What is Ruminating?

Ruminating is when a person constantly replays or obsesses over negative situations, and it can feel like a broken record. Ruminating is like getting stuck on a groove in a record. You replay the same thoughts over and over until it is nearly impossible to stop. Even when everything is going well, there tends to be a hyper focus on the one negative thing that happened during the day.

Reflecting on past experiences can be helpful in problem-solving and overcoming dilemmas, but brooding rumination takes this to the next level. It offers few new insights and often serves to intensify our negative feelings, focusing on the things that are not going well instead of seeing the larger picture. Rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use, and binge-eating.

Signs and Symptoms of Ruminating:

  • When we replay the same conversations in our minds but with different reactions on our part. We may think things like, “If I had only said this instead.” We may beat ourselves up for not saying or doing the perfect things to be in control of a situation.
  • When there is worry about the same things over and over with multiple bad outcomes, it comes with a constant barrage of “what if” thoughts. These persistent ruminating thoughts can leave a person feeling immobilised or disabled to do the things they need to do.
  • Ruminating can include incessant worrying right at bedtime which creates unhelpful sleeping patterns and/or insomnia. These intrusive thoughts can include negative images of how the day did not go as expected. It can also include worrying about all the things we have not yet done and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Ruminating can cause physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, fatigue, or stomach aches. In addition, ruminating can affect a person’s normal eating habits, either overeating or not eating enough.
  • Ruminating thoughts interfere with a person’s ability and capability to work, parent, or function effectively on a daily basis.

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