Being in a low mood every now and then is a normal part of life’s ebb and flow, and, as you’ve seen, can even help us to adapt and build resilience. However, if you experience frequent or extended low moods accompanied by negative or self-defeating thoughts, you may be stuck in a rumination loop.
Rumination loops happen when uncomfortable emotions or self-judgment replay in our heads to the point that we get drawn further into a bad mood instead of letting it naturally pass. The practice of mindfulness can be a good technique for breaking a rumination loop because it encourages us to observe and relate to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions—as they arise—without judgment.
Meditative breathing is a cornerstone of mindfulness and a good place to start on your mindfulness journey.
A Mindful Breathing Meditation
- Sit or lie comfortably
- Focus your attention on either your nose or your abdomen and begin slow, deep breathing
- Breathe in – acknowledge the breath entering your body
- Breathe out – acknowledge the breath leaving your body
- Continue breathing – each time your mind wanders away from your breath, think calmly to yourself—wandering—and gently bring your focus back to your breath entering and leaving your body.
If you practice this technique regularly for a few minutes each day, you’ll tend to feel more peaceful and clear, and find it easier to remain in the present. This can help you adjust your mood if it strays into a rumination loop. As with the breath, just think calmly to yourself— ruminating — and gently steer your thoughts back to a more constructive path.
Like any skill, mindfulness meditation becomes stronger with repetition. With enough practice, it could even become second nature.