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Thinking about overthinking

Overanalysing situations and stressing ourselves out is a pretty common problem, but overthinking too much can be damaging to your mental health. Here’s how to manage it…

I overthink everything. What to say, what not to say, what I should’ve said and what I didn’t. Do I go to that party? Who’ll be there? Was my assignment good enough? What if I fail? I make mountains out of molehills- but don’t we all? Overthinking is normal, especially for students trying to maintain relationships, health, good grades and a social life. But it doesn’t have to become overwhelming. Here are some simple ways of getting yourself out of the spiral.

Stop comparing

The worst thing you can ever do is compare yourself to others. We all know the feeling of sitting in a lecture, bored out of our brains and losing the will, wondering how everyone else seems to just get it. I know it’s frustrating, but comparing ourselves to other people only makes us less proud of what we’ve achieved, so instead of worrying how others are doing, start comparing with your past self. Whether its fitness goals, mental health progress or grades, you’ll realise how far you’ve come, and I guarantee you’ll feel all the better for it.


Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and they’re not all the same.

Don’t focus on the worst outcome

When we’re stressed, it’s easy to think of the worst thing that could happen and then obsess over it. “That essay wasn’t great. What if I don’t get a pass? What if I fail the module? What if I fail the year?” We’ve all been there, but it leads us down some pretty ridiculous paths and we’re left worrying about something that will probably never happen. Instead try and focus on the best possible outcome, because it’s usually the case that your worries were for nothing anyway.


The more work you have, the easier it is to feel overwhelmed, but…

Don’t be a perfectionist

Being a perfectionist generally just leads to disappointment. Of course, there’s always that one person who gets 100% on every assignment they submit, and that’s great for them. But for most of us it’s just not possible, and setting such high expectations for ourselves often really just means setting ourselves up for disappointment. However good a 2:1 might be, you just won’t be happy with it if you wanted a first. So instead try to set realistic goals for yourself: you’ll be far more likely to achieve them, and you’ll feel even better if you exceed.

Try not to dwell

Okay so dwelling and overthinking aren’t too different, whether it’s on the future or the past. We’ve all spent too much time dwelling on one bad grade and not focusing on making the next one better. We’ve all spent too much time dwelling on the future- “what will I do after uni?” “Where am I going to work?” “What’s my degree even good for?” But it’s important to remember that no amount of thinking will actually change anything. If you get a bad grade, work out what you need to do differently next time and actually do it (don’t just think about it.) And don’t overthink the future- it’s miles away, and it’ll take care of itself.


Put it in perspective

When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself if what you’re worrying about is really that important- if it won’t matter in a year, it’s not worth stressing yourself out over now. Yes, a bad grade is unfortunate, but its only one assignment in a thousand. Yes, deadlines are stressful, but once they’re gone they’re gone. Remember that if you stress about something enough, you’re basically putting yourself through it twice, so instead of overthinking, change what you can, but accept that whatever happens will happen anyway, whether you’re worrying about it or not.