7 Pillars to Overcoming Depression
Posted on 22nd September 2021
Throughout my years of working as a therapist in the field of Anxiety, Depression and Addictions I have come to realise there are 7 key areas that can be used to support someone to address their depression.
I say depression but I believe that these 7 Pillars are also extrememly supportive in addressing Anxiety, Addictions and other mental health difficulties.
Having experienced depression, anxiety and addictions in my life, I to this day, still implement these tools into my life and they support me in my recovery.
If you can make a commitment to practice at least 3 of these techniques on a daily basis, I can assure you you will start to feel better, less stressed, your anxiety or depression will lift and you will be able to live a happier, more productive life.
I am so passionate about getting this message out to people who are struggling, we all deserve happiness and joy in our lives! And there is no reason why you can not have it, if you put the work in.
1. Managing Overwhelm
Overwhelm is such a difficult thing when it happens, in fact it shuts everything down. So, any ability to think clearly, act rationally or behave in a way we would prefer goes out the window and it feels horrible to experience. Overwhelm is a result of too many emotions and negative thoughts going around inside our heads. Also a negative thought, will lead to another, and another and so the cycle continues.
Each negative thought/emotion produces lots of adrenaline and stress hormone (cortisol). At some point you reach a saturation point with these hormones and everything shuts down. Hence the feeling of complete overwhelm.
The way to tackle this is to deal with each negative thought or emotion as they come up. Using tools like mindfulness, letting thoughts and emotions go, using techniques such as imagining putting each thought in a balloon and sending them off into the sky or simply focusing on something else e.g five things you can touch, hear, smell or see to ground yourself.
There are several different techniques including simply breathing though the moment. Breathing reduces the stress hormone being produced in our bodies and calms things down.
2. Positive Thinking
Naturally we all scan for negatives in our lives. The brain does this to protect us. Of course you need to be aware of dangers around so the brain helps us with that and almost has a fine tuned radar for negatives and dangers. The problem is in today's society the brain gets overstimulated, so we can end up feeling like we are scanning for negatives all the time. This can lead to anxiety and depression. The more we scan for negatives, the more we scan for negatives if you understand my meaning? The brain develops it's centre of negative thinking and the centre for positive thinking reduces. Consequently we find ourselves in what feels like a dark cloud of negative thinking all the time.
The cure for this is to start being positive intentionally, we have to work at this. This can be done though using affirmations regularly or gratitude lists. The more we do these things the more we flex and increase the part of our brain wired for positivity. Hence after a while it can become a more natural way of thinking.
There are two types of mindset. A fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
A fixed mindset: is when we believe that we were only born with a set of abilities and that we can not learn new skills, we tend to avoid challenges and give up easily, see effort as fruitless and feel threatened by others.
A growth mindset we are able to have the attitude that with effort we can grow, develop and learn. We take failure less personally and we have more flexibility when things go wrong. We embrace challenges and find inspiration in others' successes as well as learning from criticism from others.
What is your mindset in most situations? It may be different with different things but having a positive mindset helps you to feel more relaxed and capable instead of stuck, defeated and hopeless.
The connection between the mind and body is powerful. I work with yoga teachers to help my clients build a positive relationship with their bodies and also to understand how anxiety and depression sticks in parts of the body.
I started practicing yoga in 2017 regularly and still do today. One of the main benefits for me is feeling balanced in my emotions. It has helped with mood swings and the breathing exercises help me feel calm and focused.
I practice yoga with JJ Van Zon. You can find his UTube channel here.
The benefits of Mindfulness are so extensive.
Mindfulness is about 'letting go' and being in the moment. Everything in the moment is ok. We spend so much time worrying about the past (causing depression) and worrying about the future (causing anxiety).
Mindfulness is a technique that can be used to support you to focus, have better concentration, reduce stress, have better relationships, be gentler on ourselves (more on that later) and just notice things in life that perhaps we take for granted.
If you would like to learn mindfulness I have a brilliant course available for just £50. You can access the details here.
6. Self Compassion
We are always so harsh to ourselves. Would you talk to your best friend the same way we talk to yourself?
Self compassion was an idea that has been created by a lady called Kristen Neff. I am so on board with her approach. In fact, being harsh on myself was one of my biggest problems and, for me, led to depression and addictions to cover up how I felt about myself.
Self criticism is so damaging. Imagine if someone was criticising you every day at work and how you would feel. Well with self criticism you are probably doing that to yourself every day. It will make you stressed, anxious and generally negative and we have already talked about what negativity does to the brain.
So try to remember, you are part of an imperfect society. Everyone else makes mistakes and does things wrong. Also start to notice when you are being self critical, catch yourself at it and be kinder. Do some nice things for yourself too. You do deserve it.
Do you know what your values are in life?
Living in alignment with our values is so important. We each have our own value system and those values are probably different to other people's - it is one of the things that makes us unique. We can easily get side tracked from our values when we try to please others all the time. We can also be sidetracked if we are following some family traditions or guidlines we were brought up with. Even expectations of society can divert us away from our values. If you are not living in alignment with your values it will give you a sense of discontent, or even depression.
Be aware though that also when we have strong values we can feel confused when others do not follow the same values as us or we can have such a strong demand that our values be met that we can give ourselves anxiety.
Learning to recognise your values but to live within them with flexiblilty it the best route to postive mental health.
If you would like to hear more about the 7 Pillars to Overcoming Depression in my series of short video please follow the link below to sign up for 7 Pillars Videos.
On our 3 day retreats we go into detail of each of the 7 Pillars, providing you with the experience and training in each of the Pillars, leaving you with a template of recovery, accountability to keep you moving forward with a new freedom from your anxiety and depression.
To find out more click on this link: 3 day Anxiety and Depression Retreats
Sending healing wishes ...
Tagged as: Anxiety, Depression
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