Life Coach Session: How to stop obsessive thoughts or rumination

How to stop obsessive thoughts or rumination?

Have you ever experienced having a single thought or a series of related thoughts that just keep repeating themselves? 

Rumination is the practice of repeatedly pondering the same, frequently depressing or sinister, thoughts. 

Rumination is a habit that can be harmful to your mental health since it can exacerbate or prolong depression and make it harder for you to think clearly and process your feelings. Additionally, it could make you feel alone and actually drive people away.

Obsessive thoughts may start as intrusive thoughts, but they’re different in that they’re more intense, frequent, and upsetting.

Sometimes, obsessive thinking is similar to rumination, a common feature of those who live with an anxiety disorder. 

The main difference is that rumination creates a distressing loop about the past, while obsessive thinking may also generate fear about the possibilities of the future.

So, what can you do to stop these obsessive thoughts from running through your mind?

Here are the tips to try when you begin to experience the same thought, or set of thoughts, swirling around your head:

Distract yourself

When you realise you’re starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. Look around you, quickly choose something else to do, and don’t give it a second thought. Consider:

  • calling a friend or family member
  • doing chores around your house
  • watching a movie
  • drawing a picture
  • reading a book
  • walking around your neighbourhood

Accept that Thoughts are Largely Out of Your Control

The next step to stop obsessive thinking is acceptance. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts — a series of neurons firing in the brain, nothing more. As we learn to accept obsessive thoughts, we’ll have a much better chance of stopping them altogether.

To accept obsessive thoughts, plant yourself firmly in the present and be realistic about what you do and do not have control over.

Plan to take action

Instead of repeating the same negative thought over and over again, take that thought and make a plan to take action to address it.

In your head, outline each step you need to take to address the problem, or write it down on a piece of paper. Be as specific as possible and also realistic with your expectations.

Doing this will disrupt your rumination. It will also help you move forward in the attempt to get a negative thought out of your head once and for all.

Explore Meditation and Mindfulness Benefits

Partly why obsessive thinking feels so uncomfortable is due to the icky emotions that accompany intrusive thoughts. While you work to cognitively challenge ruminations by naming and accepting them, using mindfulness meditation exercises can help quell the resulting negative emotional responses.

When obsessive thinking enters the scene, try deep breathing exercises by breathing in slowly to the count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, and then exhale for another count of four. Grounding exercises can also help break the rumination cycle of unwanted intrusive thoughts. Anchor yourself in the present by focusing on the feeling of your feet planted on the ground. Take in your surroundings with all your senses, identifying in turn five things you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel to get into “right now.”

Question your thoughts

We often ruminate when we think we’ve made a major mistake or when something traumatic has happened to us that we feel responsible for.

If you start ruminating on a troubling thought, try putting your repetitive thought in perspective.

Thinking more about how your troubling thought might not be accurate may help you stop ruminating because you realise the thought makes little sense.

Understand your triggers

Each time you find yourself ruminating, make a mental note of the situation you’re in. This includes where you are, what time of day it is, who’s around you (if anyone), and what you’ve been doing that day.

Developing ways to avoid or manage these triggers can reduce your rumination.

Readjust your life’s goals

Perfectionism and unrealistic goal setting can lead to rumination. If you set goals that are unrealistic, you may start to focus on why and how you haven’t reached a goal, or what you should have done to reach it.

Setting more realistic goals that you’re capable of achieving can reduce the risks of overthinking your own actions.

Reach Out to a Professional if Needed

Obsessive thinking is a normal part of human nature, but it can also be the hallmark of a variety of mental illnesses, particularly obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a range of other anxiety disorders.

If you find yourself struggling with disturbing and persistent obsessive thoughts, or just want a little extra boost to manage obsessive thinking, reach out to a mental health professional. 

2 responses to “Life Coach Session: How to stop obsessive thoughts or rumination”

  1. Obsessive thoughts can also cause actual Physical Disorders . Diabetes known to be caused by a need for. Grief and Disappontment . Arthritis aka. Lupus is an
    Anxiety Disorder caused by obsessive dread of somekind of Trajedy happening in the near future not just to themselves but to a love one .

    Liked by 1 person

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