Rumination: the boring vicious cycle of thought

While humans have a good capacity for inventiveness, it is also true that we are not always particularly imaginative and spontaneous.

There are situations that make us more likely to lead our minds down the same known paths over and over again, as if we were vinyl. These vicious circles of thought not only slow down our creativity, but they transform whatever over time makes us feel worse.

What in psychology is called rumination is an example.

What is rumination?

Rumination of thought is the psychological phenomenon that appears when our center of attention “gets stuck” in a real or imaginary element which causes us stress and discomfort. In other words, in rumination there is a paradox: something like thought, which by definition is dynamic and constantly evolving, becomes almost static and closed in a circuit which makes it move in loops.

Where there is rumination, there is also a person who is unable to think without many of the things they are experiencing, whether they are external stimuli or memories, making them think about their discomfort and its causes. . When we find so many references causing this feeling of sadness and anguish, whatever we turn our attention to becomes a trap that we fall into until we return to where we were before. : consideration of the things that worry us.

This repetitive process means that more and more of the experiences we have related to stress on previous occasions accumulate in our memory, so the variety of references to our discomfort increases over time.

When thought goes on the rails

One way or another, ruminating leads our thinking to adopt an automated and repetitive pattern based on a simple mechanism: t **** ots thoughts that come to mind will be turned together so that they relate to our discomfort. In this way, we lose our ability to focus and it is more difficult for us to manipulate ideas on purpose, as all of the elements will eventually shift our attention to a specific experience or thought that produces negative feelings in us.

As our thinking is caught in this loop, it is difficult for us to take initiatives that can serve to relieve this accumulated stress, and that will not cause us to find stimulating distractions to focus on.

The result of rumination of thought

In most cases, at some point the person who experiences rumination of thoughts spends enough time distracted to weaken the loop and bring down the stress level, but in other cases its persistence is associated with the onset of symptoms of depression.

In fact, one of the hallmarks of depression is a lack of motivation to be able to set goals that are not immediate, as well as a sedentary lifestyle. two factors also linked to rumination.

Three ways to break the loop

If instead of waiting for the rumination to go away on its own, we prefer to act on our own, there are strategies that can help in this regard.

The most useful and easy ways to reduce stress levels and free attention are:

1. Sport

Exercise is a great help in the fight against rumination, among other things because, while it makes us release endorphins, it forces us to focus on experiences that occur in real time.

After getting tired from exercising, our muscles aren’t the only ones to start to recover: neural connections also begin to connect to each other in new ways, Having been dedicated for some time to getting closer to the goal of each exercise.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety levels and diverting attention from sources of stress. While it is true that even during meditation our thinking does not stop (it does not even stop while we are sleeping), during these sessions it takes alternate paths, and it keeps us on the fringes of self-referential thought that creates loops of discomfort and stress.

Other forms of meditation might have such benefits as well, but they have not been so scientifically studied.

3. Walk

Something as simple as going for a walk can help you think more spontaneously., In addition to being used to release endorphins and relieve stress. If this is done in natural environments with vegetation and away from noise, the better.

As in nature there is an atmosphere that helps us to relax and at the same time it is difficult to find direct references to our daily routine and what causes us anxiety, these types of spaces are perfect for disconnect. During the time we spend in wild environments, our brain learns to function off the path marked by rumination, and this effect becomes fixed over time.

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