Do you feel sad or depressed? If so, there are many different things you can do to improve your mood. Perhaps these exercises will help. If not, you may want to seek help from a mental health professional, as therapy has been shown to be effective. These tips come from a workbook by Lawrence E. Shapiro, PhD called Overcoming Depression. I’d like to briefly share some of my favorites. Perhaps they can help you or someone you care about.
Three Positive Events That Occurred in Your Day
Even when you are depressed, good things happen everyday. They may not be major events, but if you look for them, they are there. It may be something simple like your pet is sitting on your lap and snuggling up against you, your favorite TV show is on, or it’s sunny outside. Research by Dr. Seligman (founder of Positive Psychology) shows that focusing on the positive things that happen in your day can improve your mood. Keep track of this daily for a few weeks and see what happens.
Notice Things That Cause You Awe
These are things that you find amazing, something bigger than yourself. Doing this exercise can increase your positive feelings and improve your sense of wellbeing. My guess is that if you look in nature you will find things you awe. Some people find it in music or art, or with special relationships. Maybe you went on a vacation and saw something that evoked this feeling. Write about these experiences and feelings.
Increase Your Pleasurable Activities
Many people who are depressed stop doing the things they used to enjoy. This only leads you to feel more isolation and depression. Make a list of activities you enjoy, or people you enjoy spending time with. You might want to rate how much you think you will enjoy the activity. Lets say you like to see movies with friends. Write down a percentage number of how much you think you will enjoy that activity. Imagine you put 60%. Then do the activity and rate how much you really enjoyed it. Most people realize that they enjoy the activity more than they think they will.
Use the GLAD Technique
Write something you were grateful about today. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe a friend or family member called. Perhaps you are grateful for the relationship you have with your kids, or that the air conditioner is working. It can be anything.
What did you learn today? It could be something about your self, or someone else. Maybe you read about something in the newspaper that piqued your curiosity. Try to find something positive to learn about.
What did you accomplish for today? It doesn’t have to be anything major, just anything you did. Perhaps it was just that your showered and ate. That is something. Maybe your exercised or worked towards a goal.
Did something make you happy today? Did you see something funny on TV or in the paper? Maybe one of your family members or pet did something to make you laugh. Or did you see something beautiful? Perhaps there are flowers in your yard. Perhaps something else occurred that made you smile.
After doing this exercise, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and think about something positive from your day. Your mood should improve.
Focus on Solutions
It is very easy to focus on the problems and negative events/situations in your life. Doing so will only make you feel worse. So instead how about focusing on the solutions or ways that you can work on these problems. Ask yourself if you have tried to work on them, and if you have, did it work a little bit? Can you try again? Wonder what your life would be like if the problem were solved, or a little better. What would be different in your life and how would you feel about it?
Fight Back Against Your Negative Self Talk
Most people with depression have a negative and critical voice. First try to pay attention to that voice and catch yourself doing so. Now imagine that the negative thought is the devil on your shoulder. Perhaps it’s saying, “Things will never get better.” Now if you had an angel on the other shoulder, what would the angel say to fight back against the devil? Perhaps it will say something along the lines of, “Things will improve, and this negative mood will pass. You can do something to make this better. If you try, it can get better. Or maybe you can call a friend or family member to help you.” As your inner angel gets a little louder, you will get better at fighting off the negative thoughts.
I hope you have enjoyed these tips to improve your mood. If you or someone you love is struggling from depression, talking with a therapist can be helpful. It helps to have an objective and nonjudgmental person to talk to. I always say that therapy is a safe place to land your storm. If I can be of assistance, please give me a call at 713-304-6554.