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Mental rumination, also known as overthinking, is an evil little known, but unfortunately many people suffer from, mainly women. The causes? Stress, anxiety, excessive pressures that poison everyday life. Reasoning is a good thing, but when it is excessive it turns into a destructive weapon, because the mind turns in vain isolating itself in fictitious dimensions that move away from reality and from the resolution of actual problems. Mulling too much on the various hypotheses, on the circumstances, putting a thousand “ifs” and sifting through all the possible “buts” takes away energy and makes you lose sleep. You can torture yourself with a single fixed thought, a mental drill that gives no respite or travel in a thousand elucubrations connected by logical threads that are lost in the maze of our brain. When the process becomes obsessive, it turns into disturbance and there is even talk of “pathological doubt”.

A famous scholar, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, delved into the phenomenon and demonstrated with certainty that rumination is “the tendency to respond to an unease by focusing on the causes and consequences of one’s problems, without taking any concrete problem solving action”. From this lack of resolution, diseases such as depression, eating disorders or alcohol abuse can result. The Nolen-Heksema then highlighted how this perverse dynamic is more widespread among women who are naturally more inclined to think and rethink because compared to men they are educated to give more space to emotions, ending up being victims of them.

How is it possible to silence the mind?

To counteract the tendency to ruminate mentally, it is important not to ask yourself questions that cannot be answered, at least immediately, and sometimes try to respond with action rather than with your head. It is necessary to learn to heal by “blocking the thought”: if a destructive reflection arrives, it will be appropriate to let it go and not dwell indefinitely on its varied implications, perhaps moving on to some other topic. Distraction can help: when you are hit by this storm you can get up, engage in a manual or concrete activity that captures your mind, like reading a book, preparing a herbal tea, watching a movie, calling a friend, dedicating yourself to a relaxing hobby. In the event that brooding should compromise the quality of life and should take the upper hand, it is advisable to contact a specialist who will try to bring out the root causes of the discomfort, which is literally “gnawing” our soul.

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