When you are depressed it may seem like nothing you do can make you feel better, yet there are a few pretty interesting mental tricks to fight depression that you should try, since they really do offer spectacular results. Even though depression can be treated using medication, there is also a type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT (and I’m sure many of you have already heard of it), which focuses mainly on changing your behavior. It is actually a very effective way to fight depression, and sometimes even a substitute for medication.
Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, says that this method is "much more focused on what you seem to be doing and thinking that is keeping you depressed,” and some of these techniques can be practiced at home with no special training, helping you break the cycle of negativity.
Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, author and the Director of Research and Education for the Glendon Association, considers depression to be a devious disorder “because the symptoms it creates can discourage you from completing the very actions or seeking the help that would begin your recovery.”
If you are fighting this “monster,” you should try to always keep in mind that this is actually a very common and highly treatable disorder and the best thing you should do is take action and seek help, so you won’t allow it to affect your happiness and well-being. Here are a few very useful mental tricks to fight depression that you should consider, to create a more positive mindset that will allow you to enjoy all the little things in your life:
1. Don’t Catastrophize!
In my opinion, this is definitely one of the most efficient mental tricks to fight depression. If you only focus on the negative side of things and only see the glass half-empty, you will sabotage yourself and you won’t even notice all the wonderful things in your life. Try not to always think about the worst-case scenario and be more realistic. I’m sure that if you look a little bit more closely, you’ll notice that things will work out and that there is always a solution to all your problems.
2. Focus on the Positive Things in Your Life
I know that sometimes it may be a bit hard to think about the positive things in your life. That’s why you should make an effort and commit yourself to focus only on the positives for at least a half an hour every day. A very efficient technique used in CBT is a Diary of Positive Event, which is basically a journal in which you are supposed to write all the wonderful things that happen to you every day, no matter how small or insignificant they seem sometimes. You entire mood will improve and you’ll discover that you actually have a lot to be grateful for.
3. Don’t Overanalyze Things!
Even though sometimes you might be tempted to overanalyze things and pick everything to pieces, try to fight this urge, because if you focus only on the problem and on what you think you did wrong, you won’t be able to see what you can do to improve your situation. Rumination is actually linked to a greater risk of developing and maintaining depression, so try to get rid of this bad habit, since it’s extremely damaging to your mental health.
4. Don’t Dwell on Your past!
Just try to always keep in mind that whatever you do and no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to change the past. What’s done is done and there’s no point in trying to change it, since such a thing is not possible. Instead, try to accept it (and here I am also talking about your mistakes), focus on your future and think of all the wonderful things you can achieve if you work hard enough and don’t give up. Don’t dwell on your past and don’t be so hard on yourself! People do make mistakes; we are all human after all.
5. Stick to a Structured Routine
Even if this seems a bit hard to achieve at times, don’t give up and make sure you stick to a well-structured routine. For example, make sure you get up early every day, eat your meals at the same hours and try to avoid napping during the day, so it won’t prevent you from falling asleep during the night. Studies show that people who suffer from depression tend to eat or sleep inconsistently and that contributes to their depression.
6. Avoid Black and White Thinking
People who are depressed tend to think in extremes. They only see things in black or white; but why do that when there are so many shades of grey and so many beautiful colors? Try to get rid of those negative thinking patterns, because they will only make you feel worse and they might even prevent you from doing those things that will help you feel better. For example, instead of saying “no one loves me or no one cares about me,” try saying “a lot of people (if not everybody) love me,” and see how that feels.
7. Fake It
I know this may seem a bit odd but it really does work. You do know that old saying: “Fake it ‘till you make it.” Well, what are you waiting for? There are actually a lot of studies that show that even if you’re not happy, putting on a smile will release feel-good chemicals in your brain and your entire mood will change as well. Your emotions have a big influence on the way you are thinking and behaving, so why not try to modify your emotions by behaving and thinking in a certain way?
8. Don’t Be the Victim!
Even if you’re feeling low and you think that everything bad that happens is because of you, I must tell you that you are wrong and that you can choose how you want to react to all those different events in your life. You’re not a victim, you can always take action and you can do whatever you have to in order to pursue your dreams and be successful, since all the resources you need are within you.
9. Don’t Isolate Yourself!
When you’re feeling depressed, you might want to be left alone, you might feel the urge to keep quiet and not tell anyone about your problems. Well, the best thing you can do is to avoid isolating yourself. I’m sure that your friends and family and all your loved ones would like to know how you are feeling, so don’t be afraid that you might bother them with your problems. They will be more than happy to help and they will offer you the support you need to get past that difficult period in your life.
Be kind to yourself and reach out to others if you feel the need to do it. Set some simple and realistic goals that, once achieved, will give you a sense of accomplishment that will help you deal with all those negative feelings you’re experiencing. Have you ever been depressed? How did you get past that period? Do you know any other mental tricks to fight depression? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!