If you’re the owner of an overactive brain, you’ll know that it can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the positive side, having a busy mind can be good when it comes to being creative and coming up with fresh ideas, or being productive.
But after a while, those constantly buzzing thoughts can become overwhelming. There are days when you just want to take a break and relax, which is easier said than done.
Here are just a few of the problems that overthinkers struggle with every day.
Makes it hard to focus on one project
While an overactive mind can be useful for coming up with new ideas or breezing through projects, it can also make it difficult to choose which task to work on at any one time.
I often find myself sitting down to work on my book or do a few boring admin tasks, only to find my brain has jumped ahead onto the next task and then the one after that. I try to settle to work, but my mind just keeps hopping from one thing to another, making it impossible to concentrate.
You leave projects unfinished
One of the best things about having a busy brain is the constant stream of ideas. Unfortunately, your brain will probably churn out more ideas than you can manage at one time, which means that projects often fall by the wayside as newer, shinier ideas spring to life.
When you do try to juggle the different projects, you risk spreading yourself too thin and reverting back to the point above.
Stops you sleeping
Most people have experienced this at one time or another, after a bad day or when something is troubling them. You lay awake letting your mind turn over and over your problems and it refuses to let your body drift off into sleep.
For some people however, this is a regular – if not daily – occurrence. It’s not fun.
Worrying becomes routine
I’m no expert, but I do believe that anxiety and worry go hand in hand with an overactive mind. When you spend so much time racing from one thought to the next, it’s very easy to get caught in a negative spiral, and if you’re not careful, it can become a habit.
Even when everything is going well, you’re so used to worrying about something that your brain is only too happy to oblige, often taking you straight to the worst case scenario.
One of the few positives I’ve found with this kind of behaviour is that it can be useful when it comes to trouble shooting for a project, whether that’s for work, home or even something like a trip abroad. As practised worriers, we can easily imagine all the things that might go wrong in a given scenario, meaning that we can prepare for them.
It’s a trait that has come in useful for me many times at work.
Nothing is ever ‘finished’
Many of the writers reading this will feel my pain: when your brain is always churning over a project, it’s hard to accept that it is finished, as you always spot something that could be changed or improved.
Deciding that something is complete and ready to go out into the world can be a long and nervy process.
It fosters perfectionism
As with the idea that nothing is ever finished, when we overthink things, we tend to be very hard on ourselves and our work. That makes it hard to let go of something that isn’t ‘perfect’.
We could work on our novels, or our new blogs, or our design projects etcetera etc for far longer than we need to, delaying the eventual launch because that project needs to be perfect. But after a certain point, the changes are often so small that they don’t make a lot of difference to the overall quality anyway.
Struggle to live in the moment
I’m really bad at this. Whenever I’m doing something amazing, or experiencing what should be a special moment, my physical concerns often interrupt. My brain shouts that it’s too warm or too cold, it tells me I’m hungry, thirsty, bloated, tired, fed up and a million other annoying but minor concerns.
I find my brain is always rushing ahead to the next thing, the next achievement, too impatient to appreciate what is happening now.
Slip into a list mentality
When you overthink, you often come up with huge lists of tasks that you have to do and put pressure on yourself to complete them. Even if a particular task is something that should be fun, like blogging or writing or even watching a movie with your loved ones, it can become another chore that must be ticked off an imaginary list. You develop tunnel vision and the act of completing a task becomes the goal, rather than enjoying the task itself.
Having a busy brain is a symptom of our lives today: always rushing from one place to another, one task to another; always looking for something to stimulate us, whether that’s a TV show, a BuzzFeed article or the notifications on our phone.
So much thinking can be exhausting and I’ve still never found a way to shut that part of my brain up when I’m ready for some quiet time.
But it does make me appreciate the moments of stillness more than anything: those moments laying in the sunshine with my headphones, or stopping to look around and realise that things are actually good.
So while overthinking can be a curse, it does make us grateful for the quiet times.