It is common in modern culture to overthink and become stressed over things that are only happening in our minds. Sometimes we experience a situation that is difficult to process, and often, we are simultaneously attempting to process multiple situations at once. It can be really difficult to separate our mind and our personal reaction from experiences that we go through as individuals or in relationship.
Because we often experience emotional overwhelm, we can sometimes stuff our thoughts and feelings away for another day. But instead of processing them later, they get lodged in our bodies and our psyche and remain unresolved. Alternatively, many people cannot cope with overwhelm by letting go and instead ruminate on their thoughts.
What Is Rumination
Rumination is when we allow our thoughts to spin in our minds, almost as if they are on repeat, without any sense of control over what we are thinking or how it is affecting us.
Rumination is a really exhausting experience for most people because it is a sort of “groundhog day” mentality where the same thought circle around the mind over and over again. This can be an incredibly stressful experience if the thoughts circulating in the mind are negative, destructive, or pessimistic.
When these types of negative thoughts take over the mind, we can experience sadness, depression, or anxiety. It is also possible to have rumination around positive thoughts, as may be experienced in excessive thought over a new love infatuation or an upcoming job opportunity. In these instances, the thought itself is positive but the rumination as a process is draining and can be destructive rather than constructive if it drains our energy or prevents us from experiencing openness and curiosity.
When we are open to the creativity of life and can bring a curiosity to experiences, it can bring an openness to the mind and allow for unique opportunities to come forth. But, when we are narrow-minded and are stick in ruminating thoughts or over-identification with a certain outcome, then we can experience extreme overwhelm when things don’t go as planned. Clinging to a mindset that isn’t serving us is detrimental to the energy levels and to the ability to enjoy life as it is currently occurring.
When experiencing rumination, the first step to overcoming the situation of a spinning mind is to recognize that it is occurring. This is a major accomplishment and should be recognized as such.
The mind can be a trickster and so being able to identify thoughts and thought patterns is a great first step in putting a stop to ruminating thoughts. When we give attention to the mind, it is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the first step in changing mental behaviors and habits.
Once you have the ability to identify rumination, it is possible to begin to change the behavior of the mind through attentiveness. When we recognize rumination, we can offer a new perspective by inviting curiosity and optimism and by grounding ourselves back into our bodies.
To bring some space to the thoughts, it is essential to take a few deep breaths, put your feet on the ground, get into nature, go for a walk, or participate in exercise. Sometimes getting the heart rate up and getting active can calm the thoughts for a while and bring a break that will allow for clarity.
When we take the time to honor ourselves by engaging in an activity other than dwelling in our mind, we can allow the body to bring forth a new message that is more clear than what we were experiencing in a spinning and stressed out mind.
Distractions can help break the cycle of ruminating. Here are some ideas:
* Watch TV
* Read a book
* Call someone
Action Plan and Taking Action
When negative thoughts take over your mind, instead of just thinking about them make an action plan for how you will address the problem. Then follow through on the action plan.
When you are stuck on a negative thought, and obsessing consider if the thought is really sensical. Get perspective on it.
Meditation clears the mind and invokes deep calm and peace to the mind. Essentially you can use meditation to completely wipe clean those nagging thoughts and break the cycle of rumination.
If ruminating thoughts are a constant problem, then consider speaking with a licensed mental health professional. Therapists are trained to help you identify the core issues so you work through the reasons behind rumination and solve the problem once and for all.