8 Ways To Stop Ruminating On Bad Memories

8 Ways To Stop Ruminating On Bad Memories

Everyone experiences ruminating thoughts at times. However, ruminating on bad memories can lead to mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. When ruminating on these memories has a negative impact on your emotional well-being, it is important to know how to stop. Below are 8 ways to stop ruminating on bad memories.


What Is Rumination


Rumination is repetitively dwelling on a negative thought, feeling, or event. This can include recent or past memories. When you ruminate, the focus is on continuously going over in your mind what occurred, rather than processing the experience or looking for solutions. For instance, you might obsessively go over a conversation you had with your boss that didn’t go well, or you may ruminate about the last fight you had before a bad break up. Oftentimes, these repetitive thoughts revolve around negative past events or traumas.


Rumination And Mental Health


While everyone might ruminate about a recent occurrence from time to time, ruminating on traumatic events or memories that occurred in the distant past can be related to some mental health conditions. If you experience depression, you may ruminate on not feeling like you are good enough, or that you will never feel better. These negative ruminations can increase symptoms of depression. Anxiety can lead to rumination about something bad happening such as a job loss, or physical illness. Those who experience posttraumatic stress disorder might ruminate about an intensely traumatic situation, experiencing it over and over again. Unfortunately, rumination can intensify negative thoughts and feelings and perpetuate anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Below are some things you can try to minimize ruminating on bad memories.


1. Practice Self Compassion


Self-compassion is about being kind and gentle with yourself. Instead of berating yourself for a mistake or a bad outcome, treat yourself with empathy and understanding. Treat yourself the way you would treat a close friend in the same situation. Say kind things to yourself and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and it will be alright. Beating yourself up will often increase ruminating on bad memories, as you reinforce negative self-beliefs. If you are gentle and caring with yourself instead, it can allow you to stop ruminating and focus on ways to create a better outcome going forward.


2. Distract Yourself


When you notice yourself ruminating on bad memories, do something to distract yourself from your thoughts. The best way to do this is to participate in an activity that requires you to focus. You could talk to a friend, read a book, exercise, take a walk, listen to music, or try out a new recipe. If doing these things is not enough to keep the rumination at bay, you can try doing complicated math problems in your head, or reciting something you memorized. Distractions can give you a chance to take a break from focusing on your thoughts.


3. Practice Mindfulness


Practicing mindfulness can help you stop ruminating. Mindfulness refers to being perfectly present in the current moment without judgment. To practice mindfulness, it is important to engage all of your senses on the task at hand. Notice what you are touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. It is normal for thoughts to come into your mind while you are practicing mindfulness. Instead of attaching to these thoughts, let them come and go and return your focus to engaging all of your senses. You can practice mindfulness with anything. Some common mindfulness activities include meditation, focusing on your breath, and getting out in nature.


4. Repeat A Mantra


Repeating a mantra can help drown out other thoughts so the focus shifts from ruminating, to the mantra. Therefore, it is helpful to say a mantra that resonates with you. You could repeat a phrase, such as thoughts are just thoughts. Repeat a saying that has special meaning to you, such as something a loved one would always say to you. Even repeating a word like stop over and over again can be enough to stop the negative thought loop. Your mantra doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be easy to repeat and enough to override the ruminating thoughts.


5. Schedule A Time To Think


Trying to ignore your thoughts altogether, can actually make them increase. Instead of avoiding your thoughts, schedule a time of day when you allow yourself to ruminate on bad memories. Make sure to limit this time to somewhere between ten and twenty minutes. When your ruminating time is over, have something planned to help you transition. If your thoughts come up outside of the scheduled time, picture a stop sign in your head and remind yourself that you can think about it during the scheduled time tomorrow. Instead of trying to avoid your thoughts, this enables you to set boundaries around ruminating.


6. Feel Your Feelings


Ruminating on bad memories brings up a lot of uncomfortable emotions. Avoiding your feelings about the memory increases negative emotions. While it can seem a little uncomfortable, allowing yourself to feel your feelings can decrease rumination. To do this, name the feeling and notice where you feel it in your body. Sit with the sensation and let it be. Spend about ten minutes sitting with your feelings and then transition by doing something that requires your focus. If you can do this daily, the negative feelings and the rumination should decrease.


7. Focus On The Context Of The Memory


Instead of ruminating on a bad memory, you can try focusing on the context around the memory. This way the focus isn’t on the sadness or embarrassment you felt, it is on what was happening during the memory. You can think about what the weather was like, what time of day it was, or who was there with you. Any non-emotional context that you focus on can help decrease the strong emotional reaction related to the memory, which can help decrease rumination as well.


8. Talk To Someone


When you ruminate on a bad memory, it can be difficult to stop the negative thought loop. Talking to someone about the memory can be enough to help stop the rumination. You can talk to a friend, a family member, or a therapist. Doing this can help you feel less alone. Verbalizing the memory can make it seem less scary. It can help you see it in a different context, which can decrease the negative emotions. If you can’t talk to someone about it, writing it down can also help you view it less emotionally.


If you find yourself ruminating on bad memories, try the tips above. Doing some of these things can help decrease the rumination. Therapy can help if the ruminating thoughts lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD. When you stop ruminating on bad memories, your emotional well-being can improve.


7 Ways To Create Emotional Safety In Your Relationship

7 Ways To Create Emotional Safety In Your Relationship

Feeling emotionally safe in your relationship creates a level of comfort that allows you to be open and vulnerable with your partner. You can feel safe to be yourself and to share who you are with your partner with little fear of rejection, or abandonment. Emotional safety is the foundation for a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. Below are seven ways to create emotional safety in your relationship.


What Is Emotional Safety


Emotional safety is a belief and feeling that you can be your authentic self in your relationship without fear of judgment or harm. This allows you to be vulnerable, open, and intimate with your partner and to freely express your thoughts and emotions. Emotional safety creates an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. There is mutual respect, trust, and compassion within the relationship, even during times of conflict. Emotional safety is the basis for a securely attached relationship. When you feel emotionally safe in your relationship, you can be who you really are and say what you need to say.


Benefits Of Emotional Safety


There are a number of benefits that couples experience when there is emotional safety in their relationship. When you feel emotionally safe with your partner, it is easier to share deeply and be more vulnerable. This allows your partner to really know and understand who you are. Feeling heard and understood helps strengthen your connection and increases intimacy. When you feel accepted for who you are, you can feel empowered to try new things and take some risks. This helps you grow and change with your partner instead of growing apart. When emotional safety is lacking in your relationship, communication can be difficult, conflicts can increase, and it can be hard to trust each other. Here are some things you can do to increase emotional safety in your relationship.


1. Respect Boundaries


All relationships require boundaries in order to function effectively. Boundaries teach others how you expect to be treated and what your limits are. In order to create emotional safety in your relationship, it is important to respect your partner’s boundaries. For instance, if your partner asks you not to call them a certain nickname, and you stop doing it, you enhance the emotional safety in your relationship. When you feel that your boundaries will be respected by your partner, it is easier to establish healthy boundaries which can increase relationship satisfaction and decrease feelings of resentment.


2. Communicate Often


Effective communication can help relationships thrive. In an emotionally safe relationship, it is easier to talk to your partner about your concerns, struggles, and needs. This is because there is mutual respect and the belief that your partner wants to understand you on a deeper level. The more you communicate, the safer it becomes to communicate openly. When you share yourself, your feelings, and your grievances with your partner, they can feel safe doing the same with you. If there is a safe space to openly communicate in your relationship, it can feel more comfortable asking for what you need. Talking with your partner about anything and everything, makes it safer to talk about the important things.


3. Practice Active Listening


In order to create emotional safety around communication, it is important to practice active listening. Active listening requires you to listen to your partner in order to further your understanding. When you actively listen to your partner, it helps them feel both heard and understood. Active listening is about being fully present with your partner. This means putting away all distractions, making eye contact, and withholding judgment. Open-ended questions can be asked to help further your understanding and it is okay to reflect on what is being said by summarizing what you hear. When practicing active listening, it is necessary to pay attention to non-verbal cues along with what is being said. 


4. Be More Vulnerable


Being truly vulnerable with someone can be a little scary. If your partner knows who you really are, what you think, and what you need, they can hurt you, or worse, reject you. It is normal to want to hold back in order to protect yourself. However, it is impossible to feel loved and accepted if you are not being your authentic self. The more vulnerable and open you can be in your relationship, the more emotionally safe you can feel. Although vulnerability is always a risk, you can start small by honestly sharing your needs, wants, and desires with your partner. If you feel hurt by something your partner says or does, tell them this instead of holding back. Give your partner a chance to accept you, warts and all.


5. Respond With Empathy


When your partner opens up and shares with you, responding with empathy can go a long way towards creating emotional safety in your relationship. Empathy refers to understanding and having compassion for what another is experiencing from their perspective, not your own. Empathy requires you to listen without judgment and focus on the way your partner is feeling about what they are sharing. When you respond with empathy, you want to validate your partner’s experience at the feeling level. Saying things like, “that sounds hard”, or “I can see that this was upsetting”, lets your partner know that you understand what they are going through. Instead of trying to fix things, responding with empathy enables you to really get to know who your partner is.


6. Express Gratitude


It feels good when you know your partner appreciates you. Expressing gratitude in your relationship can help increase emotional safety. Expressing gratitude to your partner lets you share what you appreciate about your partner. This helps shift the focus from the things that aren’t going well, to the more positive things. You can write your partner a thank you note, verbally express your appreciation, or let them know what you like about their personality or character. When you express gratitude, it is important to explain why you are grateful. Doing this provides context that helps your brain accept and process the compliment, and makes you want to repeat the action. Expressing gratitude to your partner makes both of you feel good which enhances emotional safety in your relationship.


7. Show Support


You can feel emotionally safe in your relationship when you know that you have a supportive partner. Showing support to your partner can include expressing physical affection, letting your partner vent to you, and taking some of the burden off of your partner by doing more around the house. In a relationship, expecting equality at all times isn’t realistic. If you are sick, lose your job, or you are caring for a struggling loved one, you want your partner to be there to support you and pick up the slack. Without this support, things can feel overwhelming. In order to create more emotional safety in your relationship, you need to show your partner that you are there for them when they need help.


Creating emotional safety in your relationship can help enhance your couple connection. If you are lacking that feeling of emotional safety, you can try the above tips, or couples counseling. When you feel emotionally safe with your partner, you can feel comfortable being yourself, knowing that you are accepted and valued because of who you are.

Living With A Chronic Illness

Living With A Chronic Illness

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can impact your life in many ways. Along with the physical struggles, there are often emotional and relationship challenges as well. Although living with a chronic condition can be challenging, there are things you can do to help lessen some of the negative effects on other parts of your life.




What Is A Chronic Illness

A chronic illness is a condition that lasts for a long period of time, at least a year, and often cannot be cured, but can be controlled. Chronic illnesses such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases can have a big impact on your daily life. Managing a chronic illness can require changes to your daily routine and way of living. Chronic illnesses are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with nearly 50 percent of Americans living with a chronic disease.




How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Daily Life

Living with a chronic illness can impact your daily life in a number of ways. Managing your condition can require many doctor visits, causing you to miss work, or social engagements. Medications and treatments that are needed to manage your illness can cause unwanted side effects that can lead to fatigue and moodiness. This can make it difficult to complete your daily chores and rituals as easily as you could before the illness. You may need to rely more on family and friends for help and assistance with tasks that you could easily complete in the past. Your symptoms may be fine one day, and debilitating the next day which can cause you to feel a lack of control over your day to day existence.




How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Physical Health

There are many ways that a chronic illness can affect you physically. Many illnesses cause symptoms such as pain and fatigue. Being in constant pain, or experiencing fatigue makes it difficult to function effectively and enjoy your life. Sometimes the symptoms of a chronic illness can include physical disabilities and vision and hearing loss. These symptoms can greatly impact your quality of life. Necessary medications can have a number of side effects that can be hard to deal with. It can also be difficult to get quality sleep, leading to constant fatigue. You may notice that your stamina and muscle strength decrease, as a consequence of your chronic illness.

How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Mental Health

Chronic illnesses can have a negative impact on your mental health as well. You may experience an increase in symptoms of depression as you are no longer able to do some of the things you used to enjoy. This can lead to withdrawal and isolation which can further increase symptoms of depression. Anxiety is also common with some chronic conditions, as you may worry about having an attack, or the disease progressing. Side effects of your illness and its treatment can also exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having a chronic illness can lead to inflammation and changes in hormones and neurotransmitters, which can increase depression and anxiety. The emotional and physical stress associated with being diagnosed with a chronic condition can lead to some struggles with your mental health.

How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Relationships

Having a chronic illness can cause issues in your relationships. Pain and other effects of a chronic condition can cause you to socialize less often than you used to. This can make it difficult to maintain friendships. Managing your illness can leave little time to participate in your hobbies and engage with others outside of work. Your intimate partner may need to take on more of a caregiving role, which can impact your connection and the way you view one another.  Household responsibilities can fall more to your partner, which may lead to resentment. Romantic and sexual interest can diminish because of your disease, creating distance and disconnection with your partner.

What Can Help

Although living with a chronic condition can be challenging, there are things that can help. You can focus on self-care activities such as eating healthy meals, exercising, and getting the rest you need, which can help increase your energy and decrease some of the pain and fatigue. Reach out to friends and family for help with chores and for emotional support, to ease some of your burden. Discuss your needs and limitations with your partner. Spend quality time together where the focus is on each other, not the illness. Prioritize your mental health by joining a support group to share your experiences with others that can understand. Attend therapy to address symptoms of anxiety and depression and to process the struggles involved with living with a chronic illness.

Having a chronic illness can affect your life in a number of different ways. It doesn’t just affect you physically, your mental health and relationships can also be impacted. If you are struggling with your mental health or relationship after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, therapy can help. With proper support, you can effectively manage the impact of your condition, both physically and emotionally.

6 Tips To Support Someone Who Is Suicidal

6 Tips To Support Someone Who Is Suicidal

It can be quite distressing to suspect that a loved one may be having suicidal thoughts. You may want to talk to them and try to help, but aren’t quite sure what to do. While you may not have all of the answers, opening up a dialogue, finding resources, and showing support can make all the difference. Below are 6 tips to support someone who is suicidal.


1. Know The Warning Signs


While it can be difficult to know if someone is contemplating suicide, there are common warning signs to look for. Someone who has made a previous suicide attempt or has experienced a traumatic event, or loss may be more likely to consider suicide. If your loved one has become withdrawn and isolated and avoids spending time with others, this can be a sign that they are having suicidal thoughts. Sleeping more or less than usual, or eating more or less than normal can be warning signs. Experiencing mood swings or changes in behavior, such as becoming more agitated or aggressive, may suggest your loved one is suicidal. When your loved one talks about feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness or that everyone would be better off without them, they might be thinking about suicide. Finally, if they begin giving their things away and have a dramatic shift from a severely depressed mood to an unusually happy mood, they may be planning a suicide attempt.


2. Start A Conversation


If you think that your loved one is having suicidal thoughts, it is important to talk to them about it. While having suicidal thoughts does not necessarily mean that they are going to attempt suicide, opening up the conversation can help them feel supported and understood, and may just save their life. Although it can be hard to know exactly what to say, pointing out the warning signs you’ve noticed can be a good place to start. You can point out that you have noticed that they seem sad and have been spending more time alone. This can help open up the conversation so they can safely and freely talk about their situation.


3. Ask Direct Questions


Once the conversation has started, feel free to ask more direct questions. You can ask them directly if they have thought about hurting themselves. Asking about suicide and whether or not they have a plan, can provide you with important information about your loved one. While some believe that talking about suicide might put the idea in their loved one’s head, this in fact is not true. Having an open dialogue about this subject gives them a chance to open up about their thoughts and feelings. By being direct yourself, you may encourage your loved one to openly share their struggles as well.


4. Listen Without Judgment


When they do start opening up, make sure to listen to try to understand, without judgment. Although it may be difficult to learn that your loved one is thinking about suicide, tell them that you will listen. Encourage them to share more, and let them know that you are there for them. You don’t have to understand exactly what they are experiencing to show empathy and support. Let them know that they are not alone and that they can talk to you. It is more helpful to listen than to give advice or try to talk them out of their feelings. However, you can offer to help them find more support.


5. Help Them Find Support


If your loved one is thinking about suicide, they may be feeling overwhelmed and could find it difficult to look for help. This is something that you can help them with. You can help them find a mental health professional and take them to their appointment if they are nervous about going alone. If they need to tell other family members or friends about what they are experiencing, you can offer to be there for support. You can give them the number to the national suicide hotline, 988, and call or text it with them. If you are concerned for their immediate safety, you can take them to the emergency room, or call 911. Even if you help them find other support, make sure you check in on them often.


6. Create A Safety Plan


Another way to help a loved one that is thinking about suicide, is to create a safety plan with them. A suicide safety plan is a written set of instructions for your loved one to follow if suicidal thoughts or ideation increase. List out the warning signs that you and your loved one notice when symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts tend to get worse. For instance, a warning sign could be isolating and not taking care of themselves. Include things they can do to help calm down. They might exercise, listen to music, or belly breathe. Help them create a list of reasons to live. Such as, their pets or family. This list should also include things they are looking forward to in the future, like a trip or finishing school. Finally, include numbers of trusted family, friends, professionals, and hotlines like 988 that they can call if they need additional support. At the end of the safety plan you can add to call 911 if they are still feeling unsafe. While a safety plan is not a guarantee, it does provide a step-by-step plan to follow if  suicidal thoughts increase. 


If you are worried that a loved one may be suicidal, try to start a conversation using the above tips. Helping someone through this type of crisis can be mentally and emotionally difficult, so remember to practice good self-care. Although you can’t fix things for your loved one, you can be there for them and help them find the resources they need. 

Grounding Techniques

Grounding Techniques

Anxiety and panic can seem to happen out of the blue. A rush of adrenaline occurs and your thoughts take over. These thoughts can be very hard to stop, once they start. You can begin to feel disconnected from yourself and everything around you. In order to get out of your head and get back into the present moment, you can try a grounding technique.


Grounding Techniques


Grounding techniques are strategies you can use to help bring you back into the present moment. These techniques can reconnect you to yourself, your body, and the current time and place. Grounding techniques are used to get you out of your head and the focus on the past or the future, and to bring you back to the here and now. These tools can lessen the fight, flight, or freeze response and enable you to calm down. Anything that allows you to focus on the present moment can be a grounding technique. Having several of these techniques to use can be beneficial in a variety of different situations.


When To Use Them


Any time you are in your head too much, is a good time to use a grounding technique. These strategies can be used to calm down anxiety and even stop a panic attack from becoming overwhelming. If you have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks or negative thoughts become problematic, grounding techniques can help you refocus your attention on what is going on around you instead. Grounding tools can be used to keep you attuned to the present situation if you are likely to dissociate. Below are some grounding techniques you can try if anxiety or PTSD are an issue.


Practice Mindfulness


The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to engage all of your senses with whatever you are currently doing. If you are washing the dishes, notice the temperature of the water and how it feels. Breathe in and notice what you smell. Pay attention to what the running water sounds like. When you eat dinner, notice the smells and savor the taste. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your focus back to your senses. This helps you notice the external sensations, which can help quiet the internal thoughts.



Along with mindfulness, you can practice the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This tool requires you to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It doesn’t matter what order you do it in. For instance, if you are eating dinner, you may want to start with 5 things you can taste, and 4 things you can smell. You can say these things out loud or in your head. This is another way to use mindfulness to ground yourself in the present moment.


Pay Attention To Your Breath


Paying attention to your breath is another way to ground yourself in the moment. You can start by simply noticing your breath and whether it is fast or slow, shallow or deep. When you start noticing your breath, it will most likely begin to slow down and regulate. You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing. To do this you want to breathe in for 3 and expand your stomach as you breathe in. On the exhale, contract your stomach and breath out for 7. You can exaggerate the out breath, as the out breath is what helps calm you down.




Exercising can help orient you to your body in the moment. You can walk, run, swim, ride your bike, take an exercise class, practice yoga, or simply do some light stretches. Moving your body helps get you out of your head and back into the present moment. If you are unable to exercise when you are feeling anxious, you can try to balance on one foot, or just stand up and notice how your legs and back are supporting you.


Other Techniques


Some other grounding techniques you can try include, holding an ice cube and noticing what it is like and what is happening as it melts from the warmth of your hand. Drinking something really hot or very cold and paying attention to the sensation. Listening to your favorite music, coloring, playing a game, laughing with your friends, and cuddling your pet are all ways that you can ground yourself in the present moment.


If you are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD and are having a hard time feeling connected to the present, try some of the grounding techniques above. These techniques can be used to keep your thoughts from taking over. If you try these techniques and are still struggling, therapy can help. When you are able to ground yourself in the present moment, symptoms of anxiety and PTSD can decrease.

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