The art of overthinking

We’re all guilty of overthinking about the little things, letting our minds run wild with ‘What If?’s… But is overt hiking alays a bad thing? Emily Merrill discusses…

Throughout my life, people have described me as an over thinker. School reports, friendships; it has even become a running joke in my flat how much I worry about the tiniest things (my biggest fear is getting appendicitis in the middle of the night. I know). Just from my everyday interactions and the circles that I run in, I’m pretty sure that most people feel overwhelmed by worries occasionally, but I’m learning to think of my constant supply of thoughts as anything other than an unwanted trait.

There are obviously negative consequences to having a mind that never seems to shut off. For a lot of people, lying awake for hours at night can manifest itself over time into mental illness, and it can become incredibly hard to step back into reality, pinch yourself and say “I promise, if you go to that social event it’s incredibly unlikely that this scenario you’ve thought about will actually happen.” Thinking (about relationships, social situations, and even food and body appearance) can be difficult territory to navigate, and for years I’ve thought of having a mind that consistently creates images as a solely negative aspect of my character – a bit of a curse that I’m never quite sure in which way it will be presented next.

They say negativity breeds negativity, so when I read an article last year and it gave me the opportunity to think of my hyperactive mind as something other than the box I had put it in, I jumped at the chance. Since then my outlook has completely changed, and I look at overthinking as an art.

Medical professionals specifically say that the worriers tend to be linked to the creatives in life; often when your mind runs off on a tangent, it could just as easily be running off to create something beautiful. It makes sense to me that the over thinkers in society are in the same category of people that use their thoughts to create, since a constant stream of thoughts could just as easily be a stream of ideas. Looking at this in a positive light has pushed me to embrace spare time by being creative – I’m a lot happier filling a notebook with writing than I am sitting at my desk and thinking about all the things that might go wrong that day. It just seems a nicer frame of mind to thank your brain for the tools to create and expand your horizons, than to blame it for every worry that passes through.

Obviously, it’s an idyllic task to think that picking up a paintbrush might banish your demons forever, and I’m not backing that theory in the slightest, but I do think it has the capacity to help. Turning your attention to something that you have the power to control gives a sense of peace that you potentially may not find otherwise, so I think it’s time we started embracing our own minds, and placing the power back into our hands through creativity.

Emily Merrill

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