Rumination, the habit of overthinking

Robert Johnston
Rumination, the habit of overthinking

There are people who, after an argument with their partner, a failure at work or any other event, spend hours mulling over what happened, generating unproductive thoughts and preventing the development of a satisfactory life. An excess of this type of thinking is what we will call rumination.


  • What is rumination?
  • What consequences can rumination?
    • Addictive effect
    • Makes other disorders more likely
    • Increased negative thoughts in general
    • Stress levels increase
  • How to try to avoid rumination
    • Stop thinking suddenly
    • Focus on the present
    • Try to identify the moments in which it occurs
    • Know the content or basic idea that exists in rumination
    • Move the body to move the mind
    • Bibliography

What is rumination?

They are persistent harmful thoughts, that is, they appear over and over again giving rise to feelings of frustration. In the person there is a struggle between wanting to stop thinking about an event and not being able to stop doing it, a presence of negative thoughts about what is being experienced, about oneself or about the environment. The same scene is constantly relived, a breakup, a criticism, a mistake made in the past. Every little detail of the situation continues to be analyzed without being able to solve anything because that has already happened.

A characteristic of ruminations is that they do not pursue the objective of solving the problem. We do not come to any conclusion that brings us relief, but rather what we do in remembering a specific situation over and over again, keeping in us the emotions of anger and sadness that we had at the time. They are thoughts that do not solve anything, on the contrary, they become a problem in themselves. The person is trapped in their own loop of thoughts, this makes it difficult for them to take initiatives that allow them to be distracted and on which to concentrate.

Rumination increases inactivity and with it the moments when our mind is not occupied, it will be then when rumination tends to have greater frequency and intensity..

Rumination occurs above all in people with depressive disorders more frequently than the rest of the general population, who can also have them at certain times, as they do not stop thinking repeatedly and from different angles the situations, increases the state of sadness since it is not able to find a solution.

What consequences can rumination?

Addictive effect

If we get used to focusing our attention on the bad we may develop the need to keep doing it and it becomes increasingly difficult to stop the circle.

Makes the occurrence of other disorders more likely

Maintaining these negative emotions for a long time can lead us to suffer from anxiety problems and depressive symptoms.

Increased negative thoughts in general

If we get into the habit of ruminating, it is possible that we tend to view other aspects in our life negatively..

Stress levels increase

It not only increases emotional stress, but also physical stress, increasing the probability of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Thus, taking into account how it can affect the state of the person, it is important to try to minimize its effects, reducing the number of occasions that appear to us and at the same time cutting the vicious circle that activates it..

How to try to avoid rumination

Although there are some techniques that can help, they are not magic solutions, so we must be constant in their use to be effective.

Stop thinking suddenly

The moment the person realizes that they are ruminating, try to stop thinking about it. You can use a signal created by the person, such as imagining a stop sign or saying out loud Enough!

Focus on the present

Another way to avoid rumination is to be totally focused on the present, the here and now, since rumination consists of reliving a negative and past event over and over again. For this, it is highly recommended to practice mindfulness.

Try to identify the moments in which it occurs

Boredom moments, before going to sleep, when something has not turned out as we thought, and then looking for an activity that forces us to be mentally busy at this time.

Know the content or basic idea that exists in rumination

This will allow us to know the main thread of the concerns and to be able to analyze them at other times to see if they are true or are distorted interpretations of our reality..

Move the body to move the mind

The sport; aids in the release of endorphins and requires concentration on a task in real time.

These resources are personal and everyone may have a predilection for some of them or a combination of both, so it is interesting to practice them in different contexts to be able to generalize them as much as possible. If we have written down the things that work for us, it will be easier to carry them out in times of crisis to stop these thoughts. Definitely the important thing is to occupy or distract the mind so that rumination does not become chronic and prevent us from enjoying life in a calm way.


Fernández Marcos, T. (2017). The interference of obsessive rumination in attention. (Doctoral thesis)

Biglieri, R. R. (2004). Cognitive therapy in obsessive rumination patients. ERTE, 15 (56), 85-90.

Yet No Comments