Part 2 of a 4-Part Series
Depression involves a deep and painful struggle that is often seemingly resistant to treatment. It has many causes and varied symptoms, including lethargy, mental rumination, loss of concentration, persistent negativity, and pervasive feelings of inadequacy. I hope to not over-simplify the struggle involved in dealing with depression. Rather, my aim is to offer some techniques that truly can alter the brain over time and foster healing and hope. The information I present in this series comes from the book, The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques by Margaret Wehrenberg.
In my first article, I discussed how we can identifying triggers, plan new responses, and start where we already are. In this second article in a four-part series on dealing with depression, I share with you three more techniques that, if practiced consistently over time, can change the depressed brain and foster healing.
Cool Down Burnout
“Burnout is a chronic affective state of physical, emotional, and cognitive exhaustion brought on by chronic stress, especially work stress.” Such conditions of chronic stress are accompanied by serious physical and mental health risks, as the immune system becomes less and less effective.
It is important to know what burnout looks like for you. Are you feeling depleted? Do you experience an exhaustion that cannot be fixed by one night’s sleep? Do you tend to get sick when a stressful period ends? These can all be signs of burnout. Other signs are: Significant changes in your personal care, smoking or drinking or overeating, decreased social interactions, isolation, feelings of depression, and an inability to continue the hectic pace that started your burnout cycle.
It is important to assess the intensity of your burn out. For example, are you skipping things you enjoy in order to get work done? How frequently are you doing this? Do you feel tired all the time? How frequently are you getting sick? Once you identify the causes of your burnout, you need to find a burnout buddy to help hold you accountable and help you to evaluate your progress. Keep a self-care list, and schedule your hair and dentist appointments now. Work on sleep hygiene. Identify what gives you energy, and schedule those things into your weekly schedule. Learn to set boundaries. Changing even one pattern can help to alleviate the feelings and symptoms associated with burnout.
Mobilize Your Energy
The neurobiology of depression – particularly the low levels of serotonin and dopamine – causes low energy. What you lack is the energy to get started. When you experience these low levels of energy, it is a good time to ask for help and encouragement from others, whether a counselor, a family member, or a good friend.
Here is a tip that you can try: Whenever you are thinking in your head, “I can’t get up” or “I can’t make myself look for a job,” try turning these statements into, “I won’t get up” or “I won’t look for a job.” Saying these statements out loud will give you a feeling of power and choice. Try it, and see if it helps.
You can also try to take a break from the problem. Do something else for a while, preferably something you enjoy, such as listening to music, praying, exercising, or meditating. See how your perspective changes after spending some time in that other activity. When you return to your task, pick a small task to do. Visualize how you will feel when it is done. Focus on the outcome. Do the task. Then pay attention to the relief or pleasure you feel once it is done.
Start small with this. Try to get out of the house. Say “Hi” to people on purpose. Send somebody an email. “Look for positives on purpose.” Commenting on the positives that you see in others has many good results: It increases your sense of control, enhances your feeling of gratitude, increases your self-value, and makes others react more pleasantly to you.
Try this exercise involving three simple steps:
- Pick a week when you will decide to make a positive comment to five people every day. These people can be a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or friend. The comments can be as simple as, “I really appreciate the way you helped me,” or “I noticed how kind you were to that child today.”
- On a piece of paper, list the days of the week, together with the numbers 1 to 5. When you make the comment, write the recipient’s name beside each number.
- Review your list in the evening and see if you can remember the comments you made.
Christian Counseling for Dealing with Depression
If you find that these activities are difficult to do, or if you just want a little extra help in dealing with depression, please consider calling a Christian counselor today. There are many resources and options available for you.
“Solitary Man,” courtesy of Splitshire.com; “Four of a Kind,” courtesy of Charles Nadeau, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.