Read time: 3 minutes
I was looking down at my computer keyboard and in the upper right corner is a pretty magical button. It is the button that we’re told to hit when our computer freezes, if our curser is acting weird, or if the hard drive needs a boost in order to be more effective with its processing the mass amount of information all computers process. It's called the reset button.
There it sits. Ready and willing to help. It's ready to give our hard-working computer a break. After all, a lot of us are working on a computer for 4 to 10 hours a day. That computer needs a break.
Like our computers that possess that magic reset button, our brains and body need a reset button too. We especially need to reset ourselves when rumination takes over and we start to obsess about repetitive negative thoughts, which interferes with our daily lives. Like our computers that sometimes freeze, rumination can keep us from moving where we need and want to go.
What is rumination? The American Psychological Association defines rumination as the “obsessional thinking involving excessive, repetitive thoughts or themes that interfere with other forms of mental activity.”
It is important to point out that ruminating thoughts, to a certain extent, are a natural human thing to do. For many people, temporary rumination when undergoing situational stressors can be helpful in figuring out what they want to do next. In those moments, people will typically ruminate to analyze and gain insight about the challenges they face to come up with solutions. This is called reflective rumination.
However, there is something called brooding rumination where individuals can ruminate about perceived mistakes or negative aspects of themselves. Let’s talk about how the brain works with rumination.
Research suggests that the default mode network (DMN) is involved in the process of rumination. The DMN is an interconnected series of brain regions that are active when we’re lost in thought, daydreaming, or reminiscing. The DMN is activated when our brain switches to “autopilot.”
This is when we tend to ruminate. When we actively pay attention to what we are doing, the DMN is less activated. There are certain signs to look for if you are in a brooding rumination experience:
1. Constantly feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, and tired
2. Muscle tension or pain
3. Increased heart rate
4. Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
6. Trembling or shaking
7. Digestive issues
We all need a break, and our mind needs a break from the hustle and bustle it goes through every moment of every day for our own mental health. There are many ways to get unstuck and reset our own mental reset button:
1. Distract yourself
2. Plan to take action
3. Take action
4. Question your thoughts
5. Readjust your life goals
6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem
7. Try meditation
8. Understand your triggers
9. Talk to a friend
10. Try therapy
For more information about rumination and getting unstuck, check out Episode 62 of the Act To Live Podcast title, Hitting the Reset Button.
Remember to be you. Take a moment to step away from your thoughts. Give yourself a must deserved hug. Be well. Be you.
With compassion, kindness, and hoping for a little flex in our minds,
Scott Palasik and Jaime Michise
Hosts of the Act To Live Podcast and Blog
- Cirino, E. (2019). 10 tips to help you stop ruminating. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-ruminating
- Rodriguez, G. S. (2020). Rumination: When your thoughts don’t have an off button. Psychology Group: Ft. Lauderdale. https://thepsychologygroup.com/ruminating-thoughts-and-anxiety/
- APA Dictionary (2022). https://dictionary.apa.org/rumination