Rumination And How It Affects Your
Have you ever been stressed all day because you cant stop thinking of something unfair that happened that morning? Or the previous week? This human tendency to obsess, trying to work things out in one's mind, is common. When these thoughts turn more negative and brooding, that's known as rumination.
Rumination is rather common--according to a poll on this site, roughly 95% of my readers find themselves in rumination mode either sometimes or often--but it can be harmful to physical and emotional wellbeing.
Rumination is comprised of two separate variables -- reflection and brooding. The reflection part of rumination can actually be somewhat helpful -- reflecting on a problem can lead you to a solution. Also, reflecting on certain events can help you process strong emotions associated with the issue. However, rumination in general, and brooding in particular, are associated with less proactive behavior and more of a negative mood. Co-rumination, where you rehash a situation with friends until youve talked it to death, also brings more stress to both parties. In short, if you find yourself constantly replaying something in your mind and dwelling on the injustice of it all, thinking about what you should have said or done, without taking any corresponding action, youre likely making yourself feel more stressed. And you are also likely experiencing some of the negative effects of rumination.
The Toll of Rumination
Rumination can be oddly irresistible, and can steal an hour of your attention before you even realize that youre obsessing again.
In addition to dividing your attention, however, rumination has several negative effects.
For proven strategies on reducing rumination and effectively dealing with emotional stress, see this article on letting go of stress and anger, or scroll down for additional resources. If a strong tendency toward rumination persists, it could be indicative of a greater problem; a therapist may be helpful in helping you let go.
What situations seem to lead to rumination in you? How do you put the breaks on rumination once you find yourself in its holding pattern?
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Feldner MT, Leen-Feldner EW, Zvolensky MJ, Lejuez CW. Examining the association between rumination, negative affectivity, and negative affect induced by a paced auditory serial addition task. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, September 2006.
Key BL, Campbell TS, Bacon SL, Gerin W. The influence of trait and state rumination on cardiovascular recovery from a negative emotional stressor. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, March 2008.
Lo CS, Ho SM, Hollon SD. The effects of rumination and negative cognitive styles on depression: A mediation analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, April, 2008.
Selby EA, Anestis MD, Joiner TE. Understanding
the relationship between emotional and behavioral dysregulation:
Emotional cascades. Behaviour Research and Therapy, May 2008.