Have you ever been stressed all day because you can’t stop thinking of something unfair that happened that morning? Or the previous week? And then you can’t sleep because it’s on your mind all the time? Yep–been there, done that. And when these thoughts turn more negative and brooding, that’s not good news; I call it rumination.
Rumination has two components: reflection and brooding.
The reflection part of rumination can actually be somewhat helpful — reflecting on a problem can lead to a solution. It can also help you process strong emotions associated with the issue. But if you rehash a situation with friends (co-rumination) until you’ve talked it to death, this brings more stress to both parties. If you constantly replay something in your mind and dwell on the injustice of it all, thinking about what you should have said or done without taking any corresponding action, you probably are making yourself feel even more stressed. In fact, studies show that rumination can raise your cortisol levels, signifying a physical response to stress resulting from rumination.
Stress: We can relieve a big chunk of stress by drastically cut down on rumination, which leads to a less stressed state of mind.
Less Proactive Behavior: Maybe we get into a ruminating frame of mind because we want to work through the problem and solution, but excessive rumination is actually associated with less proactive behavior, higher disengagement from problems, and an even more negative state of mind as a result. We wind up having negative coping behaviors, like binge eating–self-sabotaging ourselves, which produces even more stress…
Hypertension: We know that rumination prolongs the stress response, which raises your blood pressure and increases the negative impact of stress on the heart. Yikes!
Actively combatting rumination and find healthy strategies for dealing with stress and staying centered is seriously important! So, my friend, think about what you are thinking about, and let it go. Some things are just not worth it.