6 Ways To Love An Overthinker

6 Ways To Love An Overthinker

Overthinking is not something that's voluntary, nor something that people enjoy doing -- it just happens.

If you, like me, also suffer from depression and/or an anxiety disorder, you know that overthinking automatically comes with the description on the labels.

You might worry relentlessly about something your boss said to you at work in a moment of frustration, automatically thinking you're sure to be fired. Maybe it's over an unwanted response to a text message--or worse, no response at all. Do you lie awake some nights, playing out scenarios in your head that you could have handled better or worrying about what tomorrow holds?

Maybe you're not the over-thinker here; rather, maybe it's someone you know, love and care about. How do you react when they're having an episode or dwelling way too much one one specific thing, something that might never even happen?

Do you shrug it off and get frustrated with them, telling them they're overthinking it (newsflash: they know they are) and that they need to just stop and go with the flow? Or do you just sit in silence, listening to them share their racing thoughts, unsure of what to do or say?

It's not something that's voluntary, and it's not something that people enjoy doing--it just happens. Without thought (no pun intended), without warning and without much reason. So, if you love an over-thinker, here are some of the best things you can do to love them well. And if you are one, you can likely verify that most of these suggestions are true.

1. Be patient with them.

Over-thinkers know they're making more out of a situation than what is really there; you don't need to remind them of it. Instead, let them process their thoughts in whatever way is best for them. If you have a helpful suggestion or nugget of wisdom that could boost their confidence or be of use to their situation, tell them. Just be gentle and let them know you are there for them.

2. Lend an ear.

Keep in mind that their thoughts are racing a million miles an hour, so if they choose to open up to you about what's bothering them, let them. They trust you, so don't give them a reason not to. Some people find that writing their thoughts out on paper is soothing, so it only makes sense that for over-thinkers, verbalizing their thoughts would have the same effect.

3. Provide distractions.

Sometimes a little distraction is all that's needed. After all, dwelling on the same thoughts constantly is unhealthy! Suggest that you take a walk in fresh air, go shopping, head to a movie or play a board game. Once their mind is freed up from worrying about a situation, you'd be amazed at how relaxed they become.

4. Be the voice of reason.

Occasionally, you might have to intervene with an over-thinker. Many times they'll automatically think of the very worst thing that could happen in a situation and it makes them anxious, restless or physically ill. If it gets to this point, gently remind them that you are there for them.

If there's nothing that anyone can do to control the situation, remind them--anything that cannot be controlled directly by the person isn't worth losing sleep over. If they have some control over a situation, discuss possible avenues of resolution with them.

5. Stand up for them.

People often dismiss or discredit those who think way too much, because they don't have time, patience or understanding to deal with the unknown or irrational. It's then that over-thinkers need love and support more than ever.

6. Spread positivity.

The last thing an over-thinker needs to be dealing with is negativity. Try to keep as many interactions and words as positive as possible. If they are freaking out over nothing, counteract the fear or worry with a positive remark or reassuring words of advice.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by DeviantArt user Arrecida

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It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

I'm not trying to be rude, sometimes I just can't function normally.

Flashback to 2010. I was starting a new school. As any person, all I wanted to do was make a good first impression and make friends. The second day of school, a girl (who later became a close friend) looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I can’t believe you’re actually talking to me. The first day of school, you seemed so standoffish, and you couldn’t even look anyone in the eye. I thought you were too good for me.”

I was shocked. Everyone who knows me knows I’m not like that at all…it just takes me longer than the average person to feel comfortable in certain situations. This wasn’t the first or last time someone made that comment about me, and I wasn’t shocked that I received it. My “standoffishness” stems from anxiety.

Anxiety is unique to each individual who has to struggle with it on a daily basis, so I can’t speak for everyone as I begin to describe mine. My anxiety conjures feelings of nervousness, apprehension, and unease. It is usually triggered by foreign, new, or uncomfortable situations. I will start to overthink all the worst possible outcomes, and freak out.

I’ve never been the type of person that is completely confident or fearless going into something new. I’m hesitant, with fear that I could possibly mess up or do wrong. Sometimes, I think my opinions aren’t welcome, so I don’t bother speaking up. This can cause me stress, and my way of dealing with that is to shut down. I just need a little more time to warm up to something.

If I’m quiet or I look disinterested, that’s just my body reacting to some inner turmoil going on inside me. It’s not anything that’s making me angry, and no, I don’t hate you. I’m literally going through a mental struggle and it’s hard.

Luckily, I’m not this way all the time. When I’m in my element and comfortable, I can properly function like a normal human being. Please don’t take my off-putting behaviors too personally because it’s not you, it’s my anxiety.

Cover Image Credit: Colette Wright

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You Should Never Be Hard On Someone With Anxiety

Panicking isn’t something we look forward to.

It’s definitely easier to judge someone with anxiety and point out their every flaw when you don’t have it. We understand that it’s difficult to understand someone with anxiety; we don’t understand it ourselves. Imagine living a life where you feel as if you’re constantly in danger. You don’t get a second of peace or any quiet time. Turning on the TV just gives your eyes something to focus on while your mind wanders off into deep thoughts loud enough to block out the sound.

You should never be hard on someone with anxiety because no one is harder on them than they are on themselves. You trying to push them isn’t helping either of you because to them, they are trying. Their version of trying won’t be the same as yours and that’s okay. However, you shouldn’t expect them to try as much as you think you would.

You can’t physically see what’s going on in their head. Don’t downplay someone’s thoughts, especially someone who can’t do much to defend themselves when they can’t put into words what they are going through because it’s irrational. Their train of thought is something you can’t even begin to sympathize with.

If it were up to them, they wouldn’t have anxiety at all.

Which brings me to my next point. I am tired of hearing people say that we have an “off and on switch”. If any of us had an “on and off switch” why would we ever bother turning it back on. It’s not like anyone would choose to live a life full of fear. If anyone knew what thoughts went through my head on a daily basis, they’d understand that they’re more than just your everyday thoughts.

If someone is having a brave day, don’t you dare belittle them by telling them what they could’ve improved on or how there was no point in being anxious. Hello, it’s out of our control! How dare you have the audacity to tell us how you think we should handle it? Anxiety is the hardest thing I have ever tried to explain to anyone.

The truth is, no one will ever know the thoughts I (we) have on a normal, everyday basis, and to get out of bed every day and put on a brave face is sometimes crippling.

People with anxiety know how hard it is to do the simplest of things. We also know our thoughts are irrational, that it’s almost impossible for our wildest thought to actually happen. That is not enough. Panicking isn’t something we look forward to and you can call me whatever names help you sleep at night, but you’re damn wrong if you think I (we) don’t push myself (ourselves) at least one time a day. Just because you don’t see any progress doesn’t mean we aren’t progressing. We hit our own milestones and they won’t mean much to anyone but ourselves.

For anyone with anxiety, I hope you find some peace in this. I hope you know you are not alone. Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you aren’t where you are supposed to be. You keep going at your own pace. There is no guide to this life, and there are most certainly no deadlines.

Even on your weakest day, you get a little bit stronger.

Don’t lose hope. Always remember, it is okay to not be okay all the time. Let it out, do what you have to do to pick yourself back up. The cure is within you. Don’t let other people make you feel like you are not doing enough.

To all of the parents with a son/daughter going through this, don’t be so hard on him/her. They are trying to cope with it, as well as understand it. (21 years into this and I still haven’t managed to fix myself.) It does take time. There will be days where he/she won’t want to talk about their day. They will shut you out every time you bring it up because to them, they are disappointing you, and you as their parent, are who they want to make the proudest.

Even with the smallest improvement, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed.

To all of the siblings, friends, families, boyfriends/girlfriends supporting someone with anxiety, thank you. Thank you for not turning your back when you found out or witnessed us having panic attacks.

I know that we say “no” a lot, from going out for food, to going to your house or to going out in general, but please, don’t stop inviting us. It’s hard to decline an invite, but it is much worse when you’re having a brave day and have nowhere to go.

We notice when we are no longer asked to go out, it does affect us. We appreciate it more than you’ll understand.

Cover Image Credit: Alexus Ruckle

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