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Down With Depression

Depression Sucks

When depression descends it‘s not easy to shake yourself out of it and for some just not possible at all, so if that’s you, you might want to stop reading now.

Many people who experience depression say that as part of it, they feel helpless and hopeless and it’s understandable as it can leave you feeling stuck and impotent. Anyone can be hit by depression at any time in life and it’s important  not to judge.

It’s also important to know that it’s not your fault and doubtless you have done and are doing the best you can. It can be very irritating if not downright annoying to have people tell you to snap out of it and I wonder if one of the reasons is that for some, depression is an inward expression of anger. To have well meaning people lay unhelpful platitudes on you, can triggers more frustration and can make the depression even more intense.

My personal experience of depression and that of working with others is that it invariably strikes people who are highly thoughtful, sensitive and usually kind and caring. They ‘feel’ deeply and can struggle with boundaries, because they are used to picking up on the emotions of other’s but aren’t used to protecting themselves from it. Like a sponge they unconsciously mop up negative energy from those around them.

Developing a supportive inner voice can help. Over time I learned to tell myself that ‘this will pass’  and for me it did and thankfully  I did not remain in a permanent state of depression.  Knowing that it would pass I was able to use this knowledge to help myself. I would sit in the same place each time – in my case my wicker meditation chair and remind myself that nothing stays the same and that it would pass. When you’re in the midst of it however you can be forgiven for thinking it wont!

Funny thing is, even some of my closest friends may be surprised to discover that I’ve wrestled with depression and the reason for this is that I’m not a lover of labels, so I’ve chosen to not say that I have had depression. My concern was that it would become ‘my’ depression and I certainly never wanted it to be mine!

Here are a couple of things that have helped me in the past and others I’ve worked with.

Call a friend

Sit with a trusted friend or therapist and investigate the last 3 or 4 episodes of depression with a view to identifying what the triggers were. Aim to recall what happened the day or the night before. What did you eat or do, what time did you go to bed, what were you watching, who did you see, what activity were you participating in before the depression started? Aim to unearth the patterns that lead to the depression and make them more conscious.

When we throw light on something that has previously been unconscious i.e. in the dark, it usually has the effect of de-potenising it, taking away some of it’s power.

Don’t do this on your own, because you obviously don’t want to trigger an episode.

Once armed with a knowledge of the patterns or people that seem to trigger the depression  you can start looking at things to put in place to avoid those triggers. For example if you realize that depression can start when you lay in bed thinking about things for too long, or listening to the news, train yourself to get up within 5 minutes of waking up, or make the decision to turn off the news and choose something more positive to listen to.

You can use stick thinking i.e. “If I lay here any longer I know I’ll end up with that sinking feeling in my stomach that leads to me feeling really stuck and miserable” or carrot thinking… “If I get up now I can get on with… or meet up with so-and-so to walk her dog, or to just make a nice cup of coffee and listen to the birds singing”

Commit to becoming vigilant and aim to catch the depression as it starts, imagine you’re a spy and your brief is to watch and wait to ‘catch’ it before it takes hold so that you can interrupt the pattern it takes.

Make a decision to do something different until you notice a change no matter how subtle. Even a tiny shift can make a huge change to the way you feel.

That shift might be an arrangement that you strike up with a trusted friend to call them the minute you feel the depression starting so that they can come over to support and motivate you to do something different. This is of course by prior agreement.

Whilst we know that exercise is a great way to combat depression, it isn’t always easy or possible for everyone to join a gym however one simple step that you could take is this.

Stand with your feet hip width apart and raise your arms up slowly up into the air as you breathe in. Then slowly breathe out through your mouth like you’re blowing air out with a long sigh as you bring your arms back down. Do this at least 10 times – longer if possible. Do it several times a day on a bad day.

You are lifting your heart and lungs with this simple movement, engaging your cardio-vascular and respiratory systems which change your breath, your mental state and of course your physiology. This can be done sitting down too.

Depression isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be a feeling that emerges somewhere in the body or just outside of it.

Depression has been described by some as a heavy weight, a black hole or a dark cloud hovering over them.  Others say it starts as a sinking feeling in their stomach and some say that it’s like having someone or something sitting on them. No wonder then, that people can feel stuck or disempowered.

It can be helpful to externalize the feelings and one way to do this is by drawing or painting your feelings on paper. No rules, you don’t have to have any artistic skills, nobody else will see this – unless you choose to share it.

When you’ve finished drawing,  bin it, burn it or bury it but get rid of it. By doing so you’re making  a powerful symbolic statement – to your unconscious mind-  that you’re taking action to erase it.

Another powerful thing to do is to write, by hand, letters to people who you feel have a part in your depression whether past, present, dead or alive.  I’ve worked with many people with depression who have been bullied in the past and when they’ve done what I suggest here they have been amazed at the results. You really will feel lighter when you do this.

Write to the bullies, tell them exactly what you think of them.  Let the people who have played a part in the way that you feel, know your truth, tell them exactly how you feel. When you’ve finished the letter  bin it, burn it, or bury it but definitely get rid of it permanently, this is the most important step.   I do not advocate sending the letters – this is for you, it’s your therapy.

Your unconscious mind believes whatever is put into it, so it will believe that  you’ve sent the letters, even though you know at a conscious level you haven’t.

This might sound ridiculously simple but it really can take care of unfinished business in the back of the mind. Don’t take my word for it try it yourself to find out that this powerful exercise really does work!

Anything that you can do to empower yourself will be helpful

So the next time you’re feeling brighter write a list of the things that lift you and allow you to feel glad to be in the world. Put that list on the inside of a cupboard or on a mirror where you can see it to remind yourself to take tiny steps toward a better day.

Although I would never say  I’ll never be depressed again, I do feel fortunate to be free of depression these days. I have used all the tools and tips I write about and whilst I appreciate that they may not be for everyone, I sincerely hope they help someone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Simple Ways To Beat The Blues

January is renown for being the worse month for depression and there are many reasons for it. With the build-up to Christmas and the hype over, the extra lights in these dark months taken down, it feels gloomy and cold.  Some people may have got into debt,  some are dealing with redundancy, whilst others wrestle with existing mental health conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or clinical depression.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to detect that you’re spiralling into a downer, that’s great  awareness and hopefully you already have some strategies that can help to pull you out of depression. Because this time of year can be particularly tough, challenge yourself to do something different to change your state.

I’ve put together three ideas to help shift negative energy.

Depressed

Music

Calm your mind with classical music, even if it’s not your usual genre (e.g. my usual choice is jazz) take a chance, open your mind and listen to a nice classical piece. Ask a friend for a recommendation or visit Classic FM until you find something that  resonates most with you.

Make Music & Change Your State

Apparently baroque is the best music to have playing in the background to help concentrate if you’re studying. So the next time you’re getting ready for work, or doing some mundane chores treat yourself to something calming and different.

On the other hand if you feel really heavy, stuck and lethargic put on something with a strong loud beat, such as We Will Rock You by Queen or the 1812 Overture to help you get moving. Put on your earphones and go for a stomping power walk whilst listening to some heavy rock. Whatever your choice of music make sure it’s one that will positively change your (emotional) state.  Find a song you can sing along out loud to, it’s great for getting your breathing going (we don’t breathe very well when depression kicks in) … think Whitney Houston’s long held notes in I Will Aways Love You. 

Mantra

I downloaded the Gayatri Mantra (Google the meaning) which I found incredibly peaceful. I noticed that after I’d listened to it for a while it, it continued playing in the background of my mind. It gets rid of some of the negative head mush and I’m left with a peaceful mind for quite a while. Traditionally it should be chanted 108 times. I turn to it now whenever I need to de-clutter my mind and it works a treat. My favourite version is by Deva Premal.

Grounding

In our age of abundant technology many of us feel spaced out and insulated from the earth. Walking around in rubber soled trainers and padded foot wear means we miss some of the finer signals from the earth and this can contribute to feeling even more disconnected and separate.

Get Grounded.

Connect to the earth; she’s warm and nurturing! Don’t take my word for it, walk barefoot on some grass and see how long it is before your feet feel the warmth of Gaia. The energy that comes up from the earth through the feet stimulates hundreds of nerves in the legs and brings with it a sense of connection which you may feel as a tingling or pulsing sensation.

When you consider that no matter where we are in the world we are held by gravity to mother earth it seems daft not to spend a little time tuning in to it.

As always, I’m interested in what shakes you out of your depression so share it with me … it could helps someone else.

 

 

 

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Who’s In Charge You Or Your Child?

Do you avoid doing jobs because the thought of it stresses you out? Do you give up on your health regime after that first glass of wine? Are you late for things simply because you didn’t leave on time? Chances are you’re letting your inner child take control of your life…
I know, I know, you start out with really good intentions at the begining of the week. You’re going to eat sensible, healthy foods. And yet by Tuesday you’re on your second take-away.

Have you ever considered that your inner child has taken over and is running the show!

STOP LETTING YOUR CHILD RULE YOUR LIFE

What Happens When You Let Your Inner Child Rule

That inner whining often goes something like this: “it’s not fair, I’m tired, I don’t want to work, I can’t be bothered to go shopping, I need a treat now, I deserve it!” And giving in to it means that you – the adult – are no longer in charge. Let’s face it if you were, you might be able to have a more grown-up conversation with yourself!

Your inner adult might say something like: “I know you feel like you deserve a treat, but if you do eat those crisps or drink that extra glass of wine, your workout at the gym will feel even harder and ultimately the dress you want to look stunning in next weekend will feel tight and uncomfortable. You’re just hungry let’s get something yummy and healthy to eat right now and if you still want crisps after you can have them!”

Continue reading Who’s In Charge You Or Your Child?

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HAPPY MIND & BODY

Movement Now Hypnosis Program

Move Your Body
I sometimes feel that I sit down for too long… but that’s the nature of my work as a Psychotherapist and Life Coach, thankfully I’m able to balance some of that by teaching yoga, walking and swimming. A sedentary lifestyle is not good if you want to stay healthy moreover, it’s ageing too. Scientifically proven as one of the 5 components that make up Wellbeing, exercise and keeping on the move is a must if we want to stay healthier, happier and youthful.

I’m often heard singing the praises of yoga. It really is more than just exercise, it’s a system of health. Other Eastern philosophies such as Chinese Medicine, subscribe to the notion that we have an emotional body. According to these approaches the emotions reside in the organs. You can hear it in language such as “I felt gutted (stomach) or choked” (throat) or “… he had some gall” referring to the gallbladder that is said to process anger, along with it’s partner the liver.

I definitely recognise the existence of an emotional body in my own style of teaching yoga and also when working one-to-one coaching clients. As a client or student of mine you’ll be on the receiving end of my ‘nagging’ or as I like to think of it, encouragement! Prompting you to direct your attention to the tightest or most uncomfortable part of your body and then breathe deeply into it whilst stretching. It facilitates a beautiful release and expansion that often alleviates pain and discomfort. You just feel great afterwards!

I’m often reminded of my favourite saying that the body will express what the mind is concerned with It’s true and I’ve been interested to observe my own body in the last 3 to 4 weeks whilst going through a particularly stressful and emotional time. Although I’m doing the same amount of yoga practice as usual, I’ve really noticed how tight and stiff my muscles and ligaments have become, in fact my body has been aching and tense. I realise that at times like this it’s more important than ever to keep up my yoga practice (it would be so easy to let it slip)! I have found the gentle long held yin poses have been particularly useful in releasing toxic energy (a build up of negative emotions such as fear and anger).

Some years ago my colleague and friend Sabine Smith and I created a lovely CD also available as a download called Movement Now. This is a gentle yoga program that we designed for people who haven’t done any exercise at all for a while, people who want a quick easy stretch program, people who are stuck at their desks all day long and people recovering from illness or surgery. It’s really easy to download to your laptop then pop onto your phone then you can practice anywhere anytime. Click here to buy.

The short program is a real energy boost and you’ll also notice that it creates a nice peaceful state mentally and emotionally.

So if you’re going through one of life’s testing times remember to keep up your practice. If you don’t do yoga then walk, swim or do some exercise and keep the demons at bay!

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Do you disapprove of anyone? What that person might tell you about yourself

Pointing Finger of Judgement

When Louisa was younger she used to love people watching with her sister when they were in the car.

They would take it in turns to pick out a stranger who they would criticise for something, each trying to out-do the other for insults.

But as she grew older, Louisa began to feel uncomfortable indulging in what had once felt like a harmless bit of fun (after all, the strangers couldn’t hear them and Louisa and her sister were just two bored teenagers trying to pass the time). Years later, Louisa would recognise that a lot of her discomfort stemmed not just from the meanness against the innocent stranger, but also because of what it told her about herself and her attitudes.

What our judgements say about us

If you can be unkind about a stranger, how mean are you to yourself? And if you spend all of your time criticising how your friends choose to do things, how harshly do you criticise your own behaviour?

If you know you are a judgemental person, have you ever stopped to consider what the things you choose to judge say about you? When we point the finger of blame or judgment at another, chances are there will be three fingers pointing back at ourselves. We really levy a much heavier burden of judgment upon ourselves when we judge others.

In life we tend to attract mirrors of ourselves, in our partners, friends and colleagues. So if there is something about another person that you like or dislike, love or hate, ask yourself, is this really something I dislike in myself?

In fact, if you can think of the thing that you find most abhorrent and obnoxious, something that you think in a million years you couldn’t do – be very careful, because you almost certainly house some aspect of that yourself deep within your psyche!

So the next time your inner Judge starts pointing, be easy on yourself and curl those fingers into a yoga mudra (gesture). Bring your thumb and index finger together and slowly repeat the words ‘I am peace, you are peace, there is peace’.

See how you get on and let me know!

[Image: PnP]