This is our fifth post in the anxiety series by Mark de Teliga – one of L&L’s coaches and a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist.
In this series, Mark will provide you with direction, tips and tools to help get you through the silly season and even help your productivity at work too. Today we ask you to consider what you think about.
Today’s tip is about rumination.
Rumination is a type of overthinking that is common among people with anxiety. When people ruminate in response to anxiety, that anxiety can turn into depression, particularly if people are prone to avoidance coping when they ruminate.
Ruminators tend to believe that overthinking will help them have a lightbulb moment. Spoiler alert: it won’t. Overthinking while in a depressed mood makes you less likely to have useful insights about your problems and prolongs the depression.
Your challenge for today is to try to identify a topic you think about a lot, where you have an underlying belief that eventually, if you think enough, you’ll find a solution to the problem.
– you overthink about why you can’t stick to a diet
– you overthink about what direction you should take in your career
– you overthink about whether you’ll ever find a good partner
– you overthink about why you procrastinate
Your only goal for today is to start to develop mindful awareness about your rumination. When you notice yourself starting to overthink about a topic you’ve identified as one of your rumination topics, remind yourself that overthinking is unlikely to lead to useful problem solving insights, and is likely to cause avoidance coping. Instead, try doing an enjoyable, distracting activity, or do a few minutes of the mindfulness of sounds exercise we covered on Day 1. You can even just focus your attention on the sensations of whatever you’re doing e.g., if you’re taking a shower, focus on the sensations of showering. Whenever your thoughts drift back into rumination, gently and with self-kindness rather than self-criticism, bring your thoughts back to what it feels like, looks like, sounds like, and smells like, to be doing what you’re doing right now.
Mark de Teliga is a practicing Psychologist & Psychotherapist as well as a mentor for Legends & Leaders in the Agency/Account Management module. Introduction by Adrianne Nixon, Founder of Legends & Leaders.