Numerous strategies can help with rumination. People with depression, anxiety, or other mental health diagnoses may find that they need to try several strategies before one works.
It can be useful to keep track of effective strategies so that when rumination feels overwhelming, it is possible to turn to a list of methods that have worked previously.
People may find the following tips helpful:
- Avoid rumination triggers: Some people find that specific factors trigger rumination. They may wish to limit access to these triggers if it is possible to do so without undermining their quality of life. For instance, a person could try putting themselves on a media diet if the news makes them feel depressed, or they could stop reading fashion magazines if these publications make them feel unattractive.
- Spend time in nature: A 2014 study found that people who went on a 90-minute nature walk reported fewer symptoms of rumination after their walk than those who walked through an urban area instead.
- Exercise: Numerous studies have found that exercise can improve mental health, especially over time. However, a 2018 study reported that even a single session of exercise could reduce symptoms of rumination among inpatients with a mental health diagnosis. People may find that pairing exercise with time outside gives them the best results.
- Distraction: Disrupt ruminating thought cycles with something distracting. Thinking about something interesting and complex may help, while fun, challenging activities, such as complex puzzles, may also offer relief.
- Interrogation: People can try to interrogate ruminating thoughts by considering that they might not be helpful or based in reality. Perfectionists should remind themselves that perfectionism is unattainable. Those who tend to concern themselves with what other people think should consider that others are more concerned with their own perceived shortcomings and fears.
- Increase self-esteem: Some people ruminate when they do poorly at something that is very important to them, such as a beloved sport or important academic achievement. By expanding their interests and building new sources of self-esteem, a person can make a single defeat feel less difficult.
- Meditation: Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, may help a person better understand the connection between their thoughts and feelings. Over time, meditation can offer people greater control over seemingly automatic thoughts, making it easier to avoid rumination.
Alternatively, therapy may help a person regain control over their thoughts, detect signs of rumination, and choose healthier thought processes.
Some forms of mental health therapy, such as rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (RFCBT), specifically target rumination to help a person gain more control over their thoughts.
While traditional cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing the content of thoughts, RFCBT attempts to alter the thinking process instead.