Do you ever ruminate? You know, get stuck thinking (usually something negative) over and over? One of my greatest challenges in my recovery has been to stop ruminating.

Here are three tools that I’ve found helpful in overcoming my ruminating:

  1. Choosing with my will to control my thinking

Instead of allowing my mind to simply be on automatic pilot I have to choose to be in control of what I’m thinking about and how often I’m thinking about it. Even if what I’ve been ruminating about is a “worry” that is true; I at least have to choose to simply stop letting it play over and over in my mind.

As a Christian, I was reminded that the Apostle Paul in the Bible says that we are to “take captive” our thinking. He also says that we should focus on what is right and true. In other words, control your thinking. And replace the negative with what is true and helpful.

  1. When ruminating, I learned that it’s important to actually tell myself, out loud, to “stop”

I read somewhere that if your brain hears your voice, it actually disrupts the brainwave pattern and interrupts the repetitive thinking. (It certainly works for me.) It’s similar to someone interrupting you when you are really focused on something and then it is difficult to get your focus back.

  1. Hang out with people with positive outlooks on life as much as possible

It is said that we become like the five people we hang around the most. So, as much as possible, I nurture relationships with people who have a positive outlook on life.

  1. Physical activity

Typically, I tend to ruminate when I’m lying in bed or sitting still in a chair. I have found that if I will make myself get up and move, go for a walk or some other physical activity, I enjoy, the act of moving my muscles interrupts the cycle of ruminating. It’s difficult to do a brisk physical activity and ruminate at the same time. While you’re exercising, put on some music or an audiobook. That will also distract you from your ruminating thoughts.

  1. Get involved in a hobby

I will do something that I enjoy that requires my mental concentration. Whether it’s reading a good book, playing a musical instrument or baking a cake, activities that require you to concentrate on them will break the cycle of rumination.

You certainly don’t need to have a mental health diagnosis to have difficulties with ruminating. It is common to the human condition.

What do tools do you use to overcome your ruminating?

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