6 Strategies to Deal with Rumination (Monday Musings: January 15, 2017)
I am an analytical person. The gears in my head are always turning. On the one hand, I feel like being detail-orienting, editing, perfecting, and refining are gifts. On the other hand, going into that space of rumination can really detract from my happiness.
Everyone ruminates—where your mind tumbles through thoughts over and over again. When thoughts are out of control, sometimes they can start spiraling and become overwhelming.
That’s why I really loved this quote my Rumi: “Your thoughts are like house guests — you can make room for them, but don’t let them run the show.”
Here are 6 tactics that help me:
I have turned to meditation to help with thought spiraling. I have trouble sitting and meditating without prompts, so I use the Headspace app to guide me. Just regulating my breathing is often enough to help me feel grounded.
Meditation helps even after the session is over. For example, the skill of noting is used during meditation and can be used in everyday scenarios. When you are meditating, thoughts flow through your mind, which is natural. Instead of getting hung up on the thoughts keeping me meditating, I label them as “thought” and imagine them as a cloud floating away. I can also do that anytime during the day, too!
3. Thought Switching
Another skill I have learned is thought switching, which is part of cognitive behavioral therapy. I ask myself questions like “where am I going with this thought?” and “is this thought true?”. A lot of times, when anxiety hits we can impose ideas on situations when they aren’t really there. For example, when someone says something to us and we start thought spiraling about the deeper meaning. Did they have a strange tone in their voice? Did I say the wrong thing? When this happens, I try to ask myself if it’s true and tell myself I am inferring too much for the situation.
4. Go Ahead and Worry—For a Limited Time
I like that I can enjoy my thoughts. Yes, enjoy them—the good ones and the ones about things that make me nervous. Go ahead and worry, but limit your time for these anxiety-inducing thoughts. Set a timer, worry for that set amount of time, then move on. I tell myself “I’ve spent enough time on this and I don’t want it to ruin my day.” It can really boost your confidence to know that you can indeed shut off these thoughts and not let them control you.
5. Use Your Imagination
When my thoughts turn to worry, I enjoy imagining the situation turning out ok. According to the book The Secret, thoughts become things. Whether you believe in that or you think it’s mumbo jumbo, directing your thoughts towards pleasant topics feels not only better in the moment but can also start an avalanche of positivity for your day.
6. Move Your Body
My final tactic when thoughts become anxiety-ridden is to move my body. Journaling, exercise, window shopping even chores around the house keep me from focusing on what is bothering me.
These are my 6 strategies to be ok with my thoughts and make room for them in my life, but don’t like them overtake me into a spiral. It’s definitely a practice, but I don’t want negative thoughts steal my joy. Please note, if you have been struggling with these feelings for a long time, seek professional advice.
What are your strategies? Comment below!