Updated: Jan 2, 2022
By Senada Merkulaj
Have you ever had that one thought that keeps swimming around your head that you can’t seem to stop thinking about? Maybe it was an argument you had with a friend and the things they said stuck with you. Or maybe you can’t help but imagine other things you should have said. Either way, I think most of us have had this happen before. This is known as rumination.
By definition, rumination is known as continuously going over a thought or situation, especially ones that are sad, and has been found to have detrimental effects on our mental health. Ruminating can also include situations we perceived as missed opportunities or where we think we’ve made a mistake. It can become very “what if” as we question why we did or didn’t do something.
Consequences of ruminating:
a. It fosters negative thinking and becomes a vicious cycle
b. Problem-solving can be impaired
c. It increases feelings of helplessness
d. It can lead to problematic behaviours
e. Linked with mental health disorders, like depression
These are only a few of the consequences but don’t worry as we have plenty of tips to help you reduce and prevent ruminating thoughts.
1. Catch yourself in the act
It will be easier to deal with ruminating thoughts if you can notice every time you have them. Make a note when you do as you can identify how often they happen and write down possible triggers for these thoughts.
2. Utilise distraction techniques
Do something for 20 minutes that will take your mind away from the ruminating thoughts. This can include; watching a show, calling up a friend, playing a game or reading a book.
3. Come up with ways to actively solve the problem
Write down the problem you are ruminating over and outline the steps you need to take to solve this problem. Make these simple, realistic and specific steps that you can easily follow and try to do do this any time you find yourself ruminating.
4. Engage in activities that top up your well-being account
These are activities that make us feel good and are good for us (sleeping well, eating a good diet, remaining hydrated, and exercising).
5. Do something you are good at
For some, ruminating has been related to feelings of self-worth so find something you are good at that will help you feel better about yourself, (e.g. cooking or playing a sport). Actively make time for these activities in your weekly schedule. Try start off by doing them twice a week.
6. Utilise positive self-reflection
This is the opposite of ruminating. This involves breaking down the situation to focus on the concrete facts of what happened and delving into your own behaviours and motivations, and what you can do to prevent a similar situation recurring. Spend 10 minutes a day doing this.
7. Seek social connection
It is important to make sure you aren’t isolating yourself as a result of the ruminating and speaking to others about the problem can help you get advice on how to deal with it.
Start off by trying at least one tip this week and let us know which one you found most useful to say good bye to those ruminating thoughts.