Overthinking Simple Tasks Due to Schizoaffective Anxiety

February 14, 2019 Elizabeth Caudy

Overthinking small tasks, like washing my hair, can leave me paralyzed. Learn how to deal with overthinking small tasks at HealthyPlace.

My schizoaffective anxiety makes me overthink simple tasks. I mean everything. And “overthink” is an understatement. I obsess about the worst case scenario of almost all the things I do—washing my hair, doing the laundry, and driving in the rain are all this way. This is called “catastrophizing.” My mind makes a catastrophe out of the simplest plans and tasks. It’s very hard to live this way.

Overthinking Simple Tasks Like Washing My Hair

I need to wash my hair. I used to be afraid that walking around my apartment with wet hair was dangerous. I worried that my wet hair would drip onto electrical cords on the floor and cause a fire. I don’t worry about that anymore, thank goodness, but for some reason, I’m still anxious about taking a shower and washing my hair.

I overthink simple tasks that make me anxious. My schizoaffective anxiety rears its ugly head about everything, to the point where I’m even anxious about washing my hair. Then comes the endless stream of “what-ifs.” “What if there’s a fire and I have to go outside in the five-degree temperature with wet hair?” “What if I don’t completely rinse the shampoo out of my hair and I have to go back in the shower?” And on and on.

Just writing down the catastrophizing about there being a fire made me realize how ridiculous it is. First of all, if there were a fire, I would have a lot more to worry about than going out in the cold with wet hair. Second of all, as I said before, this is catastrophizing.

Overthinking Simple Tasks Won’t Make Me Give Up on Myself

So what do I do when my schizoaffective anxiety makes me overthink simple tasks to the point of catastrophizing? I try to self-soothe, especially by putting moisturizer on my hands and legs, drinking lots of fluids, and listening to relaxing music. Self-soothing is a skill I learned in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). I also try to challenge the thought using concrete evidence, which is a skill I learned in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

I know this looks pretty bleak. I mean, I’m afraid to wash my hair. But I’m not giving up on myself. I continue to take my psychiatric medication as directed, and I’ll continue to use the skills I learn in therapy. I know I’ve washed my hair many times before and nothing bad happened. As my husband Tom says, everything will be okay. I will be okay. And even if it turns out I can’t wash my hair today, I can try again tomorrow.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2019, February 14). Overthinking Simple Tasks Due to Schizoaffective Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 22 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

Leave a reply