Ruminating is a common behavior that can be triggered by negative thoughts and emotions. Rumination is when you continuously think about past experiences, or worry about current or future events.
It’s a type of repetitive thought process that often involves going over the same issues again and again, without any resolution or relief from the stress.
Rumination can occur both mentally and physically, including muscle tension and pain. It can also lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety as well as physical illness such as depression.
The good news is that there are ways to stop ruminating. Here are some tips for getting your mind off those negative thoughts:
- Be aware of what’s happening. The first step to breaking a rumination cycle is becoming aware of when you’re doing it. When you notice yourself starting to obsess over something, stop and ask yourself why. What’s going on in your mind? Maybe it’s a situation from your past or something that might happen in the future. Maybe there are things you wish were different or things you’re afraid might happen.
- Do something else instead of thinking about it. If you’re ruminating, try doing something else instead. Take a walk outside or call a friend who can help distract you from negative thoughts. Get up and move around if possible — exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream and making us feel good!
- Accept where you’re at right now: Rumination often starts with trying to change something that happened in the past — arguing with someone or getting into an accident. Accepting where you are now can help put your attention on what’s happening now instead of wishing things had gone differently or could be different in the future.
- Use distraction: Your brain likes routines, so if you’re used to focusing on negative thoughts when you find yourself alone or bored (which is often when rumination occurs), try finding other things to do instead — like reading a book or listening to music.