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Tips for Dealing with Ruminating Thoughts

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Hi All,

I know with benzo w/d our obsessive, intrusive thoughts are pretty much out of control, but this is something that I found helpful from my psychiatrist.


Working with Rumination


Step 1 – Mindfulness of rumination

The place to begin in working with rumination is gentle, non-judgmental awareness and acceptance. It does not

matter if it happens after 2 minutes or 2 days. At some point, notice you are ruminating and observe yourself in a kind

way. Appreciate that this is an automatic mental process and you cannot stop it. Sometimes, mindfulness (step 1) is



Step 2 – Gentle redirection


From awareness and acceptance, there are 10,000 things you can do. Rumination involves placing too much attention

on negative internal mental activity. Various strategies involve consciously and gently redirecting your attention

somewhere else. Here are some ideas about where to direct your attention. Think of this only as a guide, you

can come up with others. Using techniques as a desperate attempt to stop or escape your rumination won’t work,

however. The pressure will just increase agitation and suffering. Focus on the activity, not on demanding a certain

outcome. Your mind has an automatic and a manual transmission. In these techniques, you will use the manual



Change activities:

Ruminating is a way to spend time. Instead of ruminating, change activities. Go for a walk around the block. Exercise.

Take a bath. Watch TV or a movie. Call a friend. Make dinner. Do housework. Read a book or magazine. Listen to

music. (Avoid unhealthy activities like overeating or use of drugs or alcohol).


Focus on a different internal experience:

Belly breathe – pay attention to your belly slowly rising and falling as you breathe in and out. Redirect your attention to

your breath when you mind wanders away.

Think grateful thoughts or positive thoughts on purpose. Ask yourself “What is good about this moment?”


Recite a spiritual verse in your mind.

Repeat a mantra or calming phrase in your mind.

Practice a relaxation technique (e.g. meditation, autogenics, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation).

Shift attention to real here-and-now external things:

Grounding – carefully, consciously and slowly notice a few things you can see, then a few things you can hear, and

then a few things you can feel. Can you taste anything or smell anything? Consciously bring yourself out of your mind

and into the world.


Go for a walk and notice all the different shades of green you can see.

Go for a walk and notice things you have never noticed before – like the color of a neighbor’s door knob.


Practice mindfulness in daily activities – wash dishes and feel the warm water, slimy soap, weight of the dishes, etc.

Brush or floss your teeth slowly and notice all the sensations, tastes, smells, etc.


Express your emotions:

Rather than just thinking – write or talk. Keep a journal and write about emotions. Talk over your emotions with



Problem solve:

Write out or talk with someone about exactly what the problem is. Is there any constructive action you can take? If

there is, do it or plan to do it in the future. Write it down. If there is no action to take, use other techniques to redirect



Step 3 – Refocus back to what you are doing in a kind and patient way


Just because you take a bath, make dinner or go for a walk doesn’t mean your mind will stop ruminating. We have

all walked and ruminated simultaneously. Pull your attention gently back into what you are doing when your attention

wanders. If you are very upset, you may need to do this dozens of times in a few minutes. Keep gently coming back

to your task.

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This is a great post Zugora ... if I hadn't learned about being in the present moment and not believing my thoughts I could never have survived this journey.


I also found that when the really harsh brain waves would hit (usually in the middle of the night) I would lay flat out on the floor and focus hard on feeling the floor beneath me.  Then I would allow my awareness to expand to the feeling of the air on my skin or listen to the noises in and outside of the house ... one time even focusing on the refrigerator noise calmed me right down and brought me to a place a peace.  It sounds so silly but it works.


At times a few simple yoga poses helped too ... just to connect with my body.  I believe that this practice saved my life many, many times and I will continue it like my life depends on it.


Thanks again for the well laid out post.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you so very much Zugora, I needed to read that this morning. I couldn't stop my mind from going around and brought a bag of cookies to the computer before I read the part about food. I ate two chocolate mallows and then put them back in the cupboard before I did anymore damage.  :) I don't want to come out of this a blimp!


I feel so sorry for anybody that has this happening to them but it's nice that others post their experiences so we will know that we will come out of it.



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