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« 20. How to stop ruminating »

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited user of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and internationally recognised Emotional Intelligence Coach.

I have been reflecting on rumination, as many of my clients seem to suffer from it or do it. I found myself doing it the other day too, in response to a cruise missile - my husband's name for a nasty unexpected email!

Why rumination is bad for you

  1. It uses up and wastes your energy. This means you have less energy available for the more positive and beneficial aspects of your life.
  2. It uses up and diverts your focus and attention so that you might miss positive things and different perspectives that could benefit you.
  3. You are more likely to experience depression after stress.
  4. You may be less resilient. Research shows that individuals who do not ruminate are more resilient.
  5. It chews up imagination, creativity and the ability to innovate in more positive ways.
  6. Rumination keeps a negative experience going for longer.

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Five quick ways to stop ruminating

  1. Stand in front of the mirror and say out loud the negative thoughts that you are ruminating on in a really silly, squeaky voice until they sound really silly and they no longer seem serious and you laugh.
  2. Stand in front of the mirror and say out loud the negative thoughts that you are ruminating on while pulling the silliest faces that you can possibly imagine until the thoughts no longer seem serious and you laugh.
  3. Write them down in a journal and the response that you would like to say, even though you would never say it, until you've worked through the anger, bitterness, resentment, hurt, indignation, powerlessness or whatever the emotions are that are fuelling the rumination.
  4. Say the thoughts out loud whilst tapping on psychological acupressure points. See this article: Tapping Anxiety Away for more information.
  5. Exercise vigorously - exercise has been found to be very helpful in instances of anxiety, anger and depression.

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