Breaking the Habit of Rumination

Rumination is the endless spin cycle of rehashing a situation hoping to gain insight. My friends, this insight never comes. Rumination is a trigger for anxiety and overwhelm and does not serve us in any way. You might call rumination, worry, but it’s the same thing.

Did you know that rumination is a habit? We have taught our brains that this is the way to deal with problems. Unfortunately, rumination as an action doesn’t lead to any solutions.

Now that we have that out in the open, let’s talk about how to break the habit

  1. Become aware that you are doing it. If you are replaying scenes over and over again, you are ruminating. If you are thinking catastrophic scenarios, you are ruminating. If you are engaging in all or nothing thoughts, you are ruminating. Be curious. Watch your thoughts and figure out what ruminating looks like for you.
  2. Plan a particular time of day that you will ruminate/worry and think about pairing it with an activity such as cleaning, crafts, etc.
  3. Stick to the plan and tell your brain that we are not ruminating if you start to do it and it’s not time for it. This may sound silly, but your brain has created a habit of ruminating and needs to be told by your pre-frontal cortex that you are not doing it unless it’s planned.

Like breaking any habit, this will take practice. Focus on step 1 until you get really good at being aware you are doing it. Take notes, observe, be curious, then move on to steps 2 and 3.

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