How to Reduce Worry and Rumination

May 9, 2019
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Worrying is something we all do. Even the most laid-back person worries about something. We worry about our futures, our jobs, and our relationships (just to name a few). It is something we all do. Sometimes those worries lead to rumination. Worries can grow into almost an obsession where they dominate our thoughts. Those thoughts can sometimes leave us in a vicious cycle of obsessing over our worries and fears. It is helpful to think through potential issues or learn from our past. However, constant ruminating and worrying can prevent us from enjoying our lives. Even though we all experience our own anxieties, it is important to think about how to manage worry and prevent constant rumination.

Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being aware of our own thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the present moment. We often get stuck running through the motions without really being aware of why we do what we do or feel the way we feel. Mindfulness helps us become more aware of what we are feeling in the moment. It also helps give us insight as we make sense of what are feelings and experiences are revealing to us. Practicing mindfulness can help us become more aware of worry and rumination which ultimately gives the power to intervene for ourselves and allow change to happen.

Utilize tools to focus the mind on something else. Worry and rumination can take over our lives if we allow them. Worrying can take over in such a way that we lose sight of what really matters to us. It can be helpful to be reminded of what we care about most. When we worry, our energy goes towards those the “what ifs” and past events. Focusing on what is important to us and pouring our energy into what we find meaningful can help us shift our mind toward something else.

Understand what the worry is rooted in. Sometimes we blindly worry about all kinds of things and some of those worries may even be irrational in nature. We might find ourselves obsessing over concerns that do not really seem to matter. However, we are still crippled with worry and maybe we do not even know why. Worry can be rooted in something deeper like a fear we might not be aware of or a fear we have pushed away from ourselves. Understanding where the worry is rooted can allow us to address the real issue.

Channel the worry into something else. Worry, fear, and anxiety are all sources of energy. They are uncomfortable sources of energy, but they are energy nonetheless. It can be valuable to channel that type of energy into something. Ruminating can be unproductive and distressing. It is helpful to find an outlet for our worries. It can involve activities like exercise, being creative, making something, journaling, or music. Everyone can find what works for them and channel the worry into something that is more positive.

Build up confidence in yourself. Sometimes worrying and ruminating about something involves questioning whether or not we are capable of handling whatever comes our way. Letting go of what we cannot control can help us worry less. It can be easier said than done. Part of letting go involves having a certain confidence in ourselves, feeling that we can handle the unexpected or even difficult life events. Building confidence in ourselves and our own emotional resiliency can help us worry less about what we cannot control.

Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology.  Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.