Rumination Station

Simple Ways to Tackle Rumination

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Overthinking. Hard to avoid, hard to justify, hard to stop. Everyone’s done it. That one situation that just just keeps circling back around and around - even if it’s clear that revisiting it is doing you zero favours.

Defined by psychologist Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksema as, "a method of coping with negative mood that involves self-focused attention," and "repetitive and passive focus on negative emotions," rumination can seriously hold us back and put us at higher risk of depression, disordered eating, and other mental health issues.  

Break the habit
Here’s a handful of psychologist-approved strategies to help stop the cycle.

1. Don’t fight it.
Seriously. Acceptance and commitment therapy suggests that trying to stop certain thoughts can have a paradoxical effect. So, next time you’re stuck in a brain-swirl, try switching from being frustrated with yourself to a mindset of non-judgmental wonder. By finding it interesting that your mind is repeating something, rather than trying to stop it, you may find that the ruminative thoughts become less intense or frequent.

2. Would you talk to your friends like that?
A common behaviour with ruminative thoughts is to hold yourself to an unrealistic standard of perfection, or overly focus on minor mishaps instead of positive outcomes. Thinking about what you would advise a friend in your situation could be a good strategy to side-step this pattern.

3. 3pm-4pm. Obsession hour.
Scheduling time in your day when you allow yourself to overthink as much as you like may help prevent it from taking over your daily life. The idea is that if you find yourself worrying or ruminating at other times, you’ll be able to say to yourself, “I don’t need to think about this now, I have time set aside later for that.”

FOR THE NERDY: Something to think about.[Source: Psychology Today]