Ever think back to a past hurt, regret or embarrassment–like failing a test or having someone break up with you–then get stuck in a negative spiral, unable to stop yourself from thinking about it or replaying the incident over and over in your head?
This kind of rumination happens to most of us at some point. However, according to a recent study from the University of Maine, we gals are more prone to churning painful memories over and over in our mind during our premenstrual phase as a fall in estrogen pushes us toward the negative end of our mood spectrum.
I’m in my premenstrual week right now and can attest that when my mind wanders–for instance, when I’m taking a shower or watering the plants–negative memories pop up out of nowhere. And it takes a lot of effort to stop continually thinking about them.
Now a new study in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience reveals a simple technique that stops these painful memories from our past replaying in our minds so we can move on to more positive thoughts. Here’s what to do:
The next time one of these negative memories pops up in your head, think of something non-emotional that was part of that experience, for instance, what the weather was like that day or what you were wearing.
This steers your focus away from the unwanted emotionally-charged elements of the recollection to non-emotional parts.
And that’s key since “once you immerse yourself in other details, your mind will wander to something else entirely, and you won’t be focused on the negative emotions as much,” says lead study author Florin Dolcos, Ph.D.
I actually tried this technique today and was impressed with how effective it worked. If you try it, let me know if worked for you, too!