How To Stop Ruminating Thoughts: 5 Tips To Stop Overthinking

Do you ever feel that your thoughts are taking over your life? Or that you overthink way too much? Ruminating thoughts may be something you are currently dealing with.

Woman worrying, overthinking, ruminating

As a self-proclaimed overthinker, I have recognized that ruminating thoughts have been ever so present with me for quite a while.

This overthinking typically happens when I wake in the morning, but can also hit in the middle of the night, which of course causes sleep deprivation and anxiety about sleeping.

I have therefore been working on some strategies to reduce my ruminating. This has helped me reduce the frequency of my overthinking, which has been a goal of mine.

So, I want to share with you the steps I have taken to reduce negative overthinking so you can join me on a path to happier, more balanced days 🙂

Related: How To Stop Thinking About The Past: 7 Strategies

What Exactly is Ruminating?

woman sitting on bed looking worried

Ruminating is the process of overthinking or repetitive thoughts about a negative situation. When ruminating, people analyze every single aspect of a situation over and over in their minds.

This means you may be replaying situations again and again that are extremely upsetting.

According to Psychology Today“People who ruminate are much more likely to develop problems with depression and anxiety, and those problems are hard to overcome for someone who fails to change ruminative thought patterns.”

You can, therefore, see why ruminating thoughts are not healthy, especially when ruminating about several situations in your mind.

What Causes Ruminating Thoughts?

Overthinking and rumination can happen for so many reasons depending on your situation.

Ruminating thoughts can also happen to anyone, however, it can be more intense for people struggling with depression and anxiety.

According to Medical News Today, some of the main causes of ruminating thoughts are caused by:

  • A specific stressor, such as a failed relationship
  • A recent traumatic event
  • Perfectionism
  • Low self-esteem
  • An upcoming stressful event, such as final exams or a major performance
  • Facing a fear or phobia, such as a person with a fear of needles having a blood test
  • Awaiting information about a potentially life-changing event, such as medical test results or a loan approval

How To Stop Ruminating Thoughts

person with head in hands

As mentioned above, I have personally struggled with ruminating thoughts for quite some time. It can really impact my happiness throughout the day, so I have therefore been trying new ways to stop overthinking and repetitive thoughts.

Although I am not a medical professional I have sought advice on tips to reduce rumination directly from some social workers and psychiatrists.

The following strategies are based on my own experiences and advice from professionals.

Have you experienced ruminating thoughts or negative overthinking? Here are 5 tips so you can finally try to stop your ruminating thoughts... #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters Click To Tweet

5 Ways To Stop Ruminating Thoughts:

How to stop ruminating thoughts - 5 tips to get rid of negative overthinking

1. Acknowledge Your Ruminating Thoughts and Move On

This may sound difficult to do, but hear me out.

Simply acknowledging that you are thinking about something too much means you may need to just look at that thought for what it is.

There are a few ways you can acknowledge the thought, but my favourite tip is to write it down.

  • Grab a notebook or journal and write down what’s on your mind, what’s worrying you. Be as detailed as possible.
  • You can also download this free mood tracker to help you keep track of how ruminating impacts your day

Seeing your thoughts on paper can sometimes help you reflect on the situation in a different light. The situation/task may even look smaller than you think it is when you see it in black and white.

Move On:

The best way to move on from a ruminating thought is to distract yourself.

This may not solve the problem long-term, but it will immediately remove yourself from further overthinking.

Some great ways to distract yourself.

  • Do some chores
  • Call someone and ask how they are
  • Listen to music
  • Work on a project
  • Go for a walk and listen to a podcast

In fact, there are SO many ways you can distract yourself. Here are some ideas you can check out in this self care blog post.

Related: 5 Types of Journaling for Mental Health

2. Take Action By Dealing With Your Ruminating Thoughts

Dealing with the situation or problem might seem stressful, however, it’s even more stressful to put it off.

This is where anxiety can creep in and make the situation or task seem way worse than it actually is. Putting something off can be a trigger for even more rumination.

The best way to reduce ruminating thoughts is to take action (where possible).

  • If it’s a stressful situation you need to deal with, figure out a way you can take small steps to solve it.
  • If it’s a big item on your to-do list that you’ve been putting off, commit to yourself that you will complete the task. Again, baby steps are fine.
  • If you are worried about an upcoming event, brainstorm some ways you can prepare yourself so you feel more comfortable.
Find out how to take action by dealing with your ruminating thoughts.#mentalhealthmatters Click To Tweet

3. Identify Your Triggers: When/Where You Ruminate

writing in notebook

For 1 week, take note of when and where you ruminate. Specifically, track:

  • The exact time
  • What you are doing
  • Where you are – make sure to be specific

See if you can change your habits at this time/location so you can create a backup plan to reduce the frequency and length of time you are ruminating.

This is where distracting yourself can sometimes help.

4. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

If you notice you are beginning to excessively overthink a great practice to try is mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced in many ways. It helps to focus on simple tasks like taking note of sight, sound, smell and touch.

This is something you can try when your thoughts are taking over. It sounds simple but it can be a great tool for many people.

5. Consider CBT Therapy

CBT stands for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy‘ and is directly focused on the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It helps you learn new skills and develop new habits for thinking and behaving.

CBT therapy is available with a therapist one-on-one and also in group therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is great for individuals struggling with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse, and more

If you are interested in learning more about how CBT can help you, speak with your family doctor about resources in your area.

If you live somewhere with public healthcare like Canada, UK and Australia, some types of CBT services are typically covered (usually group therapy). You can also check out BetterHelp online – details below…

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How To Stop Ruminating Thoughts: Conclusion

young woman looking worried

When you are experiencing reoccurring negative thoughts on a frequent basis it can seem very hard to get out from under those heavy feelings.

I, therefore, hope you will find some of these solutions helpful.

If ruminating thoughts are making it hard for you to live a happy day-to-day life, I strongly encourage you to speak to your family doctor.

Taking care of your mental health is more important than you might think and there is no shame in getting professional help.

Here’s to kicking ruminating in the backside and creating more happy days for yourself!



Do you ever suffer from Ruminating Thoughts? Or do you have your own strategies to get rid of rumination?

Leave a note in the comments below and share your experience…

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    1. Thanks so much Michelle! I agree. I still struggle with overthinking so being mindful that I am doing it is the first step to stop ruminating in its tracks!

  1. I overthink or ruminate way too much! I find your tip about grabbing a notebook or journal really helpful. I will often blog about them but not often write them down at the time. I find it hard sometimes to move on from them but I am really going to try.

    1. Hi Kadie! Writing your thoughts down in a personal journal can e really helpful. You can get everything out there on paper without a filter and it feels so good to release it. Let’s try and work on this together as I too am the master of overthinking! xo

  2. Thank you for these tips! I totally ruminate all the time and it really can have negative effects. I have to try and get back into mindful meditation. I think it really can help.

    1. Hey Nicole 🙂 You’re welcome! It sure can. Being mindful can be so helpful to kick the negative thought to the curb. I really want to try meditation which I think can be a helpful tool – I just need more practice at it.

  3. This was a really good read. As a perfectionist, I know that I am guilty of ruminating and overthinking far, far too often. it’s something that I have been trying to work on, and you have some great tips here to help with that. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey Britt! Thanks so much 🙂 Ruminating can get completely out of control at times (especially these days), but I find that just being aware of ruminating can even help! Once you know you’re overthinking, it becomes easier to reduce these thoughts. Take care! xo

  4. Wow thank you so much for this! I have been struggling so long with overthinking. When I find myself going into an overthinking spiral, I sort of have to give myself a mini pep talk to snap out of it and get myself back on track.

    1. Hi Mallory – I completely understand. Our thoughts can really impact our feelings and behaviours. I like that your mini pep talk helps you out 🙂

  5. These are great tips that I wish I had found last night. Spent a great deal ruminating about upcoming events. Thanks for sharing and love your blog!

    1. Hi Dewanna – Thanks so much for sharing. Ruminating can be so difficult at times that’s why I try my best to focus on the present each day. It can be hard at times, but can help overall. Take care 🙂

  6. I recently learned that emotions are only meant to last 45-90 seconds. It’s our ruminating on the emotions that lengthen the duration and cause problems. Oh, and I’m a big fan of Cognitive Therapy!

    1. Hi Carri! Wow – that’s so interesting. Oh yes! CBT has SO many helpful tools and I’ve been geeking out over them lol!
      Take care 🙂

  7. One of my college teachers once said that people who worry are great meditators. They just meditate on the wrong things. We have to ask the Lord for help in thinking about things that are good and true! I love podcasts and uplifting music to help in this area.

    1. Hi Kristin – Thanks for the inspiration. I have wanted to get serious about meditation and hearing this from you is definitely motivating me. Thanks so much 🙂 And yes – music and podcasts are such a great way to feel good!

  8. Thank you for this. I used to ruminate on a situation with a family member and it took me a really long time to stop overthinking it. Especially because potentially seeing them was a trigger.

    1. Hey Ayanna – I definitely understand this. It’s hard when we feel we can’t control these thoughts. I’m glad to hear that you aren’t ruminating over it anymore xo

  9. These are great tips! I struggle with this and have recently started CBT. I also am trying to go to yoga more regularly, but I will have to start tracking it like you suggested. Thank you for sharing!

    1. CBT strategies are so good for this. In my CBT therapy I’ve found the mood tracking to be really helpful when it comes to ruminating as well – so definitely give it a try 🙂 Take care!

    1. Hey Connor! I couldn’t agree more. So happy to hear that identifying your triggers has helped you so much. This is something I’ve been working on too. Awareness is such a big help. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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