Depression interferes with one’s capacity to be mindful. It skews one’s vision – not the vision in your eyes so much as the vision of your heart and mind.
When one is depressed their thinkings and feelings are skewed to the negative.
Often they have no ability to actually remember when things felt better or positive. They don’t have access to memories of being successful or things working well.
I call this depressive thinking. Depressive thinking is the opposite of mindful thinking. I think of depression as blocking out the exact thinking and feeling style that is required for mindfulness. It’s a problem because one of the best antidotes to depression is mindfulness.
It’s a conundrum. So I suggest the first action is to somehow trick yourself out of it.
This is difficult because the depression makes it so that you don’t have access to the part of your thinking that helps you paradigm shift, be mindful, and bring in historical positive experiences to modulate the depression.
There are a number of tricks to try. Here are some that I think are clever and effective.
Change your environment.
If you are inside and feeling bad, go outside for a walk or run or to sit in the nice sun. If you are outside in some activity go inside and look at an inspirational book or listen to beautiful music.
Take a break.
If you are dealing with a stressful activity or situation, then take a break from it to get back your distance, perspective, or focus.
Don’t give in to the seductive negative thinking – fight it. This is a big one.
Depressive thinking is seductive and the energy of depression is passive and going along with it… so to fight it is a non-depressive action. Just that can help to change the curve of your thinking and feeling.
If you feel like you want to quit and give in you can say that, acknowledge it, but then say and do the opposite – fight for your perspective.
Don’t argue and prove how your depressive thinking is right – what Richard Bach called argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours – this is the automatic depressive thinking, action. Don’t do that instead Argue with your limitations.
This is hard in the moment unless you prepare ahead of time.
Get your arguments established when you are not depressed so that you have them when you feel depressed.
Write down a list of times when you were able to get out of depression and had successful, positive experiences. Or just document that there have been good, happy times and that depression is transitory – it comes and goes SO it will go again if it comes again.
Know your depressive patterns so that you can immediately identify when you are sliding into depressive thinking.
Ask for help.
Maybe the help is another person to remind you of the whole truth of who you are your successes and positive qualities. Maybe the help is the list you created when you were feeling mindful. Go to it and read it – not fighting what it says but using the information to fight the depressive thinking.
Fight for mindfulness. Stand by yourself instead of against yourself.
Writing exercises that can help.
When you feel the depressive thoughts write them down and then write down the opposite of what you’re depressive thinking is focusing on. Also write down what you actually want. It shifts the energy of the negative, depressive thinking.
Sometimes the depressive thinking has an obsessional quality and you can’t let go of what you have stuck in your thoughts and feelings.
A great trick to deal with this, especially if it is interfering with your sleep is to write it all down. Often if you can get it out, you will find that you can sleep.
I think of this as a way to let your mind know that you will not forget about these worries – because they are written down – so your mind will quiet and let you sleep.
If what is bothering you has to do with negative events that happened in your past then writing them down is a way of dumping them so that you can have some peace for sleep.
Mindfulness is an antidote to depression. Getting to mindfulness is the best way to treat depression.
Depression can be insidious and difficult to see at first but if you can identify it is happening these tricks may be helpful to get you to a neutral place so that you can use mindfulness to redirect your thinking and actions.
Try them to see if they shorten the course of your depression or give you time to breathe so that you can get your bearings in a situation.
See you tomorrow.
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April 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm
Great Blog! Many thanks!
Mindfulness is now a NICE approved “treatment of choice” in the Uk for recurrent depression.
Like you I am keen to demystify mindfulness and make it more accessible to people who have not tried it before, but would probably benefit from it.
I have just launched http://mindfulnet.org
Mindfulnet aims to provide “everything you need to know about mindfulness on one website”.
Mindfulnet contains pages on Mindfulness in the workplace, education, judicial system as well as medical and therapeutic. It also contains a very extensive list of Mindfulness research, Links, resources, case studies and books. It also includes a page of the neuroscience of mindfulness.
The website is independent and non secular. It’s been a bit of a labour of love so I am hoping it will be a valuable mindfulness resource. Do let me know what you think
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