Rumination: What It Is & How to Stop Doing It

Rumination involves obsessively thinking about negative experiences and feelings. Some people replay events that occurred in the past, while others worry about situations that could potentially occur in the future.

Rumination tends to have a snowball effect—certain mental health conditions (including generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder) can cause someone to ruminate, and rumination can in turn worsen the symptoms of those conditions. Rumination often causes people to feel anxious, stressed, and depressed and makes it difficult for them to think, process their emotions, and sleep.

How to Stop Ruminating

Rumination often becomes more intense over time, so when you start experiencing negative thoughts, it’s important that you attempt to stop them from progressing. You may want to try:

  • Distracting yourself by exercising, doing chores, or calling a loved one
  • Moving to a new location (for example, taking a walk or visiting a coffee shop)
  • Meditating and practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Challenging the validity of your thoughts (for example, asking yourself whether there’s any proof supporting your worries)
  • Taking steps to actually resolve the problem that’s causing you to worry (for example, managing stress at home by creating a household to-do list)

You should also pay attention to triggers that cause you to start ruminating and take steps to avoid them. For example, if you tend to ruminate late at night, try going to bed earlier or participating in an evening activity that will distract you from your thoughts. And when you do start to ruminate, acknowledge what’s occurring and remind yourself that it’s not healthy.

Has Rumination Taken Over Your Life?

If you’ve tried the strategies listed above but still find yourself ruminating, you may want to consider reaching out to a professional. The therapists on our team are highly experienced with rumination and can provide you with personalized advice designed to help you stop ruminating and start living a healthier, happier life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at a date and time that fits into your schedule.

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