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Stopping rumination


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Author Thread
Roger Elliott
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 04 Sep 2003
Posts: 2694
Location: Oban, Scotland

Post Wed Sep 10, 2003 2:22 pm

Stopping rumination    Reply with quote  

Hi folks

I'm currently working with someone who has long-term OCD, plus some other problems.

One major goal for us is to cut down the amount of rumination she is doing, which we have achieved to an extent by increasing her activities, and rehearsing other ways of thinking.

I'd like to get your ideas on how you help people stop ruminating (introspecting in an emotionally-arousing way)

All the best

Roger
  
kfedouloff
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 2521

Post Wed Sep 10, 2003 4:06 pm

   Reply with quote  

Increasing activities is good, and some activities are more effective than others.

I encourage clients to engage with learning a new skill - going to classes and participating in a new group of people gives you plenty to think about. Restarting an earlier interest can also be good - we often let favourite activities just melt out of our lives and it can be good to resurrect them.

Joining in some kind of activist group (defending local amenities, or such like, for instance) can also help, because there is then a real identifiable "difficulty" out there on which one can spend one's creative energies and develop problem solving as well as making new friends and enjoying the feeling of solidarity that comes from having a shared goal.

I might also enlist the assistance of a family member or friend to regularly phone up and ask what nice things have been happening today, accepting even the smallest thing, and encouraging lots of detail in the reporting. Miserable ruminators find it quite hard to think of anything to say at first, but practice makes perfect!

Similarly, I have encouraged clients to keep a "log" of three nice things a day (however trivial), and to regularly read their log. Sounds trite, but works!

Another approach I use is to work on the hypothesis that thoughts are like guests at a big party where you also are a guest - you did not invite them, and you certainly don't have to spend your time talking to them, and if one of them gets you in a corner and starts boring on about something you don't want to hear about, you can excuse yourself with a sudden urgent need to go to the bathroom and then come back and find a more pleasant "guest" to talk to!

If rumination has become a problem, it may be necessary to limit the amount of time spent on one's own until the tendency is brought under control, although I hesitate to recommend that one should always avoid being on one's own. I have quite a few clients the root of whose difficulty is precisely that they don't know how to be comfortable in their own company!
Roger Elliott
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 04 Sep 2003
Posts: 2694
Location: Oban, Scotland

Post Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:04 am

Stopping rumination    Reply with quote  

Thanks Kathleen, there are some great ideas in there.

I am thinking as well that I might go for some 'symptom prescription' and ask her to set aside a time of day to ruminate. She has been trrying to stop ruminating for about 10 years, so it may be time to try something different (!)

Something I have noticed if I am having problems getting to sleep because I can't stop thinking is that if I make an effort to think about all the things my brain is automatically going over, I go to sleep!

(Now if that's not a hypnotic sentence, I don't know what is Wink )

Roger
Louise McDermott
Uncommon Knowledge Staff


Joined: 04 Sep 2003
Posts: 35
Location: Brighton, UK

Post Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:03 am

Thanks for the metaphor!    Reply with quote  

Kathleen,

I love the 'guests at a party' metaphor! Something I'm sure most people can relate to as well - being stuck talking to someone when they're really not enjoying it.

Great stuff, thanks!

Louise
kfedouloff
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 2521

Post Thu Sep 11, 2003 3:56 pm

Symptom prescription    Reply with quote  

I'm using the "symptom prescription" with a client at the moment. I have suggested that she have a ten minute slot, a particular place, and a pen and paper handy. Rumination must only be done in that spot and at that time. She must write down the thoughts she is having (never mind if she had the same thoughts yesterday!). I hope she'll soon get bored with it and start missing!

The rest of the time she must focus on something else, telling herself that she has done her ruminating for the day. As she is not very well physically at the moment, I have suggested that she gets some crayons or paints, and plays with them. Like many people she has not picked up a crayon since primary school - it's such fun!

I shall track what happens.

Kathleen
Roger Elliott
Site Admin
Site Admin


Joined: 04 Sep 2003
Posts: 2694
Location: Oban, Scotland

Post Thu Sep 11, 2003 5:03 pm

   Reply with quote  

Great stuff Kathleen, I'd love to hear about how it goes.

Roger
Rex
MVP
MVP


Joined: 27 Dec 2003
Posts: 28
Location: UK

Post Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:19 pm

Stopping Ruminating    Reply with quote  

I am not a therapist but I hope you dont mind if I share some of my thoughts on this discussion.

It is only four days that I came across 'the Learning Path" and - taking advantage of the holiday season - I have been spending almost all of that time studying it. Many of its concepts I am finding extremely helpful. For example, I have now realised that rumination is my major problem. As has been mentioned, an easy way to stop rumination is to make contact with people ...look for distractions...go for a walk etc.. but isnt that avoiding the problem...avoiding the issue on why rumination is happening in the first place...just treating the symptoms...similar to taking antidepressent drugs? If I undertand you correctly I think this is more or less what you are saying.

I like your ideas about having a specific time for ruminating - eventually the need for rumination will go away - hopefully. I haven't been out of the house for the past four days and I have done a lot of ruminating ....also, thanks to the 'Learning Path', I have become more conscious of my dreaming and being conscious of why I am waking up so tiered. With all that ruminating, by yesterday I felt quite down and had a tremendous headache. Over these past days I have also been following my moods, watching how they fluctuate on a daily basis. I have been waking in the morning feeling terribly tiered....with a headache..feeling hopless and what's the point ..etc .and I slip into more rumination...by the afternoon, feeling a little more positive, I have found the energy to study the next bit of the 'learning path' and look through some of the posts on the 'uncommon forum' and make some notes of things I need to do to break the cycle.

I am am thinking that it is best to stay in the environment where you ruminate and find a way to stop it - rather than distract yourself to stop the rumination.

I am thinking that the best way to stop the rumination is to sit down and write about the things I have been ruminating on - as clearly and precisely as I can and then ...refering to the 'Learning Path' section on thinking styles I shall go though each of the issues and see how I can reframe them ...look at the alternative options...enabling me to become more aware of my 'black and white' thinking style and what alternative there are with the 'shades of grey' thinking style. I hope to begin this soon.

I notice that I have even began to runimate on the above (i.e. finding solutions and alternative possibilities)..so I think that that must be progress and this morning I woke up with only a slightly heavy head but feeling more energy than I had for the past few days . Tomorrow I will be back at work so it will be a welcome forced break from all this self-obsession!!!

I would welcome any comments!



Oh...I think I had read somewhere in this forum that Roger - acknowledging positive feedback about the Leaning Path - was asking why people find it useful. Here are some of my thoughts.

The Learning Path ...is very well written, to the point. The most important aspect to me is that it is positive and provides solutions that the reader can try to implement themsleves. So much 'depression stuff' on the web talks about the reasons for depression without providing easy to handle solutions. I like the fact that you are not promoting drug use and that you say that depression can be cured ...the more I think about your approach - the more it seems so very logical. A friend of mine (a social worker with some training in psychology) told me that I should accept that depression is how I am and that I should find ways of living with it. That just made me even more depressed. It is a relief to find alternative ideas.

The final excellent thing, and maybe the most important aspect of the 'Learning Path' is the 'Uncommon Forum' website that goes with it. This is almost like a coach to help and provide support along the way. Could I suggest that you set up a specific sub-forum for people to discuss their experiences with the 'Learning Path' a kind of support group. I know that you guys need to have a form of income so I think it would be in order to charge a small 'registration fee'.

I seem to have gone-on quite a bit - sorry!

You are all doing a fantastic job - keep up the good work and thanks for being there!
mazcon
Junior Member


Joined: 18 Nov 2003
Posts: 41

Post Tue Dec 30, 2003 11:56 am

   Reply with quote  

Hi Rex
It sounds like you are really working hard at helping yourself. Isn't it great when you begin to notice positive changes as a result of your efforts? Smile
Like you, I used the Learning Path and found it to be very helpful. It really opened my eyes to how some of my thought processes contributed to the bad feelings I had. And that's the problem, isn't it? Feeling bad/depressed - and it's the ruminating that's causing it. After all, if you were ruminating and feeling great, it wouldn't be a problem would it?

Not all rumination is bad though. If you have a problem it's good to chew things over in order to find a solution. The trick, or skill..... is in evaluating the thoughts to assess whether you can actually do something about it, or .... to be honest with yourself about when you are just uselessly obsessing about some past or unchangeable event. If you can't change it, why bother to mull it over? It's only going to make you feel bad. I found that it doesn't really matter why you are ruminating - if it's fruitless and harmful, why do it?.
I don't know about you but I found I had to work at breaking the habit - almost as though when you are stuck in depression, somehow even a negative arousal is a little seductive!

The fact that you are on the forum and the Learning Path shows that it's time for things to change. It's time to break the cycle by broadening the focus of your attention away from the useless thoughts (either thinking or writing them).. and that's where the distractions are great! Not only does it provide you with a wonderful opportunity to think outside of yourself but it also addresses your basic needs and improves the quality of your life - ok, it takes a little effort.... but it's worth it!

Best of luck Rex, I hope the coming year brings good things for you Smile
Mary
Rex
MVP
MVP


Joined: 27 Dec 2003
Posts: 28
Location: UK

Post Sat Jan 10, 2004 9:08 pm

   Reply with quote  

Thanks for you comments and kind encouragement!

Sounds like you may have solved this problem of rumination. Is that true? We never really hear about people's journey with fighting depression - we seem to hear more about the struggles and the difficulties - but are there really people who succeed? Maybe once they succeed they dont want to deal with depressed peole any more so they 'disappear' into the world of 'normal people'.

I agree with you about the distractions to stop ruminating - but sometimes the disraction maybe just avoiding the problem (of rumination)- at least in the first stages of tackling depression. Right now I feel I am still at the point that I need to think though how the thinking styles are affecting my life and how I can develop alternative thinking styles and - like you say - develop habits of recognizing when the rumination is starting and habits of deciding on a solution - if one is available - or just realizing that it is fruitless. Then when the better habits and skills are developed or well on the way to being developed - then move on to making life more complete. I am very lucky that I have a job which right now I am really enjoying - and provides me a much needed distraction - so its not like I am sitting at home ruminating all the time. I guess its a case of striking a balance of not getting so much into socializing that you dont find the time to 'solve the problem of depression' and not spending too much time alone so that you continuously ruminate. What you mentioned about - it not the rumination thats necessarily the problem but whether the rumination lead to a solution is also a very important point.

So although I maybe doing a lot of thinking right now - I am trying to find solutions.

Thanks for your help - I appreciate it.

Rex
Rex
MVP
MVP


Joined: 27 Dec 2003
Posts: 28
Location: UK

Post Sat Jan 10, 2004 9:10 pm

   Reply with quote  

Thanks for you comments and kind encouragement!

Sounds like you may have solved this problem of rumination. Is that true? We never really hear about people's journey with fighting depression - we seem to hear more about the struggles and the difficulties - but are there really people who succeed? Maybe once they succeed they dont want to deal with depressed peole any more so they 'disappear' into the world of 'normal people'.

I agree with you about the distractions to stop ruminating - but sometimes the disraction maybe just avoiding the problem (of rumination)- at least in the first stages of tackling depression. Right now I feel I am still at the point that I need to think though how the thinking styles are affecting my life and how I can develop alternative thinking styles and - like you say - develop habits of recognizing when the rumination is starting and habits of deciding on a solution - if one is available - or just realizing that it is fruitless. Then when the better habits and skills are developed or well on the way to being developed - then move on to making life more complete. I am very lucky that I have a job which right now I am really enjoying - and provides me a much needed distraction - so its not like I am sitting at home ruminating all the time. I guess its a case of striking a balance of not getting so much into socializing that you dont find the time to 'solve the problem of depression' and not spending too much time alone so that you continuously ruminate. What you mentioned about - it not the rumination thats necessarily the problem but whether the rumination lead to a solution is also a very important point.

So although I maybe doing a lot of thinking right now - I am trying to find solutions.

Thanks for your help - I appreciate it.

Rex
  

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