Tip 6 – Extract from “50 Tips to Beat Depression” available on Amazon
It’s very easy when you are feeling down to lose sight of the positives. One facet of depression is the way the depressed outlook shapes thinking. The depressed person tends to ruminate on the negative things people say, and hears only critical comments. This is called “filtering out” and is a particular type of unhelpful thinking trait that often goes hand in hand with depression. Instead of noticing things in a balanced way, we only notice things that “fit” our negative mind-set and we dismiss the positives. This in turn serves to reinforce low self-esteem and a negative outlook.
One way to turn this around is to create a positive book (see tip 25). Buy a small exercise book, and if you are creative, cover it with a bright paper cover or positive images from magazines. Use this book to jot down positive things that happen, positive things people say and positive things that you have achieved during the day. Slowly you will begin to notice more and more positives as you learn to hear them and not dismiss them from your radar.
Consultant Psychologist Rick Norris, in his excellent book, “The Promised Land,” recommends compiling a list of 20 positive memories. He acknowledges that this can be somewhat overwhelming, as depressed people get out of the habit of playing memories that make them happy, because their mental filter tends to screen these out of their conscious mind. He suggests recalling three positive memories each day for a week. He tells us the benefit of doing this exercise last thing at night is because it can be a pleasant way to drop off to sleep and also that we tend to be more in tune with our sub-conscious mind during sleep, perhaps leading to sweeter dreams!
With best wishes, Steve
Please feel free to email your blog posts for “Your Mental Health Matters” to firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
Write down seven words which sum up honestly how your life feels at the moment, the quality which your life expresses.
Take your time, choosing carefully those words that truly express your life. Cross out, add others until you are satisfied with your list.
For example: Joyful, learning, laughing, understanding, dreaming, inspiring, releasing, deciding, changing, opening, loving, sensual, dramatic, scintillating, creative, expressive, exploring, learning, building, limiting, intense, comfortable, dull, stuck, dreary, routine, aimless, repetitive, chaotic, sad, lonely, resentful, anxious, guilt-ridden, cluttered, exhausting, hopeless, helpless, frustrating, rootless, disastrous, fearful, uneasy, drifting, argumentative, serious, ambitious, succeeding, opening, touching, listening , intimate, spiritual, peaceful, transforming, aware, stimulating, exciting, challenging, blossoming …
Looking at your list, consider whether your life is just as you want it to be. Do you want it to be the same in six months’ time, or different? Or even next week – but do you love it as it is right now?
List 1 – Routine, Lonely, Limited, Rigid, Serious, Trapped, Sad…
Could there be room for improvement?
Make a second list of words in which you transform any words which feel negative, or mildly positive, into what you really want. (The new list might include some of the original words.)
List 2 – Spontaneous, Intimate, Expanding, Flowing, Light-hearted, Carefree, Joyful…
Take time to look carefully at your second list, and repeat the words to yourself several times – out loud if possible. Try to absorb the different “energies” of the words.
How might your life be different if you expressed these seven qualities?
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
Ref: Clifford.S adapted from Edwards, G. (2010) Living Magically; A New Vision of Reality. Piatkus
It should be so simple. Yet fun seems to get pushed to the back of the to-do queue. Shopping, housework, D.I.Y, chores, work, all seem to take over, and this thing called fun gets relegated to the bottom of the pile.
When was the last time you woke up and thought, “what fun things shall I do today?” rather than how can I fit in the shopping, going to the rubbish tip, picking up the kids, etc. The problem with fun is that life and responsibility somehow just gets in the way. I believe the equation is simple: Increase in responsibility = decrease in fun.
In my book, fun is a necessary component to a full life. Many studies show that the feel good factor and release of “happy hormones” lead to a happier outlook, more flexibility and greater resilience. The ability to play, to immerse ourselves in enjoyable activity is vital for our emotional and physical well-being. I would go so far as to say that fun is both “nurturing” and “healing,” Rather like exercise (another vital life component) engaging in fun activities results in an upturn of energy and positivity. Look at children in any school playground and you can see the outpouring of positive energy and joy, as well as the squeals of pleasure. You could say that pure fun is palpable.
However entrenched we are in the responsibility of daily living all of us can bring some “play-time” into our lives. Many, if not the majority reading this will have a smart phone or iPad to hand. Start by downloading a game or two. Begin to seek out space for freedom and fun. Set a specific time perhaps morning and early evening to check your emails, in-between set a specific time for play-time (you did it when you were at school!) There are so many great apps out there that can bring a bit of fun back into our lives.
If you don’t like the idea of starting with a bit of “cyber-play” look for something else you may enjoy. Remember, play is an activity you do for its own sake. Play promotes fun and relaxation – get out the drawing pad and pencils, paint a picture or buy some air drying clay and make a caricature of yourself, exaggerate your features…have fun.
Here are ten tips to help you to inject a bit of fun back into your life:
1. Think back to your childhood, the games and activities you enjoyed then – and now make a list of all the fun things you do now…compare the two.
2. Be prepared to experiment – try out different things. Having fun means so many things to each of us. Mountaineering might appeal to one person, while paint-balling or putting on a dance DVD might appeal to another.
3. Enlist others to have fun with – phone a friend and “Invite them out to play.” After all you did it when you were young! Just don’t ask anyone who might inhibit you.
4. Aim to try something new each month, for example, going to the theatre, seeing a rock band or taking up zumba dancing. How about looking up a ballet class you can attend in your lunch hour?
5. Look to see what classes are on at your local community centre or adult education establishment.
6. Use your imagination – that’s what its for… what have you always fancied doing but never dared take the risk?
7. Smile more – after all, smiling and fun go hand in hand.
8. Katherine Hepburn once said – “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” So many of us have self imposed rules, whether it is wearing matching shoes and trousers or a suit to a business meeting. Maybe, these rules have reached their “sell by” date…time for new rules.
9. Reduce stress – relax more.
10. Finally, be in the moment – find pleasure in everything you do. For example, washing dishes, make the water as bubbly as you can, really feel the sensation of the water, the suds, the dishes. Stop multi-tasking and just be mindful.
Remember the phrase – “All work and no play makes William a dull boy.”
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.
References: “Fight for the right to have fun” Emma Cook “Create more fun in your life” Prof Ben C Fletcher Jan 2012 www.psychologies.co.uk