If you’re prone to ruminating, a small problem can turn into a big one. You might find yourself worrying about something that happened earlier in the day, or even days ago. And before you know it, you’re on a slippery slope toward anxiety and depression.
Rumination is the repetitive act of thinking about something over and over again. When you ruminate, it’s as if your mind will not rest until you have resolved the issue to your satisfaction — which means that sometimes it never does.
If you’re prone to ruminating, here are some tips for breaking the cycle:
1. Practice mindfulness meditation. Rumination is often an attempt to escape from the present moment, so mindfulness meditation can help you stay focused on what’s happening right now. If you’re new to mindfulness, this is a good place to start:
2. Do something physical instead of thinking about what happened in the past or might happen in the future. Physical activity helps you let go of negative thoughts by giving your brain a break from them. You can even try doing something fun such as taking up a new hobby, playing video games, or watching TV shows or movies that make you laugh!
3. Distract yourself with something else when you find yourself obsessing about something negative that has happened in your past or could happen in the future. For example, if you’re worried about being late for work tomorrow because it will be snowing outside, write down your worries and then do something else like checking email or watching TV until they pass.
4. Take a walk outside in nature or spend time at an aquarium; studies have shown that these types of activities help reduce rumination due to their calming effects on the mind and body (hint: this is why we find ourselves daydreaming about our favorite vacation spot!).