What do you think of when you hear that word? Perhaps animals chewing their “cud?”

A ruminate animal means it has a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a different and specific function that allows the beast to eat a variety of different foods, digesting it at a later time in a safe area of cover.

Even this fawn is a ruminate

How about cud?

1. Zoology: partially digested food regurgitated from the first stomach of cattle and other ruminants to the mouth for a second chewing

2. chew the cud to reflect or think over something

Farlex Free Dictionary

Rumination is also a term used in psychology. I first heard about Dr. Winch on a Podcast called Being Well with Rick Hanson. It just so happened I was in a situation of emotional upset and very much needed to find out how to NOT ruminate about what was written and done during that time.

Author Guy Winch, Ph.D. refers to it as ‘picking at emotional scabs.’ Not a lovely image but apt. In his 2013 book entitled Emotional First Aid he states “What makes rumination a form of psychological injury is that it provides no new understandings that could heal our wounds and instead serves only to pick at our scabs and infect them anew.” Dr. Winch goes on to give treatment guidelines and exercises to help people get free of this tendency.

It is not like ruminating had never happened to me before! Trust me, many times during my life I had fell into that pit and then had to figure out how to get out of it. If you want to hear some his overall teaching you can try the following link.

I was able to get his book through Ohio Libraries. He wrote:

In order to break the self-reinforcing nature of ruminative thoughts and allow our wounds to heal we must interrupt the cycle of rumination once it gets triggered, and we should weaken the urge to ruminate at the source by diminishing the intensity of the feelings that fuel it. We must also make efforts to monitor our relationships and to ease the emotional burden we might be placing on our loved ones.

Guy Winch, PhD Emotional First Aid

His treatment ideas for ruminating are not new to psychology. They include changing perspective, distraction from emotional pain, re-framing anger and managing friendships. I have read about those techniques in other psychology books. However, the idea that someone was able to devote 28 pages to rumination was helpful to me. The book helped me see this was not just my problem, but many others experience it, too. I was able to settle the topic rather quickly (at least this time around) and move on with better mental health.

If you have found yourself ‘stewing over’ a situation or returning to a problem again and again, perhaps you are ruminating. There is a way out of that maze. He also notes that if his suggestions have not helped and the urge to ruminate is still strong …”if your ruminations interfere with your basic ability to function, seek the advice of a mental health professional.”

Rumination is also strongly tied to depression.

Guy Winch, PhD, Emotional First Aid

If you are plagued with ruminations, do not assume that reading this blog or scanning a book on mental health are all you need. Use some common sense and seek a health professional if your situation persists. This was just a report on one of my experiences. I do hope it was helpful.

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