Monday, June 13, 2016

Mindfulness.

Something that has helped me over these past few months (when I remember it) when I relapse back into depression is to practice mindfulness exercises. Typically, I find most methods to distract myself from depressive thoughts or to correct wrong thinking patterns unhelpful, particularly when I'm in the throes of depression where my unhealthy state of mind makes it nearly impossible to listen to reason. But one night when I was feeling awful about myself, I found an old handout from a therapy group I had gone to one session of at the request of my college counselor during my junior year. I tried some of the exercises on the sheet and found them surprisingly helpful.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it encourages you to observe and accept your emotions rather than rationalizing or fighting against them, as many psychological treatment methods do. By naming and flowing with your emotions, you take away some of the power they have over you, almost like how shrugging and walking away from a kid having a tantrum can sap the energy from them because they feed off of your attention. I can't explain it too well and I probably shouldn't since I'm not an expert, but I can say is that it has helped me. It's strangely calming and helps you to take a step back and process through your feelings without getting swept away by them

I thought I would share some of the basic concepts and exercises from my sheet, in case they can be of any help.

  • Simply notice the experience without getting caught up in it or reacting to it.
  • Let experiences, feelings, and thoughts come in and out of your mind without fixating on any one of them. Don't push thoughts away, but don't cling to them either. Consider them to be waves coming in and out of your mind.
  • Observe your thoughts and feelings, putting them into words: "I feel sad now, thinking about how I was treated." or "I feel angry about what she said to me." .
  • Notice the feelings in your body and the scenery surrounding you and your senses. Describe them to yourself.
  • Tell yourself how you feel, saying, "I feel like a loser" rather than "I am a loser", for instance.
  • Practice changing harmful situations, changing your harmful reactions, and accepting yourself and the situation.
I have to give credit to whoever made this worksheet, but I don't know who that is. But know that this is my paraphrase.

I hope those basic exercises can help you calm down next time you're upset, angry, or emotional.

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