5 Strategies to Avoid Loop Thinking

It is clear that thinking is something necessary to solve most of the problems we face on a daily basis, but that does not mean that thinking more is always the best option. In fact, sometimes that’s part of the problem. This is what happens when we find that we are unable to avoid suffering in a loop, over and over again, and it prevents us from focusing on what would really benefit us.

To solve this class of problems, we will see here some psychological advice to avoid this tendency to think in a loop.

Why do we sometimes think in a loop?

The phenomenon of feeling that we spend time doing the same things over and over again and involuntarily, either recreating in our imagination an imaginary experience or memory, or thinking about an idea that “pulls” us emotionally, and feeling bad about it, is what is known as psychological rumination.

Another way to understand rumination is directing our attention again and again to those ideas or mental images that worry us or make us feel distress or anxiety, and why they force us to be alert, manipulating these mental contents in our head without stopping. In addition, this tendency to think in a loop locks us in a kind of vicious circle, since we remain focused on the harm that this experience makes us feel and how much we wish we could think of something else, instead of trying to do it. to approach in a constructive way and oriented towards the search for concrete solutions.

When we think in a loop for a long time, what is called a self-fulfilling prophecy arises: we attract to us those experiences that we anticipate, but which at the same time worry us and would like to avoid, since we are predisposed to feel vulnerable. to certain types of thoughts and experiences. For example, if we keep thinking that we have too much work accumulated to finish it in the time we have, this leads us to try not to think about it and to postpone our tasks even more, but at the same time that leads us to worry even more about what is happening to us… And we ended up doing nothing but suffer and think on repeatat the same time that we feel more compelled to continue down the path of mishandling the situation.

Helpful Strategies to Avoid Looping Over and Over

The most effective way to face and overcome this tendency to think in a loop is, with a difference, to go to consult a psychologist, because in this way we will have a professional expert in this field who will offer us a “training” program in the management of emotions and thoughts, adapting to our needs and characteristics. Ahora bien, más allá este facto, you can also apply to your daily life some general advice that often proves useful in the face of experiences of this type. They are summarized below.

1. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to control your thoughts.

Part of what keeps this tendency to think in a loop is that the person, feeling uneasy about the vicious cycle they find themselves in, tries desperately to control their thoughts, which only serves to feed feelings of anxiety and frustration. No one has the ability to choose exactly what to think and what not to think at any given time.and ignoring it leads to discomfort at best and mental health issues at worst.

Therefore, you have to mentalize that you will only get out of the thought loop by influencing your mental states in a more indirect way, and of course not blocking out ideas, thoughts, or imagined images when you are interested in them. This implies that for some time what is on your mind will remain in your awareness without you being able to avoid it, but how you react to it is up to you.

2. Opt for proactivity, not avoidance

Along the same lines as the previous tips, you need to be clear that the solution is not to try to avoid the thought or image that is causing you to think in a loop; on the contrary, the strategy you will have to adopt will not be based on elimination, but on addition. You need to incorporate other stimuli and mental content into your mind that can “engage” with your attentional focus. until you commit yourself totally to it, letting your concerns be displaced.

In the event that what you think about over and over again is a problem that you can step in to fix, keep in mind that those other thoughts that will serve you as a substitute for the other may be just fine for you to get to work and fix. to what you’re worried about Once you’ve started, the simple challenge of taking sequential actions to solve the problem will grab your attention and motivate you, because it’s very satisfying to overcome the fear of thinking about it and seeing that it does not help you progress. In these cases, the main obstacle is not to work on these tasks or responsibilities, but to accept not to devote a few minutes to them instead of trying to avoid thinking about them.

3. Manage your time by following a schedule

The looping thoughts generated by rumination are greatly reinforced by those times when we don’t know what to do and we feel compelled to deal with the uncertainty of how to manage our time, how to direct our attention and actions in the short term. . That is why it is recommended to have prepared in advance a fairly detailed scheduleso that you are less exposed to these situations and that you do not have to constantly make decisions of this kind.

4. Practice relaxation techniques

Combined with the previous tips for thinking in a loop, you can incorporate relaxation techniques such as controlled diaphragmatic breathing or Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.

This way you will do a mental “reset”. it will help you break the rumination loop.

5. Exercise

Although it may seem strange, physical exercise has a similar effect to relaxation techniques: we focus on the here and now, since our attention is directed to the stimuli that capture our senses and to the coordination of movements with the parts of the body. This means that we don’t have the ability to think of other, more abstract things that have nothing to do with performing these actions.

Would you like to benefit from professional psychological support?

If you need the help of a psychologist to deal with problems such as rumination and intrusive thoughts, contact me.

I am Tomas Santa Ceciliapsychologist, and I offer my services to individuals, couples, families and companies both in my practice located in Madrid and online through video call sessions.

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