Obsessive Ruminating: 5 Things to Know about Rumination

Obsessive ruminating

So, have you ever thought about something over and over? Something didn’t go the way you wanted and you’re thinking about all the things that went wrong. You think about various scenarios and different factors for an extensive period, but you don’t come up with any solutions. 

If you said yes to any of these questions, then you are dealing with obsessive ruminating thoughts.  You are not alone I have dealt with this numerous times in my life as many others have.

You may feel very stressed out and exhausted at this point. I’ll tell you now that I have done this numerous times myself. I guarantee you that pretty much every person out there has done this at some point in their lives, so you are not alone in this.

What is Obsessive Ruminating

Never ending thoughts

Obsessive ruminating refers to engaging in repetitive thoughts or constantly replicating certain events, ideas, or memories in one’s mind. This psychiatric condition is characterized by persistent and intrusive thought patterns that can be difficult to control or stop. Individuals with obsessive ruminating may find themselves stuck in a cycle of overthinking, where they continuously dwell on a particular theme or worry.

These thoughts often manifest as irrational and exaggerated, causing distress and interfering with daily life. The process of obsessive ruminating can be time-consuming and mentally exhausting, as individuals may find it challenging to break free from repetitive patterns and intrusive thoughts. This rumination often leads to heightened anxiety and stress levels, interfering with decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

It is important for individuals struggling with obsessive ruminating to seek professional help and learn coping mechanisms to manage their thought processes effectively. 

Reasons You Need to Know How Obsessive Ruminating Can Take a Toll on You

Obsessive ruminating can take a toll on you in various ways. When we engage in this type of thinking, our thoughts tend to fixate on one particular issue or problem. These worrisome thoughts consume our mental energy and can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

The more we ruminate, the more we get stuck in a negative cycle of obsessive thinking. This constant preoccupation with our thoughts prevents us from fully engaging in the present moment and enjoying life’s experiences. We may find ourselves feeling emotionally exhausted and unable to concentrate on other tasks.

Overall, the toll of obsessive ruminating is a heavy burden to bear, affecting our mental well-being and overall quality of life. It is important to seek help and develop strategies to break free from this pattern of thinking to regain control and find peace of mind. 

How Obsessive Ruminating Can Affect Your Overall Well-being

Obsessive ruminating can take a toll on our mental and emotional health and our physical health. Our stress levels get thrown out of whack. We end up being less proactive in our daily lives.

Obsessive thoughts can also disrupt our sleep patterns, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. People can sabotage their self-worth. Hypertension is something else that can happen to our physical health.

Now let’s look into these things in more detail: 

Stress Levels Get Thrown Off


Our stress levels can get thrown out of whack from obsessive ruminating. Our cortisol levels go up which then results in our anxiety going up which can lead to muscle weakness, possible weight gain, possible skin changes like bruises, increased thirst, frequent urination, osteoporosis, a flushed look on your face, and mood swings. The Society of Endocrinology (2019) states that “Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of vital processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress” (para, 1).

Less Proactive

Less proactive

We start to be less proactive in our daily lives. We start to put off things till the next day and before we know it, we have put those things off for 4 days. It can reach the point where we are not eating or getting enough sleep. 

Being less proactive can often lead to one’s thoughts constantly revolving around unproductive concerns or worries. It is important to take action rather than getting caught up in endless contemplation, as this can hinder progress and prevent the achievement of goals. 

Sleep Patterns Getting Disrupted

No sleep

Sleep patterns refer to the specific routines and habits individuals have when it comes to their sleep. However, for some individuals, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern can be challenging. One common issue that disrupts sleep patterns is obsessive ruminating.

When individuals engage in this activity, they repetitively think about negative thoughts, which can prevent them from falling asleep or even waking up in the middle of the night. This continuous cycle of negative thoughts not only disturbs the quantity but also the quality of sleep. Developing effective strategies to stop thinking and regain control of the mind before going to bed is crucial.

This can include practices such as meditation, journaling, or engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises. By implementing these techniques, individuals can break free from the cycle of rumination, allowing them to establish healthier sleep patterns and wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. 



A fourth thing that can happen is self-sabotage. Obsessive ruminating can lead to developing negative coping behaviors like stress eating. This can lead to more unwanted stress and a downward spiral of negativity. 

Self-sabotage is the destructive pattern of behavior where one continuously undermines their success or happiness. Negative thoughts and doubts consume one’s mind, causing them to believe they are unworthy of success or happiness. This self-perpetuating cycle of sabotaging actions further erodes their self-worth and keeps them trapped in a cycle of self-sabotage. 



A fifth thing that can occur from obsessive ruminating is hypertension or high blood pressure. Elizabeth Scott (2019) mentions that “Rumination may prolong the stress response, which increases the negative impact of stress on the heart” (para, 17). You can feel yourself getting worked up when you have the same constant thoughts run through your mind over and over and you not getting any solutions or the solutions you think you should get.

Hypertension can also be caused by unwanted stress, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Individuals with hypertension often experience symptoms such as difficulties in breathing, highlighting the need for proper management and lifestyle changes to prevent further health complications. 

Key Considerations for Successfully Eliminating Obsessive Ruminating


One way to stop obsessive ruminating is to distract yourself by doing something you enjoy or examining an object like how that lamp in your living room was built or how they designed that colorful pattern on your shirt. Anything to take your attention away from your thoughts. You can practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, listening to music, yoga, and meditation for example.

Socializing with people helps you to get out of your head. Talking to people will make you listen and pay attention to them and get you out of your head. Ask them questions and talk about things you enjoy, that they enjoy, and what you both enjoy.

Identify what thoughts and or fears cause you to ruminate. Is it a person, word, phrase, behavior, place, or something that happened in your past, worried about something happening in the future? Whatever it is, identifying these things can help you to avoid ruminating about them.

In time and with practice, you can develop a better handle on controlling your thoughts so that you don’t obsessively ruminate about them.

Ask yourself ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ Knowing what you are capable of handling can help you to stop obsessively ruminating. Should the worst-case scenario happen, you know whether or not you can handle it and most of the time it’s not life or death or the end of the world.

View those mistakes you made as learning experiences.  As I mentioned in a previous post about mistakes, you can learn what went wrong so that in the future you don’t repeat them. ‘What’s done is done’ and ‘What’s gone is gone’ are phrases you may have heard at some point in your life.

Exercising is a great way to focus on your workout and get your mind off your thoughts. A light workout, a big workout, or even a brisk walk will help you clear your mind.  A nature hike helps stop obsessive ruminating.

Get more in touch with your five senses. What are you hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, or tasting (if you have food in your mouth or are drinking something)? Putting more focus and attention toward your five senses can get you out of your mind and focus more on the present instead of the past and future.

Seeking therapy is another way to help you stop ruminating if you are struggling to do it on your own. There is no shame in seeking professional help. 

Taking it to the Next Level: How to Gain a Calm Mind

Calm mind

Gaining a calm mind can be challenging, especially in today’s fast-paced world. One common barrier is obsessive ruminating, which involves getting stuck in repetitive and negative thoughts. To overcome this, it is crucial to practice mindfulness.

This means being fully present and aware of the current moment without judgment. By staying grounded in the present, you can detach from the constant stream of thoughts and worries that fuel anxiety. Another effective technique is to engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress.

This may include deep breathing exercises, taking walks in nature, practicing yoga or meditation, or even journaling. These activities help shift the focus from the chaotic mind to the body and its senses, ultimately leading to a sense of calm. Additionally, setting boundaries with technology and creating a supportive routine can significantly improve mental well-being.

By taking breaks from screens, practicing self-care, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule, you can create a foundation for a calm and peaceful mind. Remember, gaining a calm mind is a journey that requires patience and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. 

Alternatives to Relaxing Your Thoughts

Many individuals find it challenging to relax their thoughts and let go of their constant worries and stresses. However, there are several alternatives to help break the cycle of obsessive ruminating and achieve a calmer state of mind. Practicing mindfulness meditation can teach you to acknowledge your thoughts without judgment, enabling you to let them pass rather than become consumed by them.

Implementing a structured routine with activities you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, painting, or listening to music, can help distract your mind from incessant worrying. Seeking support from trusted friends and family members can provide a safe space to discuss your concerns and receive guidance on managing obsessive thoughts. Exploring these alternatives to relaxation can ultimately foster a healthier mindset and contribute to a more balanced and tranquil life. 

Wrap Up

Though ruminating is associated with depression and is not good, under the right conditions, it can be helpful. In this case, you can call it critical or deep thinking.  You’re able to think and talk about your feelings and emotions in more depth which gets them off your chest and they’re no longer bottled up. Now keep in mind this doesn’t work for everyone.

Whatever your thinking style is, it’s up to you to figure out. Once you know that, you can get better at not ruminating on your thoughts and or fears. If you can think deeply and come up with solutions to things and not ruminate, that’s good.

If thinking deeply is causing you to stress, get worked up, or drain your energy where you feel tired, you’re probably ruminating. Now you can go back and think of fond and happy memories but keep moving forward. Try not to look back on the bad ones.

This is where obsessive ruminating can take place and become unhealthy especially if you’re spending a lot of time thinking back on those negative things. I’ll leave you with this quote. Take care, stay safe, and remember you are not alone and have worth in this world.

Care and respect


Scott, E. (2019). “Rumination: Why Do People Obsess Over Things?”. Retrieved from                     https://www.verywellmind.com/rumination-why-do-people-obsess-over-things-                   3144571

The Society of Endocrinology. (2019). “You and Your Hormones”. Retrieved from                           https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/cortisol/

Wehrenberg, M. (2016). “Rumination: A Problem in Anxiety and Depression Springboard           out of negative networks into new solutions”. Retrieved from                                                     https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-                                       techniques/201604/rumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression

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