We have all experienced an unwelcome, negative thought that plays itself over and over in our minds. It could be a memory of something stressful that happened during the day or an imaginary scenario we fear will occur. In psychology, this mental pattern of habitually focusing on distressing thoughts is referred to as rumination.
We all ruminate at some point. It is a pattern that often helps us process a difficult event or gives us the chance to examine a problem and find a solution. However, it can also become a damaging habit if it occurs on a daily basis over small matters as opposed to significant issues.
Constant rumination is strongly associated with clinical depression. It may be a precursor to depression, or it could indicate a person already suffers from it. Habitual rumination often results in a permanent negative mindset, where all thoughts focus on what is lacking or hurtful in one’s life. It can also lead to perceiving negativity where it does not exist.
Aside from depression, rumination is also linked to other disorders, such as anxiety, alcoholism and weight issues (including eating disorders and obesity). When one ruminates too much, they often will do something to try to get their minds off their worries. Unfortunately, the easiest way to distract the mind is with food or drink, including junk food or alcohol. A more healthy way to engage in distraction is reading.
The great thing about reading is you have complete control over it. You can select the type of story or subject, and you can choose where to enjoy your book. The other great thing about reading is you can do it for free. You don’t have to purchase books; you can just check them out at your local library. Burbank has three locations: the Northwest Branch by Ralph Foy Park, the Central Library near the Media Center, and the Buena Vista Branch at Lincoln Park. You can also take advantage of the nearby parks to relax in the fresh air, which also improves mood and eases tension.
Just be sure to select a book that will not encourage rumination. For example, if someone is fixating on relationship problems, a heart-breaking love story would be the worst choice. Genres such as fantasy, science fiction and even children’s books can take your mind out of the ordinary world for some healthy escapism. If you prefer to read something more productive, non-fiction books on interesting hobbies or fascinating historical events can be just as effective.