Sometimes a lot of us can get caught up in emotions and memories that happened long ago and while self-reflection can be helpful, rumination is destructive. Dwelling on your old misfortunes or problems can increase your distress and make you re-live moments that you don’t want to revisit. Perhaps you’re replaying an old conversation you had with your ex and every time you imagine the discussion, you beat yourself up over something that you or they said. This type of memory can create unnecessary chaos and unhappiness that hinders your ability to overcome that hard time.
When you are ruminating over negative events, it can affect you in numerous ways, for instance, research has found that you are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. On top of that, the longer and more often you think of those past problems, the harder it is to salvage your psychological well-being. Furthermore, negative thinking is a hard cycle to break and it can lead to unhealthy coping skills like eating disorders or substance abuse problems.
However, whatever kind of painful memory you are dwelling on, there are ways to make them stop so you can feel better and behave in a more productive manner. Check out these five tips to stop ruminating, as shared by psychotherapist Stuart MacFarlane.
- Identify When It’s Happening
When you begin to replay that painful memory over and over again, take note of when you’re doing it and pay close attention to the time when it happens. The faster you notice yourself ruminating, the faster you can choose to do something more productive.
- Find Solutions
Dwelling over your problems is not helpful unless you are seeking to find a real solution. Ask yourself if you can actually do something to change the situation? If there is, facing the problem head-on might give you clarity and empower you to move on. Take the time to learn from your mistakes, to do what you can to solve the problem, to and move forward.
- Schedule ‘Thinking’ Time
You mind needs a chance to process everything that goes on in your daily life and you should schedule some alone time everyday to think, process, and reflect. Adding some ‘thinking’ time into your daily routine allows you to reorganize your thoughts so you can be more productive. Set aside about 20 minutes for the alone time and you’ll see a big difference as your week goes on.
- Set Up Distractions
While it’s unhealthy to bury something deep, it’s helpful to set up distractions that can keep you busy and productive. Perhaps you can exercise when you start to think of that old memory or you can call up a friend to chat about something completely different. Channel your actions into something more productive and useful rather than stewing over an old memory.
- Be Mindful
Mindfulness is the key to living in the moment and when you are completely present in the ‘now’ you’ll feel rejuvenated. Consider talking with a psychotherapist to go over ways you can be more mindful of your present self because it will go a long way to leading you to happiness.