Have you ever been stressed all day because you can’t 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 an online study, almost 95% of the people find themselves in rumination mode either sometimes or often–but it can be harmful to physical and emotional well being.
The word rumination literally refers to the way that certain animals (such as cows) eat, storing their partially-digested food in a special stomach called a rumen, to be brought back up later and chewed more thoroughly. When we speak about rumination in the context of humans, however, we are talking about a compulsion to repeatedly dwell on events from the past.
It is actually a quick fix. People use obsessive thoughts to blunt the fear of uncertainty, and use judgment as in the hope of forcing themselves or others to do better. In the form of worry, rumination tries to prepare you for every bad thing that might happen. In the form of good-bad evaluation, it tries to perfect a flawed self and flawed world. But these efforts never work. Ultimately, rumination keeps you focused on what’s bothering you, so its net effect is that you feel more anxious, more angry or a greater sense of loss and disappointment.
Three forms of rumination were proposed by Mikulincer (1996):
- State rumination, which involves dwelling on the consequences and feelings associated with the failure. State rumination is more common in people who are pessimistic, neurotic, and who have negative attribution styles.
- Action rumination, which consists of task-oriented thought processes focused on goal-achievement and correction of mistakes.
- Task-irrelevant rumination, which utilizes events or people unassociated with the blocked goal to distract a person from the failure.
Major variables of the Rumination
Rumination is comprised of two separate variables — reflection and brooding.
Reflection: it is 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.
Brooding: is associated with less proactive behavior and more of a negative mood. Co-rumination, where you repeat a situation with friends until you’ve 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, you’re likely making yourself feel more stressed. And you are also likely experiencing some of the negative effects of rumination.
The fee of Rumination you have to pay!!
Rumination can be oddly irresistible, and can steal an hour of your attention before you even realize that you’re obsessing again. In addition to dividing your attention, however, rumination has several negative effects.
Studies show that rumination can raise your cortisol levels, signifying a physical response to stress resulting from rumination. Now many techniques are available to handle the ruminations and the resultant stress, so that the person can enjoy the life at full.
Negative Frame of Mind
Not surprisingly, rumination is said to have a negative effect, or produce more depressed, unhappy mood. Not only is this unpleasant in itself, this brings a whole new set of consequences.
Less proactive behavior
While people may get into a ruminating frame of mind with the intention of working through the problem and finding a solution, research has shown that excessive rumination is associated with less proactive behavior, higher disengagement from problems, and an even more negative state of mind as a result. That means that rumination can contribute to a downward spiral of negativity.
Research has linked rumination with negative coping behaviors, like binge eating. Self-sabotaging types of coping behavior can create more stress, perpetuating a negative and destructive cycle.
There is a strong connection between rumination and hypertension. Rumination may prolong the stress response, which increases the negative impact of stress on the heart. Because of the health risks involved in hypertension, it’s particularly important to combat rumination and find healthy strategies for dealing with stress and staying centered.
How to get out of the trap of rumination?
Rumination actually consumes your mental and emotional energies by keeping you more and more preoccupied with some negativity of past and negative predictions of future. This preoccupation does not let you enjoy the present not even stay connected with the reality of the present moment. So, to handle the ruminations one needs to learn some new skills, which are as under:
Mindfulness is a major tool to be learned, if you want to get of the trap of rumination. It teaches us to be fully present in the current moment. It targets the ruminative mind by making the person able to stay focused with whatever is going on in the here and now.
Accept your thoughts:
We human beings usually push away our thoughts and feelings which are distressing or anxiety provoking. Here we are in a battle with our brain. The fact is that our brain creates all sorts of thoughts both negative and positive. If we start focusing on each and every thought and start behaving according, then our most of the energies would be drained down so soon, and we are left with little energy to face other challenges of the life effectively. So, don’t push away your thoughts, accept them as a part of your thought processes and be non judgmental towards them.
Accept other realities:
Mindfulness helps you to experience other real tings in your current situation. Any upsetting emotion which has been aroused as a result of some rumination is just one part of the current reality not the whole reality. So be connected with other parts of the reality which may not be getting your attention.