When you get stuck thinking about the same thing over and over again, that’s called ruminating.

 Sometimes people get caught in a negative thought loop, or they stay awake at night remembering one embarrassing moment after another. People also ruminate about conversations, problems, or worries about the future.
When it lasts for a few minutes, it can be pretty annoying, but when ruminative thoughts last for days or weeks, you can really start to feel out of control. When you’re ruminating, it’s hard to stay present in your own life. You’re distracted and it’s easy to forget things. Ruminative thoughts can rob you of sleep, time, and peace.
So just stop the ruminative thoughts and think of something else, right? It would be nice if it were that simple! These kinds of thoughts are like magnets with an attractive pull that keeps them going on and on, even if they’re distressing. But thankfully, getting unstuck is possible.
Here are two methods you can use to get out of exhausting thought loops:
1.       Get Into Your Emotions:
What makes ruminative thoughts so magnetic is that they usually cover up something even more uncomfortable: unpleasant emotions. When we’re feeling emotions that are intense, overwhelming, or that we’re ashamed of, ruminative thoughts often function as the perfect distraction.
When you catch yourself stuck in your thoughts, try asking yourself: “What am I feeling?” or “What am I trying not to feel, and why?”   Oftentimes, the moment we stop to give those feelings some space, the ruminative thoughts clear up. Given a little time, the emotions pass as well, and we start feeling better again.
If the emotions are too overwhelming or feel too threatening, consider working with a counselor who can help coach you through them in a way that feels safer for you.
2.       Get Into Your Body:
Ruminative thoughts tend to take us out of our bodies, keeping us stuck in our minds instead. So we can combat unwanted thoughts by shifting focus to our bodies. This can be done through a variety of ways:
·         Deep breathing
·         Exercise
·         Sports
·         Yoga
·         Gardening
·         Tasting a strong flavor
·         Smelling a pleasant scent
·         Using fidget toys
When you focus on your five senses, it grounds you to your body and the thoughts begin to lose their power. Getting into your body can also help you recharge after processing difficult emotions. This method and the previous one work best when used together.
If your ruminative thoughts stem from anxiety and end up keeping you awake at night, here’s a link to some free guided progressive muscle relaxation, an excellent tool for getting back into your body and back to sleep:
Centering yourself in your emotions and body can help keep your thoughts from running the whole show.