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Most of us have experienced or rather suffered rumination at some time, either temporarily or more chronically. Hence, we are here reading more about it. Now that we have understood what rumination is and why it doesn’t work for us more clearly, how do we stop this process?

Some simple techniques to stop rumination are:

1. Distraction:

This is perhaps where most people get stuck. The basic aspect of rumination is that your mind keeps going back to the same thoughts even if you do not wish to. So for distraction, you have to occupy yourself in some activity which takes up your attention fully and doesn’t give your mind an opportunity to wander. Doing things that are relatively new, difficult or tiring, may help.

2. Incubation:

Many a time while attempting to solve problems or puzzles, we get stuck and are unable to move forward no matter how hard we try. It has been observed and proved scientifically, that if at that time, you leave the problem and start working on something else, often the solution strikes you naturally some time later. This process is called incubation. While your attention is diverted to an unrelated task, the answer has an opportunity to emerge out of the tangles of confusion that have been created by overthinking.

3. Worry time:

if worrying is something that you are unable to let go of, keep one time slot in you day dedicated to this habit you love so much. For e.g. 6 – 6:30 pm is your time for worry. You are completely free to give 100% attention to your worries and do so without guilt at this time. During this time you do nothing but worry and ruminate. The only requirement to enjoy this luxury is that the worrying thoughts are not allowed to intrude elsewhere. So if you find yourself worrying at any other time of the day, just tell yourself to stop, and tell those thoughts that they will be attended to at 6pm only. Try it. It works.

4. Writing it down:

one of the simplest and most helpful techniques I use is writing things down. Be it disturbing thoughts, the million little things that you need to do, the pros and cons of that decision you’re just not being able to make or just penning down whatever crosses your mind. This becomes not just an outlet for expression and catharsis but also a natural way of organizing and observing your mental clutter, which then allows and enables us to de-clutter.

5. Relaxation: 

obviously, your mind and body are tired of overthinking and need to relax and rejuvenate. Exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi etc. will help your mind to quiet down. Focus on Inner Peace – Kung Fu Panda style.

6. Talk it out: 

talking is a deceptively simple solution to most of life’s problems. It leads to catharsis or emotional release and cleansing. The energy that seems to be stuck in our minds in the form of disturbing thoughts and emotions gets an outlet for release, making you feel lighter and clearer. This of course will not happen if the expression is superficial or incomplete in any way. So try communicating fully and honestly, keeping fears of judgment aside. Along with catharsis, this will allow you to a gain a more holistic perspective on your own thoughts and emotions. It might also get you help which is available but you might not be reaching out to.

7. Let go:

in life, there are many things that you don’t know, can’t change, can’t help and mostly just cannot control. Thinking and worrying again and again about things that are just not in your hands, is just going to make you feel more helpless. So take a step back and check just how much of a role can you actually play in this situation. Accept and let go.

8. Being in the present:

most of our time goes in mulling over a past which is never coming back or worrying about a future which isn’t here yet. You cannot control either. The only thing that you can influence and alter to suit you better, is your present. You can choose to be happy in this very moment and no else. So make that choice. Don’t wait for happiness still to come and don’t hold on to one that’s already gone. You have only Now. Focus on what’s important Now, what’s true Now and what needs attention Now. The rest can wait.

Post contributed by: Mahima Gupta (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-2012)


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