Rumination ruins lives

Thinking things over too much might be causing you mental health troubles.

One characteristic of many of the people I have worked with over the years is that they have an uncanny ability to ruminate over their problems for a great deal of time.   Often I relate to clients that problems and worry often come into their minds like bad pop-songs, only a few bars, maybe a verse or so – but they can play on repeat again and again and again.

Sound familiar?

It is an issue I’m frequently presented with,  sometimes it’s exacerbated by low moods.  You may wake up in the morning and find yourself feeling low, then your mind may wonder and begin to drift and ponder upon negative thoughts. Once you begin to think on these negative thoughts you may find yourself drifting into a state of mental agony.

Why do we do this?

  • Believe you’re gaining insight through rumination.
  • Have a history of trauma.
  • Perceive that you face chronic, uncontrollable stressors.
  • Exhibit personality characteristics such as perfectionism, neuroticism and excessive relational focus

I’ve always been an advocate of CBT.  One of the main applications of CBT is that is accepts that moods can change, however by addressing the style of thinking and behaviour we can take control of where our mind drifts to.

I’m sure if you’ve ever thought too long on negative thoughts you’re able to identify the agony these thoughts can cause a person. They heighten anxiety and can feel like an endless pattern of defeat, by challenging this automatic style of thinking people are able to break the chain of these negative thoughts.

Where do I begin to break the cycle?

Even without much knowledge or experience of psychotherapy you can begin to break the cycle of rumination right away by using the following simple techniques:

  • Taking small actions to begin solving problems.
  • Restructuring negative perceptions of events and high expectations of others.
  • Letting go of unhealthy or unattainable goals and developing multiple sources of self-esteem.

-Written by Dylan Kerr



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