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Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting Unstuck

Self-intervention strategies for depression

 What do you do when you are despondent or anxious ("stressed")?  I think it is easy to stay there and wind yourself down even further.  If you ruminate, repeat bad thoughts in your mind, and dwell on the discouraging feelings, you can make yourself worse and worse.  Inertia sets in and you can continue in the same depressed/apprehensive mode or, worse,- keep spiraling down further and further,- if you don't interrupt it.
It's difficult to make that U-turn but once you've felt your emotions, identified them, given yourself some sympathy and checked to see if there's anything to learn from your reaction, it's time, in my opinion to start intervening with yourself.

Of course undesirable things happen---to everybody.  Unfortunate events of this kind are real, they are part of life for all of us.  And we will react.  But, if we hang on to a litany of our bad luck, we do ourselves a disservice.
So how do you help yourself?  It would be fascinating to hear from any of you who would share your ideas and experience with what has helped you.

George Burns, when asked how he lived to be 100 years old, said:  "Nothing bothers me."
Krishnamurti said:  "I don't mind what happens."
Dr. Maoshing Ni says:  "You can expand your emotional elasticity by cultivating tolerance."
These three seem to be on to the same thing.

Personally, I can get to the same place but I have to do things to get there.  Here are some of the things I do:

1.  Find an activity that is completely out of my normal routine and is very engaging (takes me out of myself, displaces my repeated problematic thoughts)-even better if it can be with someone whose companionship I enjoy and if it can be a productive activity (not just entertainment).
2.  Take some time off from work; go to another place, even for a very short stay, a place of peace.  I go to an area that is quiet, slow-paced, and beautiful---usually in nature.
3.  I focus on finding that tranquil place in my own mind that I have in my repertoire; I know I've felt it before, so I try to get there mentally. (especially important before sleep)
4.  I find a sentence or "mantra" that I can repeat to myself that is the exact opposite of whatever bad thing I have been telling myself or am troubled by (cognitive therapy).
5.  Even if yet another unlucky thing happens at this point, I find the part to be grateful for.  For example, a near auto collision with another driver who unexpectedly cut in front of me, let me be grateful for my great brakes, glad to have a car with good steering, able to note my own alertness and quick reaction time and happy to be, rather than in some hospital emergency room, able to go on with my day.
6.  A critical or mean remark from another will be looked upon as their own negativity popping out because they were momentarily unable to control it.
7.  Meditate.
8.  Do yoga.
9.  Get physically active.
Try not to aggravate your stress reaction with what AA calls, "stinkin' thinkin'" and figure out ways to help yourself.  Find a good therapist.

(Other posts pertinent to this topic:   Wise Words From a Long-Term Patient & "Stress Reducing Methods")
Did you try any of these?  Did it help?

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