Sunday, March 26, 2023

Rumination: What is it and how to minimise

Rumination is a form of negative thinking where one dwells on unpleasant experiences or situations in an effort to find a solution or way to cope with them. Research has continuously linked the behaviour of rumination with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and generally, it can contribute to a lower quality of life. 

There are different kinds of rumination and not all of them are actually negative. Typical ruminator thoughts may begin with things like:

“What if..” 

“I should have..” 

“Why did I…”

“Why me”

The reason this though process is damaging is because it keeps you stuck and in a negative mindset. Thoughts also influence emotions which influence behaviours and so, engaging in this process may well contribute to feeling lower and MORE self critics - a vicious cycle. Furthermore, the process takes us away from acting in accordance with our authentic selves 

  • Setting aside a Worry Time: this may be anything from 20 mins of writing about your worries in the morning to one hour set aside each day that is DEDICATED to thinking things through. With this, as worries/ thoughts begin to take over during the day, you can immediately put them to one side to address later. Once the timer goes off and the allotted time is over, you must stop and leave those worries behind.  
  • Mindfulness practice: teaches you how to become aware of your thoughts and begin observing them.  Eckhart Tolle teaches the following practice: Imagine yourself as a third party, looking in on your brain and observing your thoughts pass by. 
  • Cognitive reframing: I’m not going to pretend that learning to switch your thoughts off is easy as it’s absolutely not and takes time & effort. However, you can begin by reframing or correcting those thought processes when you do begin to notice them. 
    You may think “What if Sarah thinks I’m *insert judgement here* because I did ______ *insert experience here*.
    You could then challenge this with “but what if she thinks nothing because she didn’t even notice, because her world doesn’t revolve around me”. Top it off by considering the most LIKELY scenario & outcome, rather than the WORST case, which is often our knee jerk reaction. 

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