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4 steps to stop stewing

By Lauren Glenn Manfuso for

Maybe it was an insult from a friend. The job promotion you didn’t get. Or just a proverbial glass of spilled milk. Whatever the problem, stewing over it could be dragging down your entire day, finds a study out of the University of Miami.

The report, published in the journal Emotion, tracked 157 undergraduate students who kept journals tracking their daily moods, along with unpleasant events and time spent ruminating on those occurrences. Not surprisingly, researchers concluded that when participants mulled over problems for significant periods of time, they also suffered from a poor mood all day long. On the flip side, these same participants reported better moods when they kept the stewing to a minimum—even if more bad stuff happened on that given day.

“Think about the origins of the word ruminate,” says Janis Walker, a Johns Hopkins University clinical therapist, who was not involved in the study. “It’s about a cow chewing its cud. It goes over and over and over it, and doesn’t get anywhere. When we ruminate, we’re not problem-solving.” Consequently, the problem sticks around—as does the associated negativity.

Instead, Walker advises, we’re better off finding a way to let go—although that’s easier said than done. “It can be really hard for people to do,” Walker says. “It’s a process of learning to become more mindful and to let things go and not focus on them all the time.”

Hoping to learn and let go? Fortunately, there are several strategies you can try.

Keep reading for four ways to let go of frustration…

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