If you suffer with mild to moderate depression the chances are you feel in a rut. Your true identity is most likely masked beneath a number of beliefs you hold about yourself and which you now accept as truths. These ‘truths’ are really just smoke and mirrors that serve to distract you from getting better.
Is 2012 going to be more of the same, or are there things you can do to turn it around? I want to encourage you to start planning your resolution now. The difference is, I’ll provide some ideas for the goals to be achieved and you work out how you plan to meet them, and in what order. There are only four goals but by all means pull someone else in to help with the planning.
Movement. In 2012 you’ll need to up your exercise. When moods go down so do activity levels. This makes the brain go sluggish and your emotions respond accordingly. I know that movement is the last thing you want to do when you’re down but your brain is starving Feed it by getting your heart rate up for around 20 minutes a day. The endorphins will flow and you’ll start to feel better.
Activities. Did you used to enjoy doing something? Maybe you were a gardener, a model maker, a baker of cakes, an artist? Get back in the saddle and remind yourself why you got pleasure from those things. If you did nothing in particular start thinking about what you’d like to do. Whether it’s reading that book you’ve always promised yourself, or joining an adult learning class, activities provide a focus, nourish the brain, and make you feel better.
Therapy. Have you seen a therapist or have you simply dismissed the idea? Maybe you’re ambivalent as to the benefits? If you haven’t and your depression has been rumbling on for some time then I think you should. A good therapist can provide you with information about your depression and work with you to provide supportive and useful coping strategies.
Get Social. I know, it’s the last thing on your mind, but indulge me for just a moment. First, I don’t mean rush off to parties. Secondly, becoming more sociable is really the opposite of not living in isolation. You may not think of a visit to the library as a social activity, but it is. You’ll have other people around you, as you would in a cafÃ©, a museum, a market or a shop. Getting social doesn’t mean contriving to make friends, but if that happens naturally along the way, that’s good news. Get out of the door and stimulate your senses in different ways.It all helps.
And there we have it. You might want to start by thinking about each goal in turn and reflecting how much you’ve done in achieving these during 2011. It’s not an exercise in beating yourself up, it’s simply establishing a baseline from which you’ll then plan to improve. And of course, we’d like to hear how you get on, or whether you have your own self-help plans in mind.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.