How to Stop Ruminating Thoughts

This article will answer the questions- What are ruminating thoughts? Additionally, 10 tips will be outlined on how to stop ruminating thoughts.

title: how to stop ruminating thoughts

I recently stumbled upon a new song being played on the radio ALOT! The song was so good I had to download it. Once it was on my playlist, I hit the repeat button, playing it over and over and over… Playing the same song over and over drove my family crazy.🙃

What are ruminating thoughts?

Ruminating thoughts are very similar to the song I played on repeat. The OCD and Anxiety Center gives a great definition…

“Rumination is defined as engaging in a repetitive negative thought process that loops continuously in the mind without end or completion. The pattern can be distressing, difficult to stop, and usually involves repeating a negative thought or trying to solve any evasive problem.”

Anxiety, Depression and Ruminating Thoughts

Ruminating thoughts are often connected to anxiety and/or depression. For example, someone with an anxious heart might ruminate on the same thought in an effort to reduce feeling anxious. And, it might work in that moment, but won’t yield lasting results.

Ruminating thoughts for someone with depression might center on false core beliefs they have, such as, beliefs they are a failure or beliefs of worthlessness.

Either way, the ruminating thoughts tend to be negative in nature and get us stuck on dwelling on the problems or challenges that we face. As a result, you end up repeatedly thinking about events from the past or become preoccupied and cannot get it out of your mind.

Likely, all of us ruminate at times, but if there is a pattern of persistently ruminating it can negatively impact your well-being. Ruminating thoughts can prolong or worsen anxiety or depression. It can also block processing of emotions, affect your ability to think clearly and create patterns of negative thinking.

The longer we find ourselves stuck in a pattern of rumination the harder it is to get unstuck.

Let’s dive into 10 tips to help you stop ruminating thoughts.

How to Stop Ruminating Thoughts- 10 Tips!

1. Increase self awareness

It is helpful to increase self awareness. In other words, identify where your thoughts are starting and shift course as soon as possible. There is so much value in pausing to pay attention to the thoughts that we are thinking. The thoughts that we think can be so ingrained that we don’t pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves. Practice pausing so you can become increasingly aware of what you are thinking.

2. Name the triggers

When the ruminating thoughts start, make a note of what is going on. What happened that got you started on looping thoughts? It is helpful to know your triggers so you can be more prepared to change course or avoid those triggers when possible.

3. Problem-solving

Ruminating thoughts have a negative theme – it tends to focus on the problem, it’s causes and consequences rather than the solution. We have a choice. We can continue to focus on the problem or we can shift course to the solution. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make the situation better?“

4. Weigh the cost of rumination

Sometimes simply acknowledging that no good comes from looping on the same negative thoughts is enough to stop us in our tracks. It only drains you of time, focus and energy to do the things God has entrusted to you.

5. Thought stopping

Thought stopping is another great way to stop ruminating thoughts. We can only think one thing at a time. Choose your thoughts wisely.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

6. Take thoughts captive

Taking ruminating thoughts captive by challenging them. So often we simply continue looping on the same thoughts without even trying to battle the mind. Don’t buy into the lie that you can’t or it’s too hard. God equips and empowers us to do what he calls us to do… Including taking thoughts captive! Check out the full online course to take thoughts captive here.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

    7. Adjust expectations

    Often, ruminating thoughts come from a place of perfectionism or unrealistic goal setting. Adjust unrealistic goals and expectations. Perfection is not achievable this side of heaven (Romans 3:23).

    8. Acknowledge that thoughts are not necessarily facts

    We have a propensity to see our thoughts as facts – thoughts are not always facts. Challenge the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask a trusted friend or mentor to give you honest feedback on your ruminating thoughts.

    9. Meditate on truth

    When we are tempted to ruminate, choose to set your mind on things above. God‘s Word, His promises and His character are powerful ways to meditate on Truth.

    Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

    10. Seek wise counsel

    Wise counsel is always helpful when we need help navigating the deep waters of our heart. Consequently, we can’t always see our blind spots. An outsider can speak truth into our lives.

    The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 20:5

    Wrapping Up: How to Stop Ruminating Thoughts

    When you find yourself looping on negative thought patterns that focus on problems causes and consequences rather than solution it’s time to stop ruminating. Here is a quick summary of the 10 tips on how to stop ruminating thoughts…We can practice increased self-awareness, name the triggers and focus on problem-solving in an effort to stop ruminating thoughts. It is also helpful to weigh the cost of continuing in negative thought patterns. Other ways to practice moving away from negative thought patterns is through thought stopping, taking thoughts captive, adjusting expectations and acknowledging that our thoughts aren’t always facts. And finally we can meditate on truth and seek wise counsel to help us navigate the deep waters of our heart.


    1. La Renda Jones on May 3, 2022 at 11:51 am


      • Nanette Smith on May 3, 2022 at 12:16 pm

        Thank you!

    2. Kim Guzzardo on May 4, 2022 at 10:27 am

      You reminded me of something. When I want to fight a thought I use to say stop outloud and it would break it. I’m going to start doing that again

      • Sunshyne Gray on May 5, 2022 at 10:18 am

        Thank you for sharing, Kim! That is a great strategy:)

    3. Debbie Shollenberger on June 12, 2022 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you so much. I needed this so much❤️

    4. Lynn Hester on June 21, 2022 at 10:35 am

      Thank you. Shared this with my daughter and stepdaughter who both struggle with these thought patterns.

    5. Teresa on April 4, 2023 at 4:35 am

      It is nothing short of torment. For me the battles seem to be so intense on every side its really hard for me to know where to change my focus? I know God’s word… Will continue to memorize it. Right now that is the only replacement I have for all of this? Does that make sense? Maybe that is called depression. Thanks for the post.

    6. V on April 8, 2023 at 12:47 pm

      What bothers me even more is when people say “dont think negative thoughts or they will come true!” I start to think even more!!

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