Stop Ruminating: 5 Ways to Press Hold on Repetitive Thoughts

Once you get stuck in a pattern of ruminating thoughts, it is harder to get out of it. By not entering this way of thinking, you put a stop to them before they even start. Prevention is key, but it takes time to learn skills for how best to handle the triggers for rumination and then conquer those obsessive thoughts so they don’t run your mind. Learn five ways to handle these thoughts by hitting pause before they take over your mind and recovery.


The realization rumination has started is distracting. It may break the thought cycle but it is harder to do when it has already begun. When the thoughts are swirling, look for distractions. They can come from:

  • Calling a loved one
  • Watching movies
  • Drawing or writing
  • Reading a book
  • Exercising
  • Meditation or yoga

Take Action

Instead of repeating negative thoughts over and over, take the thought and make a plan to address it. Outline the steps needed to move forward and keep it on a piece of paper. Be specific, but realistic, when addressing what you need to take action. Being stuck can feel like you’re spinning your wheels but don’t spin out in your own mind over it. Disrupt the rumination and attack those negative thoughts with positive energy that comes from breaking inertia to take action.

Boost Self-Esteem

Many sources of self-esteem can help carry you away from a negative frame of mind to a new one. If you only have a few points of pride in your life, like a house or child, you may lose your self-esteem if you have to sell your house or if the children move away. The more sources of self-esteem you have, the smaller the risk you will fixate on perceived shortcomings.


Meditation can reduce rumination because it involves clearing the mind to arrive at an emotionally calm state of affairs. When you find yourself in a loop of thoughts, seek out quiet spaces. Sit down, breathe deeply, and focus on nothing else but your breath. Breath brings everything back into the body and centers you for what’s ahead.

Know the Triggers

Every time you find yourself ruminating, make a mental note. Track it in your phone, on paper, or tell someone for accountability. This includes tracking when, where, who, what, and how it all happened. Developing ways to avoid or manage triggers can help reduce rumination.

Knowing how you work best will determine which methods support your journey of recovery as it pertains to emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Finding help for ruminating thoughts is also a key point that can support long-term recovery. Speak with a treating physician or psychiatrist if you are struggling to keep centered in your mind, thoughts, or behaviors.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. We believe in the power of helping you cultivate a meaningful recovery with the right tools, resources, and application of those in your life. If you are struggling to control your thoughts or behaviors in recovery or need help with addiction, we are here to support you. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.