Studies have shown that ruminating is connected with the default mode network (DMN) of the brain. The default mode network is a system of interconnected parts of the brain that become active when we are not focused on the outside world. We are "in our heads"--mulling, overthinking, or possibly replaying past events/conversations to our detriment. We may be completely immersed in "deep thought" and relatively unaware of what is going on around us. It may be an argument with your spouse, an embarrassing moment at work, or anticipating a negative outcome to an upcoming event. Whatever the ruminating thought is, it can evoke a feelings of anxiety, worry, angry, depression, or fear.
So, what is the remedy for ruminating? Our answer (remedy) is found in the word of God. For every challenge we may face in life, the word of God offers a viable solution. God is The Creator. As The Creator of humanity--mind, body, and spirit--we look to him for answers to the questions that we have about ourselves. What is challenging us? What is bringing distress to our souls? What is keeping us up at night? What is the thing that we cannot stop thinking about? God answers these questions and gives us solutions that empower, motivate, inspire, and encourage us in a kind, loving, and compassionate way. He tells us how to stop ruminating. Consider Philippians 4:8; God gives us an insight into our thought life and provides a key to shift from the negative to the positive by outlining what is a more productive way of thinking. He encourages us to think on THESE things.
How do we carry out Philippians 4:8 as it applies to ruminating? Consider these suggestions:
1. Recognize when we are ruminating and stop. It typically happens when our minds are on "autopilot" and we are not focused on a specific task or engaging with the outside world.
2. Practice mindfulness. Be fully present with the world around you and engage all of your senses.
3. Meditate on the word of God. Read, contemplate, and consider a scripture. If you do not immediately have a scripture, consider meditating on Psalm 23. King David, the writer of most of the Psalms, experienced great challenges and difficulties in life. Yet, he cultivated a relationship with God.
4. Cultivate gratitude. Research shows that being thankful and grateful is good for us! It reduces stress, promotes optimism and hopefulness, and even boosts the immune system.
5. Journal. Writing our thoughts down gets us out of our head. It can be cathartic and therapeutic.
6. Jam! Put on some music, sing, and dance. It will release "happy hormones" like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
7. Walk. Going outside and enjoying the beauty of nature is a natural stress-buster.
These are but a few suggestions, but the key is realizing that we have the power to stop ruminating. We do not have to be "lost in thought" or feel powerless to rumination. By opting to receive the word of God our Creator, who knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:2) and making a volitional decision to think on the things outlined in Philippians 4:8. By activating God's word in our lives by faith, we can experience emotional freedom and joy unspeakable (I Peter 1:8).
Father, in the name of Jesus, thank you for the divine revelation that I do not have to be captive to ruminating thoughts. Thank you for giving me the key to living a life of victory! I pray for the grace and strength to appropriate your word to this area in my life. Thank you for a divine interruption off the non-productive path of ruminating and re-routing me onto the path of an abundant, satisfying, and fulfilling life according to your word (John 10:10). I receive it by faith, in Jesus' name. Amen.