Overthinkers Q&A 1: What does overthinking look and feel like?

👉 What does overthinking look and feel like?

Overthinking is when your mind feels busy, when that voice is your head is providing a highly persuasive running commentary on what it thinks is going on.

It could be dwelling on something you’ve done the past, whether that was a conversation you had with your boss yesterday, or an argument you had with your mother 20 years ago.

Or it could also be worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, from the work presentation you have to make on Thursday to how Chat GTP will impact your work and career.

Overthinking can make us feel all kinds of things, but in general it makes us feel constricted and heavy. We take everything seriously. It’s the opposite of feeling light or in flow.

Specifically, you might feel tense or irritable or distracted. If you take your attention into your body, there might be tightness in areas like your chest, solar plexus, shoulders, jaw or forehead. Perhaps your stomach is churning or giving you butterflies. Obviously, it totally depends on the situation and what your overthinking is about.


The good news is that noticing how overthinking feels is a great way to get more of a handle on it. Put simply, your mind has learned to go into overthinking mode as a way for you to avoid feeling sensations and emotions directly.

👉 The way out of overthinking is to go into the present moment and feel things more openly. 👈


Take your time and tune your attention into your body. Feel whatever you can feel – where is there tightness or a feeling of heaviness / jitteriness? Stay with it and breath slowly in and out from there. If you feel impatient to get rid of the feeling, notice that, but don’t take the impulse seriously. Trying to get rid of it is too forceful an approach and doesn’t tend to work.

If you’re not used to doing this kind of thing, it can feel a bit challenging. You might suddenly find yourself back in your thoughts or sometimes the fear is just too much. You’re scared to go there. Whatever happens is totally fine. Don’t beat yourself up about anything. Just take it at your own pace and be kind to yourself.

If you have trouble locating any specific feeling or sensation in your body, try bringing your attention from your head and down into the soles of your feet. Feel your connection with the ground. Now take some slow breaths in and out, from low down in your body. If you make the out-breath slightly longer than the in-breath, this can calm the nervous system, which also tends to slow down your busy overthinking mind a bit.

Hope that helps!

PS: Going back to the original question, how overthinking looks is an interesting one. Often it doesn’t look like anything! From the outside, people have no idea what’s going on in your mind. But take it from me, lots of people are doing it!

What I’m trying to say here is, you’re not alone.


☀️ This is the first in a series of answers to the most Googled questions about overthinking. See the blog for more answers to the most popular questions.