While some people think that depression is simply a “mood” that leaves you feeling down, there is more to it than that. There are a lot of factors that contribute to depression, but once you experience it, it can be very difficult to escape its grasp.
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Depression impacts everything in your life, from the way you think and feel to your ability to cope with everyday activities. If left untreated, it can be debilitating, which is why many people turn to medication for relief.
However, cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that has shown remarkable results in helping people break free from the endless cycle of negativity caused by depression. It has also been found to help prevent relapse, which is higher among people who deal with the problem by using antidepressants.
Here are just some CBT tricks that can be used, without any special training, to help you fight depression.
1. Stop Focusing On The Worst Imagined Outcome
It is impossible to predict what is going to happen in the future, and usually, whatever happens is never as bad as what we anticipate when feeling depressed. What it does accomplish when you only focus on the worst imaginable outcome is to blow everything out of proportion, leaving you feeling even more depressed.
In most cases, you’ll find that the outcomes you are imagining are not only unlikely but completely irrational.
2. Remain In The Present
It is impossible to change what happened in the past, so there is no reason to beat yourself up about it. Constantly dwelling on what you could or couldn’t have done about certain situations will only contribute to your depression.
Instead, try to live your life in the present and accept that what is done is done. This will enable you to get on with your life instead of living in the past and focusing on what you could have done in hindsight.
3. Don’t Live In Denial
While it might be tempting to simply deny the fact that you are depressed and try to get on with your life, this rarely has the desired outcome. Without accepting the presence of depression in your life, it is also easier to fall into a pattern of negativity as you blame yourself for how you feel. It is only by accepting the fact that you are depressed that you will be able to take the necessary steps to get better.
4. Distract Yourself From Rumination
One of the biggest culprits causing depression is rumination, which is the act of obsessively thinking about something that happened. It could have been a fight with someone else or a mistake you made, but if you keep dwelling on it, it will only increase the stress and anxiety of the situation.
To prevent yourself from falling into this trap, try to distract yourself with another activity, such as meditation, whenever you catch yourself ruminating about something negative.
5. Set A Structured Routine For Yourself
One of the first things that goes out of the window when someone is feeling depressed is their routine. Everything from sleeping to eating becomes inconsistent, which can further contribute to the feeling of being depressed.
By establishing or sticking to a regular routine, it is possible to lift your mood and break free from the cycle. Although it might be hard at first, especially if you are feeling depressed due to being unemployed or something similar, it is beneficial to stick to your routine.
6. Don’t Always Assume The Worst Will Happen
If you are feeling depressed it is easy to fall into the trap of believing you know exactly what is going to happen in the future and it is inevitably bad.
This kind of thinking will leave you mentally exhausted and depressed without any basis in reality. Instead of trying to anticipate everything that you think is going to go wrong, focus on the things you have control over in the present.
7. Stop Treating Yourself Too Harshly
Often, when feeling depressed, there is a clear disconnect between the way you feel or even talk about yourself compared to other people.
Sometimes people are very kind to everybody around them, but end up treating themselves much harsher due to depression.
Instead of this double standard it is much better to treat yourself the same way as others. This doesn’t mean that you should be harsher to others, but that it is better to be kind towards yourself.
8. Set Yourself Goals
Having goals is an excellent way to motivate yourself and break free from depression, but it is no use if you choose goals that are unrealistic.
Setting goals that are not realistically obtainable only sets you up for failure, which will lead to further depression. Focus on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time-limited) goals for a more rewarding experience.
9. Reconnect With Other People
Depression is very effective at isolating us from other people and avoiding them, which only makes the situation worse.
In most cases you’ll find that other people will understand and encourage you when you reach out to them. Instead of perpetuating your depression by remaining isolated, reconnect with friends or family and spend time in their company.
10. Avoiding Viewing The World In Extremes
When you are depressed, it is all too easy to fall into a rut of negative outcomes.
It is sadly also a vicious cycle, as the same extremely negative thoughts you are dwelling on will prevent you from breaking free and doing something about them. Instead of viewing everything around you in extremes of “everybody,” “nobody,” and “everything,” try to concentrate on a more balanced approach.
11. Use Evidence To Dispel Negative Thoughts
It is easy to get caught up in negative thoughts when you are depressed, but in many cases you’ll find that there is absolutely no evidence to support them.
Instead of just making your own assumptions or reinforcing negative beliefs, challenge yourself to find the evidence that proves what you are thinking is true.
For example, this means that instead of simply assuming someone thinks the worst of you, ask them about it instead of dwelling on it in your thoughts.
12. Take Part In Activities
One of the effects of depression is that you tend to no longer take pleasure in activities that you might have enjoyed in the past. Instead of no longer taking part in these activities and avoiding them altogether, it is healthier to make a list of everything and then trying to slowly do them again.
You will obviously feel unenthusiastic about these activities at first, but in the long run they can help you to cope better and prevent you from dwelling on the feeling of depression.