Thriving with Depression
By Jenn Bovee, LCSW, CRADC, CCHt
Every day we work with clients who are living with varying levels of depression. Some just feel overwhelmed, stressed, and are experiencing poor sleep. While others struggle to get out of bed, feel like they are stuck in a hole, and just can’t “snap” out of it. Instead of spending time talking about how depression is developed, or how it impacts your brain, your brain chemistry, your body or your life; we are going to spend the rest of this blog focusing on how to help you thrive despite living with depression.
Develop A Support System: This looks different for everyone. For some people, this is forging stronger bonds with your family. For some people, this means strengthening the bonds, connection, and communication with your friends. (Or as I like to call them, Family of Choice). If neither of those feels like an option, perhaps a support group makes the most sense for you. When we have a solid support system, it helps us to decrease loneliness and isolation of depression.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene: One of the most impactful tactics I have suggested to my clients is to remove the electronics from the bedroom. This has helped them to recognize that the bed needs to remain sacred for sleep and sex. When you are not getting deep healing sleep, it makes you more susceptible to both depression and anxiety. The rationale behind this is that from a brain wave perspective, your mind heals itself in Theta and your body heals itself in Delta. Other recommendations include: setting a consistent wake and sleep time, creating a consistent and solid bedtime routine, and turning the electronics off at least an hour before bedtime.
Challenge Negative Thoughts: Developing the ability to recognize when negative thoughts are beginning to form in your brain is a huge piece of successfully regaining control over your depression. One of the most popular techniques that we teach our clients is to immediately stop the negative thoughts (which is defined as anything you don’t want) and reinforce the exact opposite. This is a powerful method. It’s crucial for you to remain mindful of the fact that you are not powerless over the thoughts that you entertain.
Keep A Success Log: This is probably one of the most fun tasks we have ever given our clients. They report that this activity is an absolute game changer. Here’s how it works: every time you do something well, every time you get a compliment, and every time you do something that sticks out (even if it’s only to you): write it down. Keep a list of all the compliments and praise you receive. It becomes super fun to log and track all of the positive experiences you have.
Gratitude: Research has shown us that simply writing down three things that you are grateful for improves people’s quality of life within three weeks. How simple is that?! Typically many clients who are living in depression are a bit resistant to focusing on gratitude because it doesn’t feel accurate and some people imply that it’s supposed to magically heal your depression. That’s not our stance at all! We just want to make improving your quality of life as simple as possible. And it seems to us that making a list daily of three things you have to be grateful for is a great place to start!
This list is not meant to be a cure or a substitution for therapy. We simply want to empower you to feel as if you have more control over your depression. We have several therapists at the Mental Wellness Center. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with someone please call us at 309-807-5077 or email us at info@TheMentalWellnessCenter.com