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.