Have you ever found yourself stuck in a pattern of looping thoughts that seem to lead nowhere? Do you often waste hours trying to make sense of problems in your head, only to end up with zero solutions and lots of wasted time? Instead of finding resolutions and relief, do you end up in an even worse mental state than before?
Well, what you are doing is known as ruminating, and it is not good for you. Apart from wasting your time, this habit also wreaks havoc on your peace of mind.
Stay with us as we help you figure out how to stop ruminating and, consequently, destroying your mental health.
Unhealthy Thought Patterns
You must be wondering what the criterion is for distinguishing healthy thought patterns from unhealthy ones. The difference lies in the productivity of your chain of thought.
Moreover, it does us no good to limit productivity to physically manifestable solutions. In fact, an emotional resolution is as much an indicator of productivity as is a tangible solution.
Healthy thought patterns lead to a sense of peace, whether it is achieved by visible problem solving or simple mental stability. But, on the other hand, unhealthy thought patterns send us deeper into a pit of our own making. Therefore, the difference between unhealthy and healthy chains of thought is actually the difference between rumination and problem-solving.
Now that we know what we are targeting let’s find out how to stop repetitive thoughts from muddling with our heads.
How to Stop Ruminating
Training our neural pathways to adopt healthier patterns of thought processing is not a short-term task. It is important to understand that one cannot simply learn how to stop repetitive thoughts overnight. However, here are some tips that you can start putting into consistent practice to get results.
1. Consciously Examine Your Thoughts
Self-awareness is one of the key aspects of emotional intelligence. If there is one thing that has the ability to set one human apart from another, it is the ability to reflect upon one’s behavior and make changes accordingly.
Additionally, self-reflection helps us heal ourselves on our own terms. As a result, we are much more accepting of and responsive towards opinions formed on our own than we are to someone else pointing our flaws out of us.
It is important to remember how Sigmund Freud describes the purpose of psychological analysis: “Psychoanalysis aims to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy.”
An important aspect of learning how to stop repetitive thoughts is to recognize that they are the root of this “neurotic unhappiness.” Thus, the mental exhaustion and discomfort you feel can be tackled and treated.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when dealing with recurring thoughts.
Is This Relevant to the Task I Am Currently Performing?
Chances are, it’s not. This will help you figure out exactly how much priority you must give to these thoughts at the moment.
Is It Constructive?
You must understand which thoughts are either constructive or neutral and which are outright destructive. A good awareness of this will help you direct your focus meaningfully.
Is There A Solution In Sight?
No? Then you know that there is no use in going in circles about it.
Is There Anything At All That I Can Do About It Right Now?
Yes? Alright, you can focus on problem-solving now.
No? No point stewing over it.
Is There Something Much More Helpful That I Can Do Instead?
There is a good chance there is. Diverting your attention to a more manageable issue will not only rid you of uncomfortable thought loops but will also give you a sense of purpose.
2. Let Your Frustration Out
The world can often get overwhelming, and we need an outlet for our pent-up frustrations. Although many people find this outlet in the form of venting it out, psychology is less sure about the success of this coping mechanism. Venting has its pros and cons too.
However, here is a list of healthier ways in which you can let it all out:
- Journaling your way through messy thought patterns
- Blogging away your frustrations (if you are comfortable with the exposure)
- Creating art that allows you to express yourself
- Moving your body and channeling your nervous energy into physical activity
- Being open and authentic about your struggles on social media
3. Distract Yourself
Despite the negative connotation attached to the word, distraction is not as evil a phenomenon as one might think.
Overwhelming thoughts and emotions naturally lead to impaired judgment. In times like that, distraction acts as the much-needed barrier between stimulus and response. It allows us to have the time to process and assimilate our emotions and prevents us from making impulsive decisions.
Moreover, distractions need not be loud and disturbing. A favorite movie, TV show, book, or piece of music can help you recenter yourself.
However, make sure not to depend on distractions to get you through tough times. Knowing how to process emotions is a life skill that will always keep you one step ahead.
4. Cultivate Balance In Your Life
Although we are all tired of hearing it, this piece of advice is worth all the redundancy it comes with. Our body and mind are intertwined. One cannot stay healthy without the other.
Good routines not only keep our body fit but also calm the mind. In addition to that, finding the proper balance between work and social life is essential to keeping our thoughts focused.
Remember: too much introspection can quickly turn into rumination.
Learning how to stop ruminating ultimately comes down to learning how to be self-aware. However, you must also remember to take action lest self-reflection turns into more rumination. Small steps add up to big changes and growth that you can be proud of.
In any case, remember to be gentle with yourself. Allow your mind to heal and your thoughts to settle at their own pace. It is important not to break further under the pressure of “fixing” oneself.
We wish you a smooth journey and good health.