Council for Relationships

A visual representation of what it feels like to overthink.

Abigail Frank and Drew Hardister

Overthinking is the habit of applying analytical thinking and problem solving in a situation where it can be unhelpful or unproductive. Overthinking is often associated with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, problems in relationships, conflict, and other problems that can affect one’s everyday life.

As teenagers, we deal with a lot. There are class presentations, peers and teachers watching almost everything you do, different relationships with people, possible sport involvement, possible jobs, the nearing decision of choosing a college, and all the other daily stresses of life.

Overthinking can lead to other problems, including mental ones. (Soulveda)

I personally overthink about almost everything. When I’m walking in a store, I wonder if I’m walking too fast or if I look weird to other people. During soccer practice and games, I’m constantly thinking about if I should be there or not. I overthink about whether I made a good pass or if I should’ve switched the field instead of taking a shot. When I’m texting someone and they don’t respond right away, I immediately start to overthink. Things run through my head like, ‘Are they made at me?’, ‘Did something happen to them?’, ‘Are they ok?’, and ‘Are they talking to someone else about something I said?’. The worst always starts to run through my head at the first possible second.

Having the worst run through your head and constantly overthinking about everything that happens in life can be tiring and stressful. It’s also really hard. I know my friends care about me, but it’s so easy to think they don’t sometimes. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to talk myself out of it. Your brain is always going too, or at least mine is. It really is tiring. And even when you’re ready for sleep to overtake you, it doesn’t stop.

Overthinking can start from the minute you wake up to the second you fall asleep. (Medium)

In a Google Form in which 17 people responded, 100% of them said they overthink. Out of those 17 people, 47.1%, said that they overthink all of the time. The people who said they overthink all of the time, said they overthink about relationships, taking tests, schedules, school, the future, and one individual even said everything.

In the Google Form, I asked “Do you think overthinking affects your mental health or the way you view the world?” One individual who responded, Hannah, said “When I overthink things it tends to stress me out. The anxiety of not being able to do it all is damaging because I can no longer focus on anything else except for the fact that I have to finish these things.” She continued on, “It makes me have tunnel vision because I let the anxiety take over because I overthink as to how people would view my projects, appearance, personality, etc.”

The Google Form also asked for any other thoughts or opinions on the topic of overthinking. In this section, people had the ability to say anything they wanted about the subject. Hannah had the most thought through comment. She says, “I wish there was more help in our school system that deals with overthinking.” She explains that every teachers says to prioritize their class, even though students have six or seven total classes to deal with. She ended with, “It is a never ending spiral of trying to complete all the work because every grade is important. I feel so burnt out. I keep telling myself that it will be better next week, but I say it every week.”

An individual can overthink about school, work, sports, anything at all really (Strategic Psychology )

Leilani said, “Since I am constantly overthinking, I feel like it affects the way I act in public.” She continued on to say that, “I am always self conscious of what I’m doing at all times, instead of just being myself.” This ends up being a reality for a lot of people like Leilani.

Tony, said that overthinking sort of affects his mental health. When asked to elaborate he said, “Sort of because though they say it won’t happen, [but] I’ve been through it and I expect it to happen again.”

Jasmine said that, “sometimes [overthinking] does limit what I want to do. I think sometimes it is unhealthy for me and adds a lot of unneeded stress if there is not a good way to cope with it.” She also explained how overthinking affects the way she views the world. ” I think it is not as prominent but like I think there is still some fear in the unknowns of the world that occurs to overthinking.”

When I overthink it usually involves people, when I’m in a situation by myself I’m totally fine and confident. But as soon as you add another person into the equation I start to think about what they could say or think about me, the hardest part of that is not knowing if the person you’re talking to is a real friend or not.

Most of my thoughts circle around whether this person is going to talk about me behind my back or not. Living in a family of eight, I’ve learned to brush off hurtful things being said to me, to my face, but the part that scares me is if someone doesn’t like me and they decide to talk about me to someone else. Now my relationship with someone I’ve never met is tainted, and I have to work that much harder to get that person to not think bad about me.