Theres no denying that having some alone time, especially when we lead such busy lives, is a luxury. While its a good time for that much-needed introspection, what happens when you start dwelling on your thoughts too much? This is a classic case of overthinking.As the name suggests, overthinking is thinking more than what is necessary. Be it past or future, your brain is in an overdrive of thoughts, which cannot be converted to any sort of action, further leading to distress. According to Bhavya Arora, an internationally-certified psychotherapist, practising in New Delhi, One is said to overthink when the thoughts persist in loops. More technically, it is a symptom of anxiety that can hinder with your productivity, sleep, everyday functioning and mental peace.Now, this might make one wonder if its easy to just switch off if the thought overwhelms us. However, that is not the case. The way we think is often deep-rooted in our past. Dr Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, rehabilitation, and sports medicine department, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai shares, Overthinking is often an outcome of fear that stems from any traumatic experiences we may have faced in the past. Once we start obsessively thinking about these experiences, they lead us to be fearful of the future. For those suffering from mood disorders like depression and anxiety, it can be distressing and even lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies.Signs Youre OverthinkingArora points out that youre most likely to know when youre overthinking if you find yourself constantly shifting between thought patterns and asking yourself, Why am I thinking so much? Some signs you would want to look out for are:a. Not being able to put a pause to the ongoing thoughts.b. Feeling fidgety in your mind and body with a recurring thought pattern.c. Finding yourself obsessing over something you logically understand you shouldn't.d. Thinking of worst case scenarios.e. Worrying too much.f. Being too critical about self, world, and situations.g. Trying to control things you have no control over.h. Rehearsing What ifs and I could or I should scenarios in your head.i. Having dialogues in your head before they ever happen in real life.j. Finding it really hard to focus in the present.k. When your productivity takes a hit due to your thoughts.Tackling Negative ThoughtsMost of us spend a lot of time inside our own headsworrying about the future, replaying events from the past, and generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied. Dr Dordi adds, While theyre common, negative or unwanted thoughts prevent you from enjoying the present moment, distract you from whats important, and leave you drained of energy. They can also make you feel anxious and depressed. She recommends the following tactics: Reason it out: Whenever you have a distorted thought, pause and think if its rational. Question your assumptions, and their accuracy. And then think about alternate outcomes or reasons that something couldve turned out differently. Gratitude for everything: Feeling grateful affects your happiness levels and positivity. Even when youre faced with challenges, you can find a way to be grateful, no matter how big or small. Maintaining a gratitude journal is an effective way to keep negativity at a distance.Additionally, Arora suggests a practice, known as the THINK Assessment. Here is what it entails:For every negative thought chain you have, ask yourself,a. Is this thought True?b. Is this thought Honest?c. Is this thought Intentional? Would I say something like this to my loved one?d. Is this thought Necessary?e. Is this thought Kind?If you receive more than three negative responses to the said chain of thoughts, it is time to sit with yourself and re-evaluate your mindset till you can find three or more affirmative responses to the above questions.Coping StrategiesArora suggests the following strategies to cope with overthinking:1. Visualisation exercises: These mostly include visualising your thoughts and are of two types: Mental Tabs: Observe how many mental tabs are open in your mind at the moment. Give it a mental visual of a browser interface in your mind and visualise closing many of them. Speedometer Technique: Imagine sitting on the driver's seat of your mind. Observe the speed of your racing thoughts on the speedometer. Give it a number. Breathe consciously and visualise the speed becoming slower and slower as you consciously put a pause to the unwanted thoughts.2. Journaling: Becoming aware of what triggers the trauma response of overthinking can be absolutely resourceful. Journal what triggers your overthinking patterns. Is it a specific incident, place, person, or emotion?3. Breath Work: It allows you to anchor yourself back into the present moment and helps calm your nervous system, hence, pacing down your survival response. When breathing, make sure to do it right: Let your stomach inflate as you breathe in and deflate as you breathe out. There are two types of breath work: Muscle flex technique: Anchoring yourself in your body can be a powerful resource. Here's how to go about it:o Take in a deep breath.o To the count of five, form your fists and tighten all the muscles of your body.o Feel your jaw muscles, calf muscles, arm muscles, abdomen flex as you tighten it.o Once fully flexed, count till five. Then breathe, and let go.o Repeat till you feel fully anchored into your body. Four Square Breathing: You could do it physically by following the edges of your computer screen, phone screen or even mentally, drawing a square in your mind or in thin air.o Breathe in, count till four.o Breathe out, count till four.o Breathe in again, count till four.o Breathe out again, count till four.