Ruminating on thought is like ruminating on food. It’s ruminating on something that doesn’t feed, only takes up space, and hurts. We invite you to try some simple techniques to stop this “insane” behavior.
Rumination syndrome is a disease in which people repeatedly regurgitate food from the stomach to chew, swallow, or spit it out. Something similar happens with thoughts, which is why we are dedicating this article to examining different strategies to decrease rumination of thoughts.
In psychological rumination, a person goes back and forth between thoughts that are not good for him. She regurgitates them again and again without any “nurturing,” guiding, or educational function.
Thus, a certain thought can capture all the attention, blocking it, and often influencing mood in a negative way. Glucose, the essence of our brains, is consumed for nothing. There is no door to reach, the hours pass in our head and not in our life. A thought remains locked in as if for it, our mind was a dead end.
If you are familiar with that feeling, in this article, we offer a series of techniques and approaches for shaping this invisible door. The rumination circle can only cause depression or anxiety. So it is better to break it as soon as possible.
Decreased Rumination: Postpone Worry
This is a classic strategy for cognitive-behavioral treatments. However, this is a temporary strategy, which is employed until relaxation and restructuring skills are learned to manage the worry.
The procedure would be as follows:
- Identify worries and other unnecessary or unpleasant thoughts. These are the ones that interfere with your performance or current enjoyment
- Choose a worrying period of 15 to 30 minutes when you have no activity to do. This moment shouldn’t be right before you fall asleep
- When you notice that you are worried, put off the time you have set aside for this.
- Take advantage of your worrying period to develop a strategy on how to handle it.
This exercise will help you realize that many of the worries that threaten you are far from urgent. It will also help you find out how they interfere with your present moment, generating more concerns about being an obstacle to completing the task in question. A common, and often disastrous, the solution is to act on impulse.
Check the Usefulness of Worrying
This exercise allows you to see that only a small part of the negative results that we anticipate occur. Most concerns and problems don’t end up arising, they either resolve on their own or we find a solution to them.
To check the uselessness we are talking about, you can take the following steps:
- Write down the concerns you had last week
- Make the connection between the concerns and the time spent and the result. Note the catastrophic predictions that were made and those that were not.
- Assess whether the thinking has been oriented towards the solution or towards the fear of your inability to deal with it.
- Finally, specify whether the problems observed are more related to the tension associated with the question or concern (insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, etc.) than to the observation of real obstacles to their realization (inability to take transport together, last-minute breakdowns, theft, etc.)
In many of the results of your objective assessment, you will find that what is exhausting and limiting is anticipating its onset and your supposed inability to act. Worry is a dysfunctional way of dealing with problems. By worrying, you think you are working on solving your problems.
Seeing if our worries are useful is an effective way to reduce rumination.
Decreased rumination: decatastrophization
Decatastrophication is not about seeing an adverse event as unimportant or neutral. For example, it can be very confusing to be out of work. It is about critically assessing its real impact and possible solutions.
The procedure is as follows:
- Write down your concerns and the feared outcomes if they occur.
- Write down the actual results that happened to you. Then write down if they were better or worse than you expected (much worse, evil, a little better, quite better, much better) and how well you coped with the negative results.
- Then, to help you remember this information, reread it each afternoon and relive it through your imagination. Seems much more useful than considering them only verbally
Instead of “fixing” or “feeding” thoughts about the negative consequences of certain events (e.g., a heart attack), try to find a point where you can come to a balanced view of the event.
You may be out of work, but you can spend a little more time with your family, take training, or find a better one. If the evil cannot be exploited, let us use the good it leaves us.
Exposure and Prevention of Response
To get used to certain sensations, you can start by exposing yourself to concerns using your imagination. We recommend that you implement this strategy in the company of a qualified therapist. Indeed, it is not a recommended technique for adapted concerns or emotional impacts, such as the grieving process after a loss.
The purpose of this exercise is to try to get used to the images of anxiety, being able to tolerate the emotion until it can be managed not to associate it with individual safe behavior, such as:
- Call a parent before making a decision.
- Check the email several times to see if a response has arrived.
- Take an anxiolytic at the slightest feeling of alarm or distress.
To achieve this :
- Produce a detailed table that includes situations starting with the least disturbing or least distressing.
- It was vividly evoking the disturbing first image with the most disastrous consequence that follows.
- After doing the previous step, recall the image in your head again for at least 25-30 minutes. Describe out loud what you imagine and how you feel.
- During exposure, you should not apply coping strategies such as cognitive restructuring, relaxation, or try to distract yourself or run away from the image. Of course, you cannot enforce security behaviors like those listed above.
- Towards the end of the exhibition, imagine how things will turn out a little later (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months to 1 year) to promote a process of decatastrophization.
- Once the exposure time has elapsed and assuming there has been an addiction to anxiety, generate as many alternatives as possible to the worst expected consequence.
- When the exposure generates only a slight level of anxiety despite several attempts to imagine the concern vividly, you move on to the next area of the hierarchy.
It is an exercise in rumination, but with thoughts with positive content. With this, we will manage to put some curious effects in our favor, such as that of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We will also prevent negative thoughts from entering our center of consciousness. The idea is to start ruminating on positive thoughts the same way you think about negative thoughts.
- The same type of unrealistic predictions is made when negative thoughts occur.
- At the same time, if automatic thoughts or negative feelings interfere, the therapist is told to “deal with them” for a while, until the exercise and positive rumination have stabilized.
- Very positive and not entirely realistic images, feelings, and events are emphasized. They are related, for example, to performance (triumph, recognition, etc.)
- When a rumination has been established at a similar intensity to that of worry, the exercise is over. Now is the time for the person to focus on the feelings they are experiencing.
The person will understand that, like positive rumination, worrying constantly is unrealistic and not the right way to solve problems, as there are ideas that remain fixed according to our beliefs or expectations without being an obstacle to taking into account other thoughts.