If you experience low moods and mild forms of depression you will also be aware that certain things can lift these moods albeit on a short-term basis. This says something about the importance of self-management techniques that can target your depression. These mood lifts come about as a result of issues that affect your emotions, thoughts or your physical state, in other words the very same things affected by depression.
The Happiness Goal
It’s important to set realistic goals that will enable mood lifts to last longer, be more durable and reliable if your self-management strategy is to succeed. For example, I think an unrealistic goal might be to become happy.Happiness is an impermanent state. It is certainly something our changes may result in but it’s important to understand that happiness is better thought of as contentment. Within this context we may be more likely to experience peak moments of laughter, bliss or even ecstasy, but these moments will pass.
Aim For Sustainability
Moving towards something sustainable requires change. Your current mood state is working against you in that sense because even mild depression has a way of constricting the possibilities. Rather like looking through binoculars the wrong way, the view seems distant, small and somehow unapproachable. It’s far easier to stick with what you know but the problem with this is you’ll only get more of the same.
In a previous post I wrote about the influence of mindset on personal progress. I also opened up the idea of apositive approach to therapy, which does more than simply pull people back to a state of neutral. Depression is closely associated with a fixed form of mindset which reflects back to you a set of firmly held beliefs about who you are, your limitations and your talents. Because of this you believe your mindset is balanced - pros and cons, but it’s really constraining your thinking. If things go wrong you see it as proof of inadequacy. Self-managing depression requires you to believe something different. You need to adopt a position of growth potential and development that is limitless in scope - and this what I’ll be taking forward in subsequent posts.
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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.