The Loop of Thoughts, Rumination

What is rumination: Rumination is the process where you find yourself continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark. Ruminating is like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying an argument with a friend in your mind. It’s retracing past mistakes.
Rumination can negatively impact your mental health if it becomes a habit, which most times it does as we’ve all been there once you start to overthink then, you find yourself stuck like cement in your loop of thoughts. 

As ruminating Concours more negative thoughts, it becomes a cycle that can lead to:

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Binge- drinking 
  • Binge- Eating 

What causes rumination to happen: When people are feeling down they are more likely to start to think about the negative events that took place throughout their life. Which leads them to interpret their current life situations more negatively, and results in being hopeless towards the future. Moreover, rumination can also become the fast track to feeling helpless, as it causes our problem-solving skills to become paralyzed. This happens when our minds are preoccupied with negative thoughts from the past. For example, when you obsess over a conversation you had and how it could have gone differently, the big “what if ?”. Thoughts like these are what occupy our brain and paralyze our problem- solving skills.  

How rumination is the similarity between anxiety and depression:  One of the similarities between depression and anxiety is rumination. As depression makes us feel inadequate and worthless, it the leading to the repetition of the feeling of inadequate which raises anxiety. As the anxiety interferes with solving the problem, depression deepens. 

How to address ruminating thoughts:

Distract yourself:  When you find yourself starting to ruminate, find a distraction to break your thought cycle. Look around and choose something to do, the faster you find a distraction the easier it is to stop the rumination. 


  • Calling a friend or family member
  • Doing chores around your house
  • Watching a movie
  • Drawing a picture
  • Reading a book
  • Walking around your neighborhood

Take action: Instead of repeating the same thoughts over and over, start to think of a solution. Start by coming up with a plan to take action. On a piece of paper OR in your mind, start planning the steps you need to take to address the problem, you want to be as specific and realistic as possible. Taking this step will not only stop the ruminating at the moment but also help you move forward to getting rid of the negative thoughts for a long period of time or maybe even forever! 

Next, you want to take the plan you came up with and take action. Start by taking one step at a time and over time your mind will be put at ease. 

Readjust your life goals: Having unrealistic goals in life can lead to rumination. Go over your goals, and take a look at why and how you haven’t reached a goal, or what you should have done to reach the goal. Setting more realistic goals reduces the risks of overthinking. 

Work on improving your self-esteem: Lack of self-esteem can be associated with increased rumination and increased risk of depression. Enhancing your self-esteem can be done in many ways. One of the ways is to build on existing strengths, this will add a sense of mastery which leads to satisfaction with ourselves.

Try meditating: Meditating helps clear the mind and emotionally calm you, which is a great way to escape ruminating. When you find yourself overthinking and getting looped back in your thoughts, find a quiet area, sit down, take deep breaths, and focus on your breathing. This will help clear your mind!

Understanding your triggers:  Try taking a mental note of the situation you’re in every time you find yourself ruminating. This includes, where you are, what you’ve been doing all day, who you are around, and what time of the day it is. This way you can understand a little bit more about what causes you to ruminate and use that knowledge to help you avoid it. 

Talk to a friend: Being all alone with your thoughts might make you feel isolated and alone. Talking to someone can give you some insight from a different perspective and can help you break the cycle. 

Try therapy: If you find that your ruminating thoughts are taking over your life, you may want to consider therapy. They can help you identify the cause of your rumination and how to address the problems at their core.

Overall, ruminating is normal as we all overthink and get caught up in our thoughts, however, it can be unhealthy. Especially if you find yourself constantly ruminating, which is why it’s important to know some tips that may help you to stop your thought cycle in its tracks before it spirals out of control. If you are a ruminator, don’t worry it is possible to stop, with awareness and some lifestyle changes, it is possible to free yourself from ruminating thoughts. It’s essential to put a stop to the rumination so that it doesn’t take over your life. It’s time to take back control and free your mind! 

Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.

Work cited: 

Cirino, E. (2019, April 18). 10 Tips to Help You Stop Ruminating. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-ruminating

Margarita Tartakovsky, M. (2011, January 20). Why Ruminating is Unhealthy and How to Stop. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-ruminating-is-unhealthy-and-how-to-stop#4

Wehrenberg, M. (2016, April 20). Rumination: A Problem in Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201604/rumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression

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