the more we pick it apart the more ridiculous it looks and by the time our date does call we have convinced ourselves that it’s all over anyway.

The only way to deal with this type of mental activity is to LET GO. Some people find it helpful to write down whatever is worrying them and put it in a jar. The act of writing helps get it out of your head and putting it in the jar creates a sense of separation. You will be amazed how many things that get put in the jar get resolved by themselves once you let go of them.

Relax before bed

Night time is often the worst time for over analysing. Many people can’t get to sleep or wake in the middle of the night and there it is, over and over on that repetitive loop. One way to help prevent this is to make sure you fully relax before going to bed. Turn the TV off, put on some relaxing music, notice your breathing and have a warm drink – caffeine, alcohol, loud music and violent or disturbing TV programmes – all create mental activity which will make it harder to get to sleep and more likely that you will wake in the middle of the night as your brain is so stimulated.

Count your blessings.

Another effective way of winding down before bed and sleeping in a peaceful way is each night before bed repeat the phrase “I am thankful for…” and list everything you are thankful for in your life. This way, your mind will be busy with positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts and you will sleep better. Some people like to write down their gratitude lists and again it can help to make those thoughts more dominant than negative worrying ones.

Get outside help if necessary

Although we all suffer from over analysing to some degree if you feel it is seriously affecting your life you may benefit from seeking the help and support of a professional trained in this area. Your GP will be able to advice you of where the best help is available.