This post is all about overthinking mental.
As much as we talk about mental health at Knockoff Therapy, we also have to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes, we’re not being fair and we need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we think about ourselves and our mental health.
We never want to shut down conversations about mental health, but chalking the issues in our lives to mental illness can become debilitating. We lose our power because we don’t understand how to approach our mental health issues from a useful perspective.
So, let’s talk through the ways that we overthink mental health so that we can improve our lives right now and re-center the conversation from “what’s wrong with my brain?” to “how can I make my life work for me right now?”
This post is all about overthinking mental health.
OVERTHINKING MENTAL HEALTH:
1. Constantly worrying about every little detail of your life
It’s normal and understandable to worry about every possible detail in your life, but, in the end of the day, it takes more than it gives. It takes your energy and you get nothing out of it because you can’t predict which details in your life will be the actual causes of future pain, if any.
Focus on the details you can control and focus on how you feel about your life. Odds are you’re focusing on how others think of you, and you will never really know what others really think—plus, it doesn’t matter.
2. Obsessively ruminating on past mistakes or failures
We all makes mistakes. It’s a fact. The people who you believe don’t make mistakes are likely instead people who can move past them. Instead of defining yourself based on a mistake or failure, you should think about what you can learn and take that forward.
Your mistake and failure has already happened. There’s no changing it or undoing it, but you can do your best to learn and grow from those mistakes and failures instead of overthinking mental health.
The biggest challenge when you make a mistake or fail is learning to live with that and understand that that’s part of you. It’s inevitable, so you might as well prepare yourself with coping mechanisms for the next time and accept that you’re going to fail as a part of life.
3. Over-analyzing your thoughts and emotions
As much as it sucks, sometimes we just get sad or mad or annoyed. We can have bad days that really are just bad days. There are times when we get triggered and our emotions are really based in trauma that we’ve experienced.
But, we have to also accept that bad days happen. Instead of figuring out the cause behind it or ruminating too much on what did it cause, it’s more useful to cope with it. Plan out your bad day routine so that you change your expectations of yourself and focus on getting through it.
4. Being overly self-critical and judgmental
Negative self talk sucks. But, it happens. So, the key is to train your brain away from those negative impulses. If you screw up, you should definitely take responsibility for that and learn from it. But, you don’t have to beat yourself up mentally for that for days to come.
When you notice a judgmental thought, acknowledge it. Once you get in the happen of noticing them, you can start to disagree. It’s almost guaranteed that these thoughts aren’t accurate because they are so negative, so talk back.
Overtime, the more you practice this, the more you’ll get used to thinking positively and having an accurate understanding of your reality.
To be clear, positive thinking is about reacting to what actually is happening around you rather than the much worse reality your brain is making you believe.
5. Feeling guilty or ashamed for having certain thoughts or feelings
We are not our thoughts. When I first heard that during a guided meditation on the Calm app, I wanted to believe it, but I didn’t understand what that meant.
So often, when we have a mental illness, we associate our thoughts with us and constantly fight them because we need to be in control of them. However, we need to change how we think about the stuff in our heads and do less of overthinking mental health.
We are separate from our thoughts and they don’t define us. So, when we have thoughts we wish we never had, we have to understand our thoughts are only thoughts. They only exist in our heads until we do something to change that and act on them.
6. Becoming overly fixated on symptoms of mental health disorders
Like everything, there’s pros and cons to mental health information being so readily available to anyone anywhere online. We can start awesome conversations that change the way people approach their lives because they learn about themselves.
But, we can also over diagnose ourselves and explain all our “negative” traits as symptoms of a mental illness because we want to explain them away. Or worse, we justify our mental illness symptoms by saying that we have this or that mental health disorder, so we change how we act.
Clearly, there’s some truth to this and mental health treatment is not readily available. But, we also definitely need to acknowledge that we can cope with our mental health issues to an extent and we shouldn’t hide behind them to get away with our actions.
7. Constantly seeking reassurance from others about their mental states
People need reassurance as a result of their childhood, mental illness, or other factors. And it’s important to honor those needs when you’re in a relationship (romantic or platonic) with someone like that.
But, at a certain point, we also have to acknowledge that, if we’re in a healthy relationship with someone who cares about us, we have to trust them. Anxiety lies to you, depression lies to you, and, honestly, many mental illnesses lie to you.
That’s scary, especially when you start to lose a sense of reality because of the lies you hear on a daily basis. That’s when ask you friend or partner or loved one and you believe them.
Open up to them about your struggles, but do so knowing you’ll have to trust what they say as best you can. It’s a work-in-progress. As long as you communicate with them, you will be fine.
8. Second-guessing every decision you make
We, at Knockoff Therapy, are the queens of indecisiveness and overthinking mental health. We totally get the “Okay, I’ve made my decision… but, what about this?” Or even “I’ve made this decision, but I didn’t think about this.”
Remember what we said about mental illnesses being straight up liars? This applies here, too. When you’re making a big decision, you likely already which decision you’ll make and yet you can’t settle on it because it may not be the right one. (It is, trust us.)
Here’s a quick breakdown for you: when you’re debating a big decision, you likely already know the answer and need to accept it. When you’re debating a small decision, it’s probably not even worth debating because it won’t affect you long-term so choose an option. (Or flip a coin to learn what you really think.)
9. Being afraid to seek help or support for fear of being seen as weak
No matter how hard we work to normalize mental health and mental health treatment, we have to acknowledge the stigma. Depending on your identity, the stigma might be a greater for you as a person of color or man.
This is one we can’t talk you out of or do our best to provide you with resources. Instead, we have to acknowledge this stigma and tell you that getting help is one of the best things you can do for yourself instead of overthinking mental health.
Your life will fundamentally change when you acknowledge the pain and trauma built into your life, especially as relates to mental illness, and decide you want to work through that for a better you. It’s a process and it’s painful, but it’s worth it as we hope you’ll find out.
10. Feeling like you have to constantly be doing something to improve your mental health
When you have a bad day, if you’re reading Knockoff Therapy or other mental health resources, you’ll probably think “I have to fix this.”
But, the truth is sometimes letting yourself have a bad day or feel emotions or not be the most perfect, mentally healthy person you know is self care in its own right.
You’ll read all our posts about how better to yourself, but the fact of the matter is you’re also allowed to take a breath and not constantly wonder what you need to do be doing right now, on top of everything else, to improve your mental health.
Having a bad day sucks but shaming yourself while having a bad day sucks more.
11. Overestimating the impact of minor events on your mental state
Sometimes, no matter how much we tell ourselves otherwise, stuff is just stuff. The events that happen in our lives can be nothing more than the events in our lives. Spilling our water after we interviewed for a job is not a sign; it’s a coincidence.
Your sister sending you “K” instead of “Okay :-)” might mean that she’s busy rather than annoyed with you. There are tiny events that happen everyday that we either accept as meaningless until someone gives them meaning or we worry over them unnecessarily.
12. Becoming overly concerned with labels and diagnoses
Labels give people identity. That much is true within the LGBTQ+ community, in which labeling your sexuality is liberating for some. For others, it’s an extra layer that puts them in a box they never signed up for by being who they are.
Labeling yourself as anxious or depressed or bipolar might help you to cope with the symptoms of your mental illness. They could also mean that you obsess over what it means to be labeled or diagnosed; you might be afraid to tell people. You might think you’re doomed (you’re not).
You might also search for labels and diagnoses that aren’t right for you because you need something to explain how you feel. Make sure you save diagnoses for mental health professionals to save your own sanity avoid overthinking mental health.
13. Focusing too much on what others think of your mental health
Two facts to start you off: 1) you can never be sure what someone thinks about you and 2) you can’t change what they think about you.
Yes, you can ask them, but you’ll never be sure if they’re telling the truth. And, yes, you can try to persuade them, but you can be sure you ever did. So, focus on what you can control: your awareness of your own mental health, coping mechanisms, and personal growth.
As hard as it is to get other people out of your head, we have to accept that stressing about other people takes up way too much our energy and it really doesn’t lead to anything.
14. Feeling like you have to be in control of every aspect of your mental health
We think about mental health all wrong. Rather than thinking we need to be in control, we should start thinking about we can work with our mental health to live the kind of life we want.
The fact is it’s incredibly difficult to control mental illness, and even more so without professional help. Medicine and therapy can make it easier, but we need to compassionate with ourselves when we think about our overthinking mental health.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re already doing great. And you also deserve a break from needing to control your health.
15. Overloading yourself with information about mental health to the point of confusion or overwhelm
Mental health is an overwhelmingly large topic that you can research for years and still have questions about. The significance of the research comes from putting it into practice and developing coping skills to manage overthinking mental health.
Without guidance, however, this is a lot. You can get a lot of information in a short span of time that will be enough to make you feel powerless. You’ll have lots of tools at your disposal without really remembering them or knowing when to use them (recalling them when do know).
Know that when you’re feeling overwhelming, you owe it to yourself to take a step back.
16. Becoming overly focused on one particular aspect of your mental health while neglecting others
Everyone has one aspect of their mental health that’s easier to treat than others. Or it could be that you don’t want to deal with another aspect and that’s why you choose to ignore it.
This especially common with hygiene: think eating, drinking, showering, etc. Maybe you’re busy and you don’t want to make food, so you eat snacks. Eating snacks makes it harder to focus and you end up having to move your study session so you can take a nap.
This an example of a good practice (self care) in the place of a necessary practice (eating food that will fuel you).
17. Expecting immediate or complete solutions to mental health challenges
Your mental health habits and issues likely took years to solidify if not decades. So, unlearning harmful habits and improving your mental health will take time, too. The worst part about personal and mental growth is you have to get through the pain before you feel good again.
So, if you’re looking for the part where you feel better, you’re probably not there yet. That sucks, but it’s also normal. You can take comfort knowing that you’re on the right path if you’re waiting to feel good and you’re getting help.
Developing an awareness of your mental health also means you become aware of all the negative stuff you have to deal with from your past and present.
18. Being overly critical of mental health professionals and their treatment approaches
Therapists are people, and they can screw up, be prejudiced, and give you bad advice. Ideally, a therapist is only a bad match and not a bad therapist, but they exist. So, it’s fair to consider whether your therapist is good for you.
But, you also have to trust that, so long as they’re not doing anything outright incorrect, they know what they’re doing and want the best for you. As long as they are licensed and they don’t disregard your fair critiques, you need to believe in them because they believe in you.
19. Believing you are the only one who can solve your mental health challenges
On the flip side, you’re not alone. Not only are there lots of people experiencing mental health issues, but there are lots of people who can help you because they’re trained to. If you don’t have access to a therapy, you can use online resources.
If you can attend therapy, do it. There are communities out there built for the purpose of improving mental health. So, go out there and find them. Join groups on social media websites or look for local meetings where you live.
20. Becoming too focused on trying to please others to take care of your own mental health needs
People judge and you can’t stop them. They might judge for taking medicine to help with mental illness or they might perceive you as needy for going to a therapist or they might be jealous you have access to treatment when they don’t.
You can’t stop them from thinking any of that, so you definitely shouldn’t let them get in the way of you getting healthier. It’s easier said than done and it’s a work-in-progress, but, we believe in you.
21. Feeling like your mental health struggles define your entire identity
No matter where you are in your mental health journey, it’s easy to feel like your mental health issues define you. They take up so much of your energy, with or without you realizing, so it’s normal that you’d feel constrained by them.
Keep in mind that the only reason you learn more about your mental health struggles is to overcome them and better understand yourself.
The moment these struggles put you into a box that keeps you from enjoying the rest of your life, you need to take a break and re-evaluate your relationship to mental health. Mental health means taking a break as much as it means growing and coping.
22. Expecting yourself to be completely free of all mental health symptoms or challenges
We love making mental health resources accessible at Knockoff Therapy (it’s the philosophy behind creating this blog to begin with). But, we have to acknowledge that, with the accessibility of mental health information, we can get overloaded.
We take in all this new information that’s supposed to “fix” us and make us feel 100% better as soon as start using our new tools and coping mechanisms. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with us (therefore, nothing to fix because we are not our mental illnesses) and it takes time.
Tools take time. We need to learn how to use them, when to use them, and how to make them easier for us to use when we want to use them the least (think preparing for the inevitable rainy mental health day).
23. Becoming too attached to specific coping mechanisms or treatments
Mental illnesses suck. Even on the better days, we’re still operating at 80% because we spend so much our time deciphering what’s real from what’s actually happening (i.e. What do you really need to worry about? Is the world really as bleak as I think it is?).
That’s why it’s so easy to get suck in certain habits, and these habits can include specifics tools or treatment we gather along the way. This can include medicine, but it can also include the easiest and most readily-available coping mechanism.
The problem arises when these strategies we’re using no longer take care of our mental illness because we need a joint approach for it to fully work. Think: taking medicine without doing the work to learn coping mechanisms.
24. Believing you can’t make progress in your mental health journey without a specific external factor or condition being met
When we can’t afford therapy, we have to learn on our own how to make ourselves the happiest with our mental illnesses. But, that also means that we can fall into the trap of thinking that until we learn every possible treatment or we get therapy or we get medicine, we can’t get better. While this can true to some extent, it renders us powerless.
Our mental health is the one area where we can take back the power. We can take the information we find online and use it to improve bit by bit—we can control that. We can’t control when we can get the funds or time for other treatments.
So, let’s do our best with what we have available.
25. Over-analyzing your progress and setbacks in your mental health journey
Setbacks can just be setbacks. Progress, on the other hand, is great and we’re proud of you! But, remember that, with every victory, you’re going to have a bad day.
We’re not trying to bring you down. We’re trying to prepare you because, when you expect that bad day to happen, you won’t be as discouraged by it and you’ll realize that’s as much an example of your progress as the days you’re doing your best.