Faulty thinking can take the joy out of living. People’s minds can play tricks on them, leading them to view the world as if through dark sunglasses. The misery an individual is experiencing is probably proportional to the extent of their faulty thinking habits. Therapy is often focused on changing habitual thought patterns so that they run along more positive, life enhancing tracks.
When you are overwhelmed and struggling, it is possible to slip into feeling hopeless and wonder if it would be easier to just give up. Before you give into that dark thought, please consider the following questions and suggestions. As stress has increased in your life, you may have start to feel frazzled and self-care may be one of the last things on your mind. Everything seems worse when you are feeling frazzled. Take heart there may be some simple things that you can do to give yourself some relief. The following questions point to simple things that may have a bigger impact on how you are feeling than you would imagine.
Are you sleep-deprived?
Lack of sleep will definite affect your mood and ability to cope with even the simplest things. It is also one of those cyclical things where your mood affects your ability to sleep. To get your sleep back on track you might try a guided meditation intended to induce sleep, arrange for some respite, establish a healthy sleep routine and see your doctor if necessary.
Are you hangry (angry because you are hungry)? When did you last eat?
If it has been more than three hours since you last ate, pause and give your body something nourishing—protein, fruits, vegetables. You may find your mood improving.
Are you well hydrated?
Even mild dehydration can affect your mood, your energy level and your ability to think clearly. Thirst may be a factor if you are experiencing unexplained mood swings.
Have you moved your body recently?
Exercise releases endorphin and exercising regularly helps to boost your mood. Go for a walk, go to the gym or turn on some music and dance. Walking daily in sunlight is one of the best defenses against depression.
Are you showered and groomed?
A shower or soak in the tub may do more than clean your body. It may also help release tension and sooth you emotionally. Feeling clean and put together tends to be a mood booster.
Are you eating too much sugar and or processed foods like white breads, pastas, rice, or chips?
Eating more whole foods may significantly improve your mood and reduce your risk for depression. Experiment by eating some protein with each meal and eating a balanced diet including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Have you smiled at someone today (including yourself)?
Especially if you do not feel like smiling; choosing to smile can boost your mood. Not only does your expression reflect your mood but the reverse is also true. When you choose to smile the feel good chemicals endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are released in your brain, naturally boosting your mood.
Have you hugged someone today? Or spent time with your pet?
If you do have someone to hug—hug them for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have a pet or someone to hug, consider visiting a local pet store or animal shelter. Somewhere that allows you to pet and spend time with an animal. Positive physical touch can increase your serotonin levels and elevate your mood.
Have you accomplished something today?
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to put one foot in front of the other. Do it anyway. Stop right now and complete one small task. Focus only on the next 5 minutes. Clear off your desk or kitchen table, organize your sock drawer or clean the bathroom mirror. A sense of accomplishment, even for small things can help boost your mood.
Has your medication changed? Or have you missed a dose?
If you do not feel more settled in a couple of days see your doctor or psychiatrist. Be open with them about how you are feeling and any changes in medication, especially if what you have been doing varies from what was prescribed.
Do you have a counsellor? Have you seen your counsellor recently?
If you don’t have an appointment, make one. If you do have an appointment, hang on until you can talk things through with your therapist.
Pain is not suffering. Suffering is the pain we hold onto. Deepak Chopra We rely on what our body tells us to determine pain, anxiety, stress or depression. Then our bodies follow the habits they have made to deal with those feelings.
What we need to understand is that each feeling has an energy associated with it and it is that energy we are experiencing. The suffering part of “I suffer from stress or depression” and so on is our interpretation of feeling that energy.
We need to strip away the interpretation and deal with the energy, discharge the negative energy. Each of these feelings has a physical component that we can let go of. So instead of feeling stressed, lets deal with the energy of being stressed or sad or depressed or anxious. In his book The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra says, “all energies are discharged the same way.”
He list 5 things to do. 1) Take a deep breath, sit quietly and feel the sensation in your body. 2) Feel that sensation without judgment, don’t fight it, push against it. Be with it quietly. 3) Let the feelings, thoughts, energies come up as they want to—often we will have to listen to ourselves be anxious, depressed, angry, sad or whatever. Let the voices say what they want to say, listen, understand what is happening, often we can ask what do I have to learn from this… 4) Sit and let those things just fade away into the nothingness, with no holding on. 5) Repeat the process the next day, as often as is needed.
The whole process should take no more than 5 minutes. Being aware of the “I” is our natural state and the other feelings of stress and so forth are unnatural, learned through our lives from watching and listening to others.
To be stressed, depressed, anxious, sad, angry, hurt and suffering all waste our valuable energy. These are all complex emotional states and can really wear us out. We need to simplify our lives. We need to find our true and real self and embrace that self. The “I am” not the “I am sick, stressed, anxious,” well you know what I mean.
We are not what we do; we are not our emotions and our illness or issues. We are special, unique individuals, with perfect, unlimited potential. We get to choose who we are and what we will be. when we are distressed, in pain, anxious or depressed we often lose that choice. We are stuck in our pain, we haven't discharged that negative energy.
We need to be willing to face ourselves in the mirror and say, “Who are you really? Who do you wish to be?” When you can answer that question honestly, truthfully and openly there is another question to ask, “why aren’t I that now?” The answers to that question often lead us to our blocks, where negative energy is being stored. Again, the secret is to sit and just let those blocks and that energy be discharged into quiet peaceful acceptance of "I am."
So, in summary, we are who we are, not what we do or what others say we are. We need to understand the energy we spend “suffering” from our problems and issues is wasted energy. Deal with those issues, discharge all this negative energy through this non-invasive approach that accepts and allows them to be. These types of issues are like a little child tugging on his mommy’s pant leg and saying, “Mommy. Mommy, mommy?” They are just looking to be noticed and acknowledged.
Find your I am and really live from there.
It’s an emotional circus, but you can’t get out the push brooms until the elephant dances. Nora Roberts
“We cannot live what we cannot dream.” Richard Paul Evans The Four Doors Why do I call depression the new plague? Let’s take a look at the definition of a plague. Plague: pestilence, outbreak, curse, afflict with and it has synonyms like disease and infection. Now let’s take a look at depression: despair, slump and synonyms like misery, hopelessness and dejection. From personal experience it would not be far from the truth to say that depression is a curse. When you are afflicted with depression there seems to be no hope.
The real reason I consider depression the new plague is because of the second word in the definition of a plague, outbreak. In the last 4-5 years the number of clients coming to see me for depression has risen steadily. Research indicates that there could be as much as a 20% a year increase in the diagnosis of depression. That could be because more people are recognizing that they need help to deal with depression. However, research again indicates that 80-85% of people with depression are undiagnosed and untreated.
Some more numbers to throw at you, 1 in 33 children may suffer from depression, 1 in 8 adolescents and 1 in 10 people period. Frightening numbers. Let’s make it a little closer to home. The average family is 2 parents and 2 kids, so with extended family that works out to 2 sets of grand parents, 8 parents (aunts and uncles) and 8 kids (cousins). A total of 20 people, so factoring in the above statistic of 1 in 10, that means that in an extended family situation there is a very high possibility that 2, perhaps 3, of those people will be depressed.
Some of the symptoms are feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness, loss of the ability to control negative thought processes, which may lead to negative behavior patterns, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed and loss of self worth and esteem which leads to a loss of self-confidence. Appetite changes sleep changes, anger, irritability, loss of energy, no motivation and seemingly no choice. Self-loathing can creep in leading to reckless behavior like drinking and drug use, speeding and reckless driving with out seat belts and more important, suicidal thoughts and ideation.
Suicidal thoughts are not to be ignored; they need to be taken seriously. If you as the individual have them or you live with someone who has them, don’t joke around. Make sure you know the number of the Suicide Prevention line in your area, the name and number of a good friend, pastor, priest or counselor who knows somewhat of your situation and is willing to help. Talk to your doctor, to a counselor, a teacher or spiritual advisor; tell them of your fears and troubles, ask them if they would be willing to help you by letting you call in times of suicidal thinking. Know the way to the closest emergency room and don’t be frightened of going there, go and admit yourself, they can help.
Another fact; women suffer more often than men and they suffer differently. In men depression may present as anger, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, aggression and violence. With women it can be seen as guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, blaming self. Also with some women there may be a hormonal component. But no matter who or how it is presented it is real. It is painful, they can’t seem to find their way and have no energy or motivation to do work on it.
The very worst thing for a depressed person to hear is: “Get over it,” “You’re ok, buck up,” and my personal favorite “You know what to do, so do it.” If it were only that simple? Do people really think that a depressed person likes it so much that they will choose to stay there? Not likely. So here are some another facts for non-depressed people – it is real, it hurts, we don’t like it and don’t want to be here, if we could change it we would. In fact, most people cannot heal or deal with depression while they are depressed. You work on managing depression when you are up, not depressed. Then you have energy, motivation, thinking capabilities and so on.
Depression does not say anything about the person who is suffering, it does not mean they are flawed, lazy, crazy or whatever else people say or think. In our society there is still a stigma against the depressed person. Reality; depression is an illness, your emotions are sick. You would not think or believe bad things about yourself or your friends if they had the flu, they’re just sick. Exactly.
Acknowledge it, say you are depressed and that is alright; you may not like it but it is a fact, so just accept it. You cannot deal with what you cannot accept. Fighting against it only makes it worse, what you focus on you get, so admit that you are depressed, accept it and ask “What is my depression trying to teach me?” A question that changed my life. If we are going to be depressed we might as well learn something or it is just a waste of time.
Seek help, talk openly about it, share your experience with others who are accepting, adopt a healthy lifestyle, proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise, create and maintain a good social network which can help support you, manage your symptoms, know your triggers, understand and accept that there will be things in your life that will make managing depression hard. Note the word manage; there is no cure for depression, if fact once depressed the odds go up that you will be again, so manage it. Life cycles for everybody and depressed people are no different. Learn your cycles, do the things necessary to length the cycle out and make the dips less deep.
Know this, I believe in you, I know you can deal with it and you can be depression free longer and longer. You have the strength, the talents, the ability and the desire to do it and you will. People are survivors; we can overcome and live as happy as we want to be. Write in a journal, become your own source of strength and your own best resource. Love yourself, believe in yourself, enjoy the happy moments, embrace the sad times, but don’t linger. Remember life is good.
“Tell your story. That’s the secret of immortality. The one true way to live forever…There is the life you live and the life you leave behind. But what you share with someone else-especially someone you love-…that’s how you write your future. Brad Meltzer The Book of Lies
“A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation Wurtzel is correct; depression sucks the hope and motivation out of us. When people suffer from depression they usually feel they have no choice but to be depressed. Often this is so because we get locked into a negative belief and thinking pattern and do not have the energy or the positivity to make a chance.
Depression is an issue of skewed thinking. Think about it. When you are “up” you see the whole spectrum, the good, the happy and the positive things in life; and you see the opposite, the sad, painful and negative things in life. As we start to slide down the rabbit hole our viewpoint switches; we see less and less of the “good” things in life and more and more of the “bad.”
How? The process within our brains is thus; we think a sad thought, we feel a sad feeling, we do a sad behavior. The thought precedes every feeling and action. What thoughts? “Life is painful,” “I can never do anything right,” “life sucks,” “why bother,” and so on and so on and so on till there is no room for anything else. If all you think is sad or negative, this influences how you see the world, “you get what you focus on” and what are you seeing now, sad and hurt.
What is needed is to change our thoughts to positive. This sounds easy but it is not, it is simple, perhaps, but often solutions are. Change “life is painful” to life is painful at this moment but not always, I have just been happy.” Again simplistic, not easy. To be able to do this we need to become self-aware, to know what is going on inside us at any given moment.
How do we that? Try an experiment for 30 days. For the next 30 days, 3 or 4 times during the day try doing this. Stop. Ask yourself what am I physically feeling right now, how do my clothes feel on my skin, how does the breeze of the air conditioner feel on my face? Can I feel my feet pressing through my shoes to the floor, what does that feel like? What do I see; in detail; what do I see? What do I hear, smell, taste? What am I thinking about, what do I feel, emotionally? What am I saying to myself?
This should not take more than a few seconds. Really become aware of yourself, all of yourself in the moment. Doing this often for several days teaches yourself to be able in a second to know what is going on in you, around you. It teaches you to become aware of what you are thinking, the types of thoughts (negative or positive), the frequency, the direction they are focused on. Remember that the thoughts lead the feelings, which lead the behavior; negative thoughts, negative actions.
Once you become aware of what you are thinking you have the ability to change those thoughts through deliberate choice. “I see those thoughts and accept that I have them but I choose to focus on different, more positive thoughts. Positive thoughts, positive actions. The more we can focus our lives in the direction of being happy and positive, the less we will be depressed.
Now this seems too simple to work, but nevertheless it is true. As one who suffers with a depression issue, notice a depression issue not I am depressed, I know how this sounds. I have tried many things and I have discovered that the more I think and feel positive, the better the other methods work. This is not the cure for depression, but it is a way to help you manage it.