When I think about the word rumination, it sounds so pretty. I mean, doesn’t it? I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and I find words “pretty”, or maybe I’m just weird. But, I digress. I have been thinking a lot, about many things. Which brings me to the whole point of this post. Rumination.
What is rumination? It’s where you get a certain thought stuck in your head, and it just keeps playing out over and over. Maybe there are slight variations on it, but the same underlying thought is always there. I have a huge problem with this myself. Ever since I’ve been a child, I’ve always had terrible self esteem, I thought I was the most terrible person, ugly, you name it and I’ve felt it. Once I got a thought stuck in my head, I just couldn’t get rid of it. It’s really not a fun feeling at all.
Something just happens that flips that ‘switch’ in my head and I can’t shake the dreadful feelings. These moments are especially prevalent when I am in a lot of pain. I feel as though I am worthless, and lazy, and all those other nasty describing words you can think of. From there, it generally snowballs into feelings of depression and despair. As you can see, it’s not really a fun situation to be in.
As someone who lives with chronic pain, I am sure that some of you are able to relate to this, if only a little bit. We are the hardest on ourselves. I think that stems from when we were our healthier selves, when we were able to do more when we physically were able to. We end up beating ourselves up so bad, and in reality, we do not deserve that in the least bit. If nothing else, we are stronger because of our chronic illnesses, we are just a more emotionally evolved version of our previous self.
So how can you stop ruminating? Well, one of the things that I learned, even though it may sound silly at first, if you have a thought that you just can’t get ‘unstuck’, what you can start with is by saying the word ‘STOP’ out loud. The theory behind this is that it will re-train your brain to think about something else. You may have to do it more then once for it to start working.
1. One way to stop your rumination is to read a book, watch a television show or a movie, play a game, play with your pets, whatever you can think of that you enjoy doing! Pick up a hobby, just do something that takes your mind away from what you are thinking/ruminating about.
2. The other way that you can stop your ruminating thoughts is to play the ‘ABC’ game. This is by far, my favorite way to take my mind and put it on something else entirely. So how do you play it? Think of a topic that you know really well, or something you love. It can be a hobby (I always choose beads and gemstones!), movies with a particular actor, colors, animals, anything really! Try to make it a tiny bit challenging so that you can really put your mind into thinking about it!
Go in alphabetical order and for each letter, think of a word that pertains to the topic that you chose! For example, using my beads and gemstones: A is for Abalone, B is for Bead, C is for Cat’s Eye, D is for Druzy. It goes on and on from there! You can do this in your head, write it down on a piece of paper, or say it out loud, it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it! It’s really fun once you get into it! And before you know it, your thoughts are gone!
3. Talk to someone. Please, please, talk to someone. We can get really get caught up within our minds, and it can be hard to get out of that rut. If you have someone that you are close to, whether it be your husband, significant other, parents, a close friend, talk to them. You don't even have to tell them what's going on, just strike up a conversation about anything! Again, soon you'll forget about what you were upset about in the first place.
4. Take a walk. Go outside and enjoy the little things. Listen to a creek as it bubbles and burbles. Listen to the birds singing, look up at the sky and make shapes out of the clouds. There are so many things that you can do to keep your mind occupied!
Rumination is going to always be a part of the way the mind works. But we can change the cycle of how often it happens by taking a few simple steps like the ones above!