Overcoming depression is undoubtedly a major challenge in any one’s life, particularly as it is a condition that is likely to affect one in every three of us. A major life event can trigger this condition in any one of us, creating an extreme sense of loss.
Once we have identified that our low moods seem to stubbornly overshadow every waking moment, it is important to seek medical advice. In the meantime there is a strategy we can use for ourselves to help us on our way toward recovery.
An effective strategy is to start being grateful for what we do have and to focus on what we actually have. Simplistic as this strategy may seem, it is in fact a very powerful tool. Let me firstly explain why.
When we feel so low that we begin to feel like life is synonymous to going through some endless dark colour-less painful tunnel, it is usually because we are experiencing some intense form of ‘lack’. This lack can result from a lack of love from a meaningful relationship, a lack of money from a change of circumstance, a lack of confidence/self-esteem from losing your job or status, a lack of life’s opportunities due to a life changing accident. These are just a few examples of many. Either way they all represent an intense form of loss, leaving us with what we think to be a bleak future. So, the answer lies in reversing this condition with our own inner resources. A quote from Albert Ellis (a renowned American Pschycologist) “You largely constructed your depression. It wasn’t given to you. Therefore you can deconstruct it”
Now, just before you feel immensely offended at the potential accusation that you alone are responsible for your depression, do take into account that depression is not necessarily inherited, but in fact is learned behaviour. If you come from a family seemingly plagued by depression it is only natural that you would have learned how to respond to life events by the behaviours you saw and copied, as well as the attitude of others around you influencing how you view the world and life opportunities around you. In growing up, your habits, or ways of thinking, would seem perfectly normal to you as that was the only way to be as you knew it. We can change the way we view the world as indeed the way we interact with it and of course how we view ourselves.
There are several strategies to fully overcome every possible negative thought we hold about ourselves but the one strategy we can more easily employ above any other to reverse that great sense of lack that presides so strongly with depression is “gratefulness”.
This strategy requires a 4 week commitment. You will notice an improvement very usually around the second and third week. So let’s begin:
On days one to three, each day think of five things for which you are grateful, examples might be:
‘I am grateful for having a roof over my head’
‘I am grateful for having somewhere to sleep’ (many are homeless, sleeping rough)
‘I am grateful that I have family that care’
‘I am grateful I have access to running water’
‘I am grateful for living in a country that allows freedom of movement’
On days four to seven think of 10 different things you are grateful for each day. There are so many things that we possibly take for granted, if you can think of more than ten different things each day then all the better! Celebrate your mobility, celebrate your level of income, celebrate your friends, celebrate your mobile with which to communicate, celebrate nature, the parks etc.
On days eight to ten be grateful for 15 things a day, on days. eleven to fourteen 25 different things. On days fifteen to twenty one, think of 35-40 things for which you are grateful. At this stage as you enter your final week, your ‘gratefulness juices’ should be flowing to such an extent that you are easily reaming off 50 and more different things to celebrate. You are likely to have begun developing a sense of appreciation and joy of those things around you in your life. At this stage there is every likelihood that your low moods will have improved somewhat in readiness to begin using positive self-talk which will help improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Those of you who have had long-standing depression may be further helped using the Bach Flower remedy ‘gorse’ to balance your sense of feeling a sense of total hopelessness.
In recognising the wealth of so many things that are good and positive around you, there is an increased likelihood that you will start engaging your emotions that were previously switched off. The emotional numbness previously experienced will very likely dissipate and become replaced with that wonderful sense of joy, as long as we allow ourselves to think and feel positively about ourselves – and why wouldn’t we?. It’s just down to choice, for whatever anyone told you, believe me, you are a miraculous being bursting with individual talent and you can achieve anything once you put your mind to it.
Overcoming depression is in fact a reversible process but requires effort and commitment as indeed is the case with all worthwhile projects. Applying the principle of gratefulness regularly on a daily basis for 28 days can not only improve our low moods but direct us toward a successful path of full recovery, opening us up to connecting with our emotions so we can begin to attract more positive things in our lives. It’s just down to choice, for whatever anyone told you, believe me, you are a miraculous being bursting with individual talent and you can achieve anything once you put your mind to it.