What Is Excessive Rumination and How to Deal With It?

Rumination is the repetitive and monotonous thinking about your problems, leading to more depressive feelings over time. It’s known as a risk factor in depression and anxiety, but sometimes, we don’t realize that our rumination can lead to negative feelings. In this article, we’ll share some tips on dealing with excessive rumination so you can blow off steam when you go round and round in circles.

1. Identify the Thoughts That Are Driving Your Rumination

This might be a thought like “I should have done better.” When you identify this thought, ask yourself: does this thought make sense? Is it true? If it’s not true, then you can challenge the thought by asking yourself what evidence there is for and against this thought. If there isn’t any evidence for it, chances are it’s just a random thought that came into your mind and doesn’t have any factual basis.

If there is some evidence for the thought, then ask yourself why this evidence makes sense. Does it support your belief that you should have done better? Or does the evidence point to something else entirely? For example, if someone says, “I should have done better,” but they know they did their best and are proud of themselves for working hard, then maybe there’s no need to worry about whether they did well enough!

2. Distract Your Mind

In a study,  researchers found that cognitive distraction was an effective way of reducing rumination. The study tested the effects of distracting thoughts and actions on participants’ ability to stop thinking about a specific topic or event.

The researchers found that participants who engaged in distracting thoughts experienced a significant reduction in their tendency to ruminate on a particular topic or event. However, they also found that those who engaged in distracting actions did not experience this same reduction; instead, they increased their tendency to ruminate even more!

This is why it’s so important to focus on mentally stimulating distractions—like reading, listening to music, or doing activities you enjoy—instead of those that are physically stimulating (like watching TV) since engaging in these types of distractions could make things worse for someone who already has trouble stopping their mind from going over things again and again!

3. Seek Out Social Support as Needed

Seeking out social support is a great way to feel less alone and get a different perspective. It also helps you develop a sense of community and belonging, which can be vital for your mental health.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, seeking social support can help you stop ruminating. When we’re feeling anxious or depressed, our minds tend to go in circles—and these negative thoughts can make us feel even worse. But when we talk about them with others, it helps us process those feelings and find other ways of dealing with them.

More importantly, when we talk about what’s bothering us with others, we often come up with new solutions or strategies for dealing with those feelings. We might also realize there are more effective ways to handle our problems than just thinking about them repeatedly.

4. Set a Time Limit for Thoughts

The more you think about the cause of your negative feelings, the more intense those feelings become. This is because when we contemplate adverse events, we strengthen the link between our thoughts and emotions — leading to more rumination in the future.

That’s why setting a time limit for thoughts is essential. The idea is simple: if you have a thought that keeps coming back to mind, set the alarm for five minutes and tell yourself that after those five minutes are up, you’ll stop thinking about it.

Sometimes, it is beneficial to spend time reflecting, but you need to distinguish the difference between reflecting and dwelling on something. 

5. Write Down Your Thoughts

Writing down your thoughts can help with excessive rumination because it allows you to get them out onto paper so that they no longer consume your brain space. 

Once they’re written down, they can be analyzed objectively; you can use words and sentences to describe what’s happening inside you rather than just feeling it. When we feel our feelings, we tend to react automatically. So we might lash out at someone or cry uncontrollably. 

When we can put them into words, we can analyze them more thoroughly and decide how we want to proceed based on our best interests rather than whatever emotions dictate our actions. You should write down anything bothering you or making you sad or angry about life. Don’t hold back! You’ll feel better once everything has been released onto paper.

6. Get a Hobby

A hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Hobbies are great because they allow you to escape life’s stressors and practice skills that might help you later in life.

For example, if you’re interested in writing, pursuing it as a hobby could help you communicate better through written words—which could be helpful when applying for jobs. The same goes for any other creative pursuit like painting or music. Nevertheless, these activities can train your brain to think differently than it does during the day.

The important thing is that whatever activity you choose should be something positive—something that makes you happy and helps bring clarity into your life.

7. Identify Your Triggers

When you know what sets off your rumination and worry, it’s easier to avoid it. You can also tell when you’re starting to feel like your thoughts are spinning out of control so you can take action before things get too bad.

For example, if you know that a particular person or situation triggers your rumination, avoid them. Or if there is something that always causes you to think about negative things in detail or overthink a situation, try to change your routine so that these things don’t happen as often.

It might take some time for your brain to adjust and learn how not to ruminate anymore, but with practice and patience, it will help!

8. Learn to Love Yourself

Learning to love yourself is an essential part of self-care. When you don’t love yourself, you can end up ruminating on negative thoughts that aren’t even true. This can lead to depression and anxiety, which can make it hard to sleep and eat well.

Loving yourself also means that you have to be comfortable in your skin and accept the fact that you are human. Humans are imperfect and will make mistakes. But by learning to accept this fact, we can move past our mistakes and focus on making positive changes in our lives moving forward.

More importantly, you can better focus on the positive aspects of your life. This makes dealing with the negative ones easier because they won’t seem overwhelming anymore.

9. Meditate

There are many reasons why meditation is an excellent practice for anyone looking to improve their mental health. One of the main benefits is that it can help people deal with the stress they experience. That’s because meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts, making recognizing when you’re engaging in negative thinking patterns easier. Learning to recognize these patterns makes it much easier for people to start changing them and positively changing their lives.

Another benefit of meditation is that it helps people become less reactive when they experience stressors or triggers that make them feel overwhelmed by their emotions. When we’re overwhelmed by something, it’s easy for us to feel like we have no control over our thoughts or actions—but this isn’t true! 

We always have some degree of control over what we think about and react when faced with difficult situations or emotions (even if those reactions aren’t always positive). Meditation teaches us how to recognize when we’re feeling stressed out so we can take steps towards dealing with those feelings before they spiral out of control into something bigger than ourselves.

In our increasingly hectic lives, rumination can be a beneficial coping mechanism. However, it is also crucial to know when you are excessively ruminating and to develop tools to prevent this from happening. The nine tips above are a great place to start if you ponder too much.