Learning to navigate life as an overthinker

A student reflects on her tendency to overthink and how she learned to cope with it.


I’ve woken up exactly the same since I was 13: I roll over in bed, snooze my alarm and take a deep breath, knowing it’s just a matter of seconds before an ungodly amount of anxious thoughts start running through my mind. 

If I’m lucky enough, it takes a few minutes for the thoughts to rush in, but they always come no matter what I do. I think about every single task I need to accomplish during the day and how it’s going to get done, while simultaneously considering what I’m going to wear, if the weather is going to be nice and wondering if that one shirt I was supposed to hang up is actually in my closet. 

My life completely changed the day I started overthinking. I was just 13 years old and without a reason or a clear explanation, the number of thoughts in my brain tripled. It didn’t take me long to start ripping apart every single aspect of my life. I went through my day wondering if I said the wrong thing, if my friend looked at me weirdly or if my food was nutritious enough. 

The constant thoughts running in my mind were so overwhelming, and it wasn’t long until I began having frequent panic attacks. 

I was young and I didn’t know how to cope or what was happening to me, but I just wanted it to stop. I did everything in my power to suffocate the constant noise inside my brain. I blasted music in my ears, forced myself to watch every movie I could find on Netflix and most importantly, I did anything to avoid going to bed because my thoughts were worse when I was alone at night. 

It’s been seven years since my brain started overanalyzing every single detail at an unnatural speed, and even though constant thoughts still haunt me, life as an overthinker has become bearable. 

When I turned 15, I was able to recognize my overthinking after talking to my therapist and doing some online research. The thoughts still tormented me daily and it felt like there was little I could do to make things better even after all my attempts to understand what was happening to me.

I started using breathing techniques and relaxing music, and experimented with homeopathic medication, a form of alternative medicine, and journaling. 

While some of the coping mechanisms made a slight difference, nothing truly worked to fully clear my head. I was extremely frustrated because the only thing I wanted was peace of mind. It took a couple more years for me to understand that to make my life easier, the first step was to stop being afraid of my own thoughts.

I stopped looking for mindless distractions and I simply embraced every wave of thoughts. It wasn’t easy because I constantly fell back into old habits to avoid feeling overwhelmed, but I was determined to improve and get better. 

I started to develop my own system to make my life a little easier. I revisited some of the techniques I used when I was 15, mixing some of those tools to cope and embrace the way my brain functions.

With some practice, I perfected a method to handle my anxiety. I started to pay attention to all my thoughts instead of trying to shut them down and it helped me realize some of them weren’t worthy of my time. Utilizing logic and reason I was able to dismiss irrational thoughts about my relationships and my life. I understood that even though I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about certain things, I could control how much of my energy I dedicated to it. 

Thoughts about my failures, fears and were not worth analyzing. Ideas, good memories and plans for the future were deserving of my attention.  

I still wake up the exact same way: thinking about every single aspect of my life at an insane speed. However, my thoughts don’t send me into a panicked spiral anymore, and they don’t scare me to the point I have to entertain myself to prevent myself from thinking.

I have accepted the chaos inside my brain, and after years I learned to recognize which thoughts were worth analyzing. I’m now able to handle my mind and live my life as the overthinker I am.

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