Your mind can be your own worst enemy when you are dealing with depression symptoms. The emotional overwhelm is bad enough. Then, depressing thoughts exacerbate the situation.
In fact, you can get stuck in an emotional whirlpool by going over and over those thoughts in your mind.
Ruminating on depressing thoughts doesn’t help anyone. The mind is tricky, so sometimes you actually think it will help.
For example, you may believe that you can solve the problem if you just keep thinking about it. On the other hand, you may want to stop the thoughts but just don’t know how.
Learning how to manage depressing thoughts is a good first step toward improving your mental state. Here are six practical tips that can help.
1. Write Down Depressing Thoughts
Sometimes it helps if you just get the thoughts out of your head. Getting them down on paper is one terrific way to do that. Journaling provides a place for writing down each thought so that it isn’t just circling around in your mind.
More importantly, if you make journaling a daily practice, then you might notice yourself making room for thoughts that aren’t just the depressing ones. In other words, a regular journal practice can help you explore an entire range of emotions, rather than remaining stuck in what’s negative and stemming from depression symptoms.
One good tip is to end each journal entry with something you appreciate. This helps shift your mind to a more positive place and away from the depression that usually takes up space in your mind.
2. Make Peace with Depressing Thoughts
Depressing thoughts become worse when we try too hard to fight them. It’s possible to accept that the thoughts are there without letting them control you. One way to do this is to get curious about how the thoughts might serve you.
For example, imagine your depressing thoughts are about how you are such a burden to others. Notice the thought, but don’t latch onto it. Don’t allow yourself to keep thinking about all of the ways the thought is true.
Instead, ask yourself, “how does it help me to think I’m a burden to others?” One answer might be that it fosters your independence.
The thoughts aren’t right or wrong. They’re just thoughts. Don’t allow them to have power over you. Try to see the good and bad sides of all thoughts, even if they’re related to your depression symptoms.
3. Interrupt Depressing Thoughts with Activity
When you try to focus on the depressing thoughts and that doesn’t help, it’s time to distract yourself from them. More specifically, you need to interrupt them.
You can do this best by engaging in a physical or mental activity. You need to choose something that requires your focus. Television, video games, and social media don’t usually provide enough of a focus to interrupt the thoughts.
On the other hand, going for a jog, working on a crossword puzzle, or playing an instrument can help break the rumination. Aim for activity and creativity when choosing actions to replace distressing thoughts.
4. Remember That Feelings Aren’t Facts
Although thoughts are neither right nor wrong, they do have different levels of truth to them.
Your depressive thoughts are often driven by your feelings. Feelings are very real, but they aren’t factual. In other words, just because something feels true doesn’t mean it’s the reality.
Learning how to do reality-testing is a key trick to managing depressing thoughts.
For example, you might feel like the whole world is against you. This can lead to a range of self-berating thoughts. However, if you test that against reality, you’ll likely come up with a quick list of people who aren’t against you at all. Use the reality to calm your thoughts, ease your mind and release some of those depressed feelings.
5. Practice Thinking in Specifics and the Gray Area
Many depressing thoughts are over-generalized. In other words, you find yourself using words like “always” and “never.” However, reality isn’t so general. When you notice yourself thinking in general terms, try to focus in on the specific situation.
Likewise, troubling thoughts coming from depression symptoms are usually black and white. Yet, reality is gray. Practice finding the nuances and subtleties in each situation. The more you can see the bigger picture, the less distressing your thoughts will be.
6. Ask for Help
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can handle everything alone. That’s precisely the kind of thing that keeps you stuck in your own mind with those depressing thoughts and feelings.
Instead, learn to ask for help. Figure out who you can turn to in times of distress. Then reach out. Let those people know when you’re having depressing thoughts, and most importantly, let them know how they can help.
Depression Counseling Columbus, Ohio
Although these tips can help, you may benefit from additional support through depression counseling. If you decide they’re in need of a high quality counseling practice in the Columbus, OH area, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled mental health therapists are trained to provide depression treatment and can help you learn how to manage your depressing thoughts and learn how to be you again.