I want to start off by saying that I am not completely “healed,” and “free” from my Depression and Anxiety. From my experience, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” and these disorders will not go away overnight. They are ones that I have to battle with on a daily basis, more than likely for the rest of my life. It seems daunting, but I believe everyone has different struggles in their lives. Ultimately, these cards are the ones I have been dealt. So what do I do with them? I play the best hand I can and hope for the best outcome. Whether, it be mental disorders, physical diseases, family struggles, or financial struggles; we have all been dealt different hands, and we all learn the best way to cope with and overcome these challenges. No one is exempt from challenge or struggle, and we could do a lot better in recognizing that each person carries their own load. And most of the time, that load is hidden and unknown to us. I constantly remind myself, there will always be someone with a heavier load than mine.
So the second technique I want to focus on is that of gratitude. It seems so basic and simple. Well, quite frankly, it is. However, I have always been taught that a little gratitude goes a long way. I couldn’t emphasize how true that statement is. Gratitude is something that we all know is important, and should make a regular part of our lives, but like most things, that is easier said than done. I am guilty of this. Living in the United States, I have become so immune to all of the amazing amenities we enjoy, and it can be easy to become numb to those fortunes. This always leads to me focusing too much on the negative, and what I don’t have. Channeling my focus on the negative only makes things worse. This, coupled with Depression and Anxiety, leads to some dark times.
As I attended my therapy sessions, a major emphasis was shifting my focus to the positive rather than to the negative. This took some time, but as I did this I noticed a paradigm shift in my life. Things became a little brighter and I began to feel weight lifted off my shoulders here and there. Here are a few things that I did to help switch my focus.
Every night I would write down 10 things that I was grateful for. Those things could have been things that I had in my life such as my wife, house, or physical health. Or, they could have been instances that had happened to me that day. Such as driving safe to and from work, having lunch, or maybe an act of service someone had performed for me that day. These 10 things can be broad or specific, but the key is to not write down the same things every night. I kept a journal of my writings so that I could refer back to previous nights. I found that this helped me to think more and more about the good in my life, and approach each day with a little bit more optimism. In addition, at any point during the day if I began to have dark or negative thoughts, I would stop what I was doing and immediately take a moment to write down three things I was grateful for. This helped to flush out and bury the negative thoughts and mindset.
Although this practice seems simple, it is extremely powerful and effective. Yes, Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and performing this simple task can be difficult. But, I had to push through the struggle and force myself to do it. Let those around you know your intent, and have them help you and follow-up with you to make sure you complete it. I know that as you work with this technique you will begin to see a change, and it will help to shift your mindset.