Why should you stop ruminating?
Before we answer this, let me ask, are there times where you think the same sad thoughts repeatedly? Does all this worry make you feel concerned and anxious?
The process of continuously thinking the same dark thoughts is called rumination. The APA dictionary defines ruminating as “obsessional thinking involving excessive, repetitive thoughts or themes that interfere with other forms of mental activity.”
While everyone thinks these types of thoughts occasionally, you don’t want to develop the habit of ruminating. This is because, as the APA definition points out, it can be counterproductive and even harmful to your mental health when it becomes a regular occurrence.
While it’s not helpful, ruminating is common. So, this week, let’s talk about how you can stop ruminating.
Five ways to stop ruminating:
1. Recognize when you’re ruminating.
One of the first steps to stop ruminating is to identify the thoughts or situations triggering it. Negative memories fuel these thoughts.
For example, you remember how something went wrong in the past. Your brain recognizes that a situation seems similar and starts ruminating about how you’re going to handle it.
If the outcome of the past situation was negative, this rumination upsets you.
For others, it may be more general. Like ruminating when feeling anxious or stressed when the sky is cloudy.
Identifying the thoughts or situations that trigger your ruminating can help you be more aware of it happening. This allows you to find and use techniques that help you reduce its effects or stop ruminating all together.
2. Write your thoughts to get them out of your head and onto paper.
It’s important to capture your thoughts when you’re ruminating. Having them on paper allows you to see the situation more objectively. It can also help you clear your head.
When you write things down, you can identify thinking patterns that you regularly ruminate over, such as feelings of unworthiness or self-doubt. The only way you can stop ruminating is to get a handle on what’s behind it.
To help you get a better hold on these patterns, it may be helpful to keep a journal to track your thoughts and progress.
3. Give yourself time to calm down and relax before addressing the situation that is causing you to ruminate.
Once you’ve identified the thoughts or situations triggering your rumination, you’ll need to take time to calm down and relax before addressing them. You want to put some mental space between your response and the event.
This mental space will help you think more clearly. Clearer thinking helps you make better decisions.
There are many ways to relax.
One way is to use deep breathing. Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply into your abdomen can quickly help you relax and stop ruminating. This helps you take back control of your thinking.
Another thing you can do is take a break from the situation that’s causing you to ruminate. Instead, do something you enjoy.
You can exercise, take a walk in nature, or listen to calm music.
Some people find aromatherapy helpful.
You might also take a warm bath or shower.
Once you’re calm, write your thoughts and feelings in your journal.
4. Talk to somebody about what’s happening to you.
When you’re overthinking a problem, getting another perspective can allow you to see things more clearly. Since they have a fresh vantage point, they can provide you with a different way to look at the situation.
This can help you see things more clearly so you can stop ruminating, or at least reduce it.
Talking about how and when you ruminate can be helpful in reducing its frequency and intensity. Be careful who you choose to share your thoughts with. You need someone who will listen without judgment and who you can trust to be honest with you.
It may also be helpful to talk to a professional, such as a therapist or counselor. If you think this is a good option for you, get a referral from your doctor or from a reputable group like the American Psychological Association.
Here are some helpful tips to help you talk about it.
Let the person you’re taking with know you’re struggling with rumination and would like to talk about it with them. Be honest with your feelings and what thoughts are repeating in your mind.
Ask the other person for their thoughts and opinions. Listen and don’t judge their comments.
5. Learn to focus on the present moment.
Your mind can become stressed and anxious when you dwell on the past or future. One of the most efficient methods to counter this mindset is to focus your thoughts on the present.
You can do this by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening right now, at this moment.
This helps you concentrate on everyday things. It also allows you to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
It can help you stop ruminating by helping you see your thoughts simply as thoughts instead of getting caught up in them.
Use these tips to control your thoughts so you can stop ruminating.
Going over negative thoughts in your head can be a tough habit to break, but it is possible. By recognizing the thoughts and situations that trigger you, you can stop ruminating and take back control of your thinking.
If you’re someone who struggles with ruminating, keep a journal to track your thoughts and progress. As you identify the ideas or situations that are triggering you, it’s important to give yourself time to calm down and relax before addressing them.
This space can also help you think more clearly and make better decisions.
When you capture your thoughts, discuss your situation with another person, and focus on the present, you can break the rumination cycle.
Use these tips to help you stop ruminating and start living a more joy filled life today!
Do you find yourself going over things over and over again in your mind? You can break this cycle using the easy-to-follow processes you’ll find in Mastering the Mind, Body and Spirit: Secrets of Black Belt Peak Performance. Pick up your copy today!