Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson column: Do you overthink things?

One study found that 73 per cent of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink

By Chris Wilkinson

As I sit here and think about what to write about this month, I find a quote: “Stop overthinking. Whatever happens, happens.” What a delightful platitude. However, I find it falls flat. Dull. Overused. Under-motivating. So, I will lean in to Pablo Picasso’s quote, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” In that spirit, before I ruminate, brood, stew, obsess, wallow, or deliberate any further, let’s put those quotes into action and dig in to overthinking.

Overthinking is classically defined as, “thinking about something too much or for too long.” However, I prefer to think of it as, “when your brain just won’t turn off and ruminates and turns over a problem or concern many, many times just like a load of tumbling clothes in a cold dryer, with no solution or action resulting”. Does that analogy help? It’s the lack of a solution or planned next step that is the worst part.

And when does reflection, or pondering, or mulling something over become overthinking? I’d say it’s right around the point where we become uneasy. Even irritated or edgy. The stress response kicks in. Neck and face start to warm. Heart rate starts to increase. And then the low to mid-grade anxiety program starts to run.

You know you might be an overthinker (like I’ve been) if you:

• Have a hard time turning thoughts (especially negative thoughts) off

• Depend on distractions like music or TV (binge watching!) or even food to get your mind to turn off or focus on something else; have a hard time being calm and quiet-minded when alone

• Have difficulty getting to sleep because your brain won’t stop thinking of what needs to get done

• Frequently remind yourself of mistakes you’ve made, or re-living embarrassing moments over and over

• Dwell on something that was said to you, sometimes subconsciously framing it as the worst-case scenario — taking it personally and getting defensive and perhaps even angry

• Worry about things you have zero or little control over

Any of those sound familiar? One study from the University of Michigan found that 73 per cent of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink, as do 52 per cent of 45- to 55-year-olds. And what’s more, research has found that many overthinkers believe they’re actually doing themselves a favor by cycling through their thoughts over and over. Yet another study found that “rumination,” a form of overthinking, can lead to anxiety, binge drinking or eating, depression and self-harm.

Again, with overthinking, the lack of a solution or next step or plan is the worst part. However, we can make a subtle shift that pays off big time! If we can identify when we are overthinking things, by being more aware of our thoughts (pro tip: that takes daily practice — and it’s easy to start right now!), then we can begin to slow the overthinking down, and focus on an actual plan of action! This plan of action or solution is so important because when we have a plan we believe in, our worries settle right down. We feel like we have taken control of the problem back, within our own power. Take ownership and take charge of the situation. Be your own leader! It is so powerful.

The next time you find yourself overthinking, just take a quick pause to notice your surroundings. Note the sounds, the colours, the smell and what’s going on around you. And take three deep breaths from down low in your lungs. Think about the problem that you are ruminating on from a fresh perspective. Ask yourself other questions like, “Why is this bothering me?”, “Where is this coming from?”, “What do I need to do to solve this?” Then put a quick action plan together of a few things you are going to do to solve it. Identify the first step that will get the ball rolling. And do that first thing right away.

Notice how you feel when you take action against the thing you are overthinking. And keep that feeling with you. Keep that win. Keep that peace within you more each day, each week, and each month. That’s ground taken. Keep it. And remember this…

“You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” —Irish Proverb

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email


Just Posted

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read