Have you ever been stuck in a swirl of negative thoughts, rehashing things that you should or shouldn’t have said or done? Most of us will recognise this circular self-battering, a process known as rumination.
Rumination, or ‘chewing the cud’, refers to the way that certain mammals – ruminants – eat, storing their partially-digested food in a special stomach called a rumen, then regurgitating it to chew it again more thoroughly.
In humans, rumination means repeatedly brooding over events from the past, such as the break up of a relationship, or a conflict with a colleague, wondering about others’ motivations or what could have been. It can go on for hours or days.