While some free time can be useful to recharge our batteries, all too often we spend more time thinking about all the things that can go wrong instead of staying positive. Spending excessive time thinking about what’s already wrong and how things could get worse is a process called rumination. Here are some tips from the counselors at the Office for Student Inclusion to prevent rumination while at home:
- Do Something! We often get caught in rumination when our brains aren’t otherwise engaged, so do something that will occupy your thoughts. Perhaps you can play with the family pet, engage in a hobby you haven’t pursued due to the demands of school or work, find some brain teasers online, etc. Just find something that will grab your attention.
- Notice. We likely all have started thinking about a negative bit of news and found ourselves beginning to worry about something that might never happen! We can work to prevent this by noticing when we are beginning the rumination cycle and making an intentional effort to substitute the thoughts with thoughts of gratitude. When you are focusing on what you are thankful for your brain isn’t able to continue down the path of negative thoughts.
- Practice gratitude. Getting in the habit of focusing on what is good in your life can help you to challenge negative thoughts in the moment. Take a few minutes three times a day to list some of the things that you are thankful for. Just as with rumination, we can enter into a negative thought spiral that increases worry — try to do the opposite. Climb out of the hole by thinking of a positive event that happened in your past and think through the positive impacts it has had up through the present.