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Ruminating: Strategies To Overcome Repetitive Disturbing Thoughts

By Janet Vargas – Independent Natural Health Researcher

RUMINATION: dwelling on sad or disturbing things can be quite crippling, whereby we find these thoughts (whatever is upsetting or puzzling us) repeating themselves in cycles, here and there throughout the day, or full-on for a few hours until we do something active, enjoyable or interesting that breaks the cycle and affords some peace.

 Sometimes, we can find ourselves experiencing this disturbing thought pattern for a few days when certain memories visit us from the past or something is unresolved. Stressful relationships and disappointing ones play a big role in this scenario too, especially when someone we trust speaks or acts in a way that is totally unexpected. It can take hours or even days afterward trying to work out why they behaved that way and if it would be unwise to continue a friendship.  

Occasional deep thinking in a positive way can be productive and bring a better sense of direction when making plans, whatever, or inspire change in some way. Also, we can switch it off at will.

However, for most people, intense thoughts have to do with Rumination: the serious things, stressful, upsetting and perturbing, regretful and disappointing – in other words, all negative things. Over and over again, they repeat themselves and show us no mercy, so to speak. Yes, many people experience this.

Obviously, we need to find ways to switch these thoughts off or reduce them at-least, for our well-being and quality of day to day lives. We will be happier for doing so, and for family members as well. If we are single, this could be the very turn-around you have waited for.  

Friends, hopefully you will find one or two things in the list of ideas I’ve provided here that work well for you. I hope you find some strategies to help you overcome this time waster that saps up our energy and mental real-estate that could be better spent on something productive, positive or cheerful.

Some Strategies for Overcoming Rumination

“Nip them in the Bud” if you can as quickly as possible. That’s the best way, rather than wait for them to develop and gain ground – it can become more challenging but possible.

Professionals say “Once you are involved in something, your mind has a chance to take another path.”

  1. Distract yourself with things like pleasant reading, engaging in some interesting research, walking a few streets or sitting in a park, absorbing the atmosphere around you.  
  2. Repeat the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference." This often brings one a sense of calmness and composure because it can allay confusion and anxious thoughts that caused rumination, if you meditate on those words instead, leaving things with Him.
  3. Read some pleasant poems audibly to yourself or read some thoughtful quotes and sayings. Maybe think of a few and write them down.
  4. Repeat a comforting phrase, a simple affirmation, a prayer, a poem or a song to yourself.
  5. Exercise or walk. Carrie Barron M.D. says “Moving your body can move the content in your mind. Notice aspects of nature or humanity that are bigger than your situation. Try to focus on what is outside of you rather than inside of you.” I have found these things to be true (before reading them).
  6. Count your blessings instead of things that worry you. Research shows that a grateful person is a happy person.
  7. Listen to music that has meaning for you or provides comfort. Sing or dance or clean the car with the music playing, someone said.
  8. Watch a comedy channel or DVD – keep some ready to use.
  9. Make arrangements to meet a good friend who would have a sensitive response or could make you laugh.
  10. Say, “Don’t think…” a few times and do something like cooking or baking  a nice recipe you like, doing some favorite cleaning activity, rearranging some shelves in a cupboard, or something else you enjoy……
  11. Go somewhere and be around other people or do a small project of some kind.
  12. Maybe start some Craft or a new Hobby you think could interest you. Come on, give it a try!
  13. Get into some high action: Accomplish more than you think you can or need to. Get five things done instead of three. It might energize you in a good way. Sometimes someone needs to experience energy instead of excessive time for thought.
  14. You can get some things out of the way that need attending to: challenge yourself with short 10-15 minute tasks and see how many you can get done in relays. A timer is really great for this. Imagine how good you will feel about yourself afterwards?
  15. Send someone a Letter, Card, Postcard or eCard who could do with some cheering up. You can go out grocery shopping and give free smiles away to lift other's day.
  16. Phone World Vision or Samaritans Purse and give a practical gift overseas – a warm blanket, veggie seeds with training, chicks for eggs, clean water or honey bees, and imagine someone receiving your gift. Those people get very excited and thankful – you would have made some life-change possible for them. I take much Joy in that!
  17. Think Of Positive Memories. Have a small collection of Nice Memories you picture in your heart and mind instead. Keep building onto that list each time you Enjoy something, big or small. This works very well for a friend who used to ruminate a lot.
  18. Find something Good to look forward to and maybe you can make some plans towards that. It doesn't have to be something big. Unrealistic expectations often disappoint. Instead, think of somethings that can be workable. Maybe you have not tried this before - it can be good.

15 & 16 help shift our thoughts away from ourselves which is often the problem in ruminating – especially if we are not well or have too much time on our hands. They give you a sense of empowerment to bless others instead of vulnerability in the maze you find yourself in. So do small Random Acts of Kindness we hear about.

4, 6 – 9, 11, 13 inspired by Carrie. She says “Make yourself take these aspects of life or culture in even if you don’t feel like it……” and let them work for you.

I personally recommend 1 3, 10 & 12, 15 & 16. These are things I find to be beneficial.
These are all good solutions you can try.

Over time, you can train yourself to think differently and develop new thought patterns. Be patient with yourself in this process. And make it enjoyable - that's a good circuit breaker.

Remember inactivity is not your friend. Getting More Active offsets a lot of that - it coaxes our thoughts into a healthier mode.

If you are sitting down or laying down when Rumination occurs, getting up quickly and going to a different room and doing something Active can help to offset those thoughts. I’ve had experience with that some years ago, based on observation.

Sunshine and Fresh Air are marvelous for Lifting our Mood Levels.

As with any skill “Practice makes perfect” ………………… See if you can develop a few New Habits, hey?

I have a New Exciting Website Friendship Tips And Poems that has content about Good Friendships and the Not-So-Good experiences that are often responsible for much of our Ruminating. There's no doubt about it, Rumination is Unhealthy and you will gain some extra insights when you read an article I have written there (separate to this one) called Ruminating Can Trip You Up. Reading both of these articles should help you considerably, if you put the Tips and Advice into practice. They should make for more pleasant days spent. Cheers to all who click on the link I have provided here.