Does your life feel empty? Maybe you feel disconnected from family or friends, or you feel empty inside and have trouble sleeping. Too many people may be experiencing these symptoms, but how do you know if you are simply overthinking and in need of a reality check? According to Dr. Michael Carr, medical director of the Shenkman Pain Institute and an Emory University Health System affiliate, we are all living in a medicated world where stress goes unchecked. “Most people overthink,” he said. “We try to convince ourselves of how much we care and how much we’re thinking about it, but we’re actually trying to distract ourselves from what we feel in a biologically counterproductive way.”
Spending too much time overthinking can actually wreak havoc on our brains, he added. When we think too much about everything in our lives, we get less done and our minds wander as we deal with negative feelings. Is there something we’re anxious about, or is it simply a life event we didn’t anticipate? Carr says it’s up to you to decide which one it is. “Everyone has some kind of predicament in their life that they don’t like and it’s been something that’s been here for a while and they’re just feeling pressure with this one thing,” he said. “You may need to treat it, so you have to figure out what it is that’s got you so agitated and keep working on it until you can solve it. It’s not the heaviness of it that will take you down but the thought that you’re not solving it.”
Bucking those negative emotions is difficult, but it’s completely in your control, Carr added. If you’re feeling lonely or disconnected, bring someone else into your life so you can increase your social support, which will ultimately lead to more joy and love in your life. If you’re a parent, keep good relationships with your children so they feel safe and their needs are met. If you’re feeling the blues, stop dwelling on it, Carr said. “Examine the intensity of your emotions and bring yourself down from the peak and start working on something that will kind of offset or alleviate the feeling,” he said. “And if you end up on autopilot at home, think about your positive role models and role models in the community and make a commitment to change yourself.”
Backing away from your stresser may help you feel lighter, Carr said. “A lot of times when people are feeling great about themselves, they engage in things that they shouldn’t,” he said. “Giving in to the [stress] will just make that feeling worse.” Carr recommended taking a short walk around the neighborhood, doing activities you love that engage your body and mind in a way that feels good.
This article originally appeared on xoJane.
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