I am guilty. How about you? Are you a ruminator?
So I have these situations and problems that I obsess over every day. I don’t want to, really I don’t. My morning ritual once the house is empty is to meditate and then do my bible reading and praying. You’d think that I’d be ready for the day then after all that mind, body and spirit empowerment. Nope. Sadly, it’s a minute by minute struggle for me to break my negative thinking.
Rumination is when you dwell on a situation that didn’t go your way and the more you try NOT to think about it, the more obsessed with it you become. Believe it or not, science says it’s wired into our DNA. Ruminating also can make you sick. There was a study done in Germany that showed rumination boosts the body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone. If these levels stay elevated and our bodies are not able to release them, we can get the flu. When we rehash our problems over and over in our minds, we make ourselves miserable. Rumination leads you to feel more pessimistic, anxious and out of control. So if I feel this way about my situation then how do I solve the problem?
I found these suggestions helpful to me and I hope you find them helpful as well to break free from negative thinking and begin to feel happier as you clear your mind.
Live by the 15 minute rule. Yup, set aside 15 minutes a day to ruminate! I guess I have to add that to the morning routine now. If you begin to dwell on it again after that 15 minute approved time, write it down and remind yourself you will think about it later. Then turn back to the present moment.
Solve, don’t stew. Make a plan. Note what you can control and take action on what you can take action on.
Focus on the body, move. It’s hard to obsess when you are concentrating on your body. Exercise also helps lower those nasty cortisol levels. Even a few jumping jacks or some yoga poses will help balance emotions.
Keep it fun! If you are looking for an activity to get your mind off those nasty ruminating thoughts, choose activities you find enjoyable, mentally challenging and calming.
Find a friend. Distractions will pull us away from ruminating. What better than time with a friend. Just don’t spend the whole time whining with the wine!
Here’s to living healthy!