If you’ve learned how to stop ruminating, I am impressed. Overthinking, planning, and worry can be a difficult habit to break.
Did you notice that I associated ruminating with a habit? That’s because, basically, it is. There is nothing wrong with the emotions you feel, it’s about how far you’ll try and solve problems with your emotions. The bad habit comes from being controlled by these emotions so much that you have little logical thought.
What is rumination and how to stop ruminating?
Some of these problems you analyze are only scenarios. Here’s a quick definition of rumination
To ruminate means to analyze repetitively, feelings of distress, or problems while trying to find a solution, but taking no action.
Maybe you saw yourself in that definition, maybe not. I know that I did. So, while ruminating is one of the most difficult habits to break, it’s possible. Here are some techniques that might help you and me learn to stop ruminating.
1. Notice your ways of thinking
The reason why you should practice recognizing ruminating is that it can be happening without your knowledge. I’ve always had a problem with ruminating constantly, every time I was alone. I couldn’t drive 5 miles without trying to solve at least 10 different problems. At some point, I started correcting myself.
“Stop rehearsing”, is what I always said in my head. Somewhere along the way, I’d picked up that little phrase to keep myself focused. If you can notice when you’re ruminating, you can practice a phrase that helps you understand what’s happening. It’s like the best part of you disciplining your falts. It’s interesting, and it works.
2. Sometimes acceptance
I read somewhere about acceptance, and I thought about something called the ‘Serenity Prayer’, not to be spiritual, but to reiterate a point, so bear with me.
‘God gave me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’
It’s just a positive phrase engraved upon many plaques to help people keep their heads up. This is significant in helping you learn how to stop ruminating.
The reason is that you are wise to accept things you cannot change. I’m not saying you cannot get a better job, leave an unhealthy relationship, or anything like that. The things you cannot change, like death, for instance, you must accept. In your ruminating, if there’s something that cannot be changed and you’re trying anyway, think of this prayer.
3. Stay away from triggers
You’ve heard of triggers before, but in any case, it means, something that quickly creates negative emotion. You can be triggered by words, smells, tastes, expressions, objects, or just about anything.
Triggers don’t just cause a temporary problem. Sometimes when there is a trigger, your ruminating thoughts can increase. If you know what triggers your negative emotions, try to stay away from that to stop ruminating.
4. Appreciating distractions
It’s hard to worry about a previous fight with a loved one when you’re distracted, I mean truly distracted. When something negative happens, and you are prone to rumination, get busy. Find something to do that you enjoy, so your mind won’t start running all over the place seeking action, an action that sometimes never happens.
While the teachers always hated distractions, and we’re taught to stay focused, in this case, distractions are okay. Appreciate distractions when bad things happen. It could just be the thing that slows down the intensity of rumination.
5. Got to let it go
Sometimes, even though you know something needs to be done, you have to let it go. Your thoughts are filled with different solutions and actions that have to be done to solve a problem, and there’s an immense amount of energy building your thoughts.
To help yourself conserve your emotional energy, and to halt your overactive mind, you have to just let some things go. No matter how hard you try, letting them go can actually be the best thing for the situation. Many times, problems take care of themselves.
6. That support system
I’ll tell you, I have only a few people whom I can call a support system. I need to do better. Maybe some of you need to do better as well. Listen, you need a support system because you should never have to carry a burden all alone. You shouldn’t have to sit around thinking about difficult issues without another mind or two trying to help.
While your support system isn’t supposed to give you the ultimate answer, it can shine a light on different perspectives. They can be sounding boards and comforting presences too. I guess it sounds a little selfish to want a support system for your problems, but it isn’t. Most support systems support each other, so no one is left out.
7. Try sound solutions
Here’s another way to cut down on rumination. If you think you’ve found a good solution to a problem, try it and see what happens. While there is a risk that it might not work, there’s also a chance this was what you needed to do all along. Taking action with stable solutions is a smart move.
The only thing you need to do first is to make sure you have the ability to tell the difference between a sound solution and an off-the-wall idea. Solutions reduce rumination.
Brain! Be quiet!
If you really want to know how to stop ruminating, keep practicing every technique you’ve read. If one doesn’t work, then try another. Many problems like this, based on anxiety, PTSD, and depression are only treated after learning what works and what doesn’t.
As a fellow ruminator, I would love to know what works for you!
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