Thoughts are powerful, and as the famous American teacher, Peace Pilgrim, once said, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”
Overthinking is a growing psychological problem that has exponentially increased over the past few decades. It is a toxic behavioral pattern that can consume your mind and ruin your reality. But the fact that no one is born an overthinker is comforting. It is a trait that can be unlearned with expert help and guidance. We asked leading psychologist and behavioral therapist Dr. Ketam Hamdan, for tips to overcome overthinking.
According to Dr. Hamdan, overthinking causes mental health to go down in a vicious downward spiral. It involves obsessive over repetitive thoughts or themes that interfere with other forms of mental activity.
As an expert on human behavior and a performance coach, Dr. Hamdan has outlined four steps that anyone suffering from overthinking can follow.
- Start with identifying the thought and the underlying fear. Overthinking mostly stems from underlying fears or worries. Your best chance of thwarting it is to identify the “emotion” that causes it, such as fear, anxiety, depression, lack of safety, and work on sitting with the emotion. You have to name it to tame it.
- Write down the worst outcome that can happen: this may seem counterintuitive but keep reading it. Facing your fears head-on can make them seem less monstrous, so this could be of great help!
- Make a list of positive outcomes that can happen: this will help you to challenge the thought and pick the most realistic & attainable outcome from this list.
- Take action: interrupt any further overthinking through simple things such as a mindful walk. Research has proven that even a 5-minute physical movement can send an influx of feel-good endorphins to the brain and take your mind off the exhaustive thought process.
Overthinking can sometimes lead to emotional paralysis and worsen to the extent that it requires expert intervention. Dr. Hamdan further recommends anyone unable to cope with overthinking on their own to talk to a mental health professional. She adds that if it is left untreated, the stress associated with overthinking can cause physical symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and insomnia.
Dr. Hamdan provides treatment to clients with overthinking disorders and other mental health conditions at her private clinic in Houston. She is the founder of Brain Health Center and the Managing Director of Annisa Mental Health: a non-profit organization that works with Muslims in crisis. She provides psycho-education presentations across the community, trains other therapists on effective techniques, and works with clients in her private practice. Education is the key to treating mental health problems, and Dr. Hamdan is working in every way to raise awareness around the matters related to connecting the brain, heart, and body for total well-being.
As a successfully licensed therapist, she has also ventured into creating empowering content on her social media platforms. Check out her Instagram to know more about mental health topics.