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Four Tips for Using Depression to Your Advantage
Whether you're going through your first bout of severe depression or it's your tenth time dealing with it, I'm going to be detailing some ways to help you make sense of the experience and even use it to your advantage. What I mean by this is that in Western culture, we're mostly conditioned to think that certain states of mind are "bad" and hold no value to us whatsoever. There are actually some benefits you can derive out of your down-in-the-dumps state.
1. Use this period of depression to examine what really hurts and what's going on in your life that you would like to change. Often times, when things aren't really going how we envisioned, we tend to freeze and feel a sense of paralysis that can the morph into feelings of being trapped or stuck. Is there anything your body is telling you with this wave of depression that you should consider changing in your own life? If it's something you can't immediately change, is there anything you can do to change your mindset about it?
2. When most people become depressed, their thoughts slow down. This is actually perfect for certain activities that require slower, more meticulous thinking. Instead of looking around for an upper that will help your thoughts feel more rapid again to fill you with a sense of "aliveness", use the slower thought process to work on a project like scrapbooking, journaling, organizing your tool shed, etc. And then, if you immerse yourself in activities like this, your brain will start to make the association the next time you're depressed...Like there's at least something to anticipate and DO so you don't necessarily have to wallow.
3. Reflection and processing can be great things to work on while experiencing depression. This is different from my first note, where I try to convince you to do this to re-examine your life. Sometimes, it can be helpful to just process and reflect upon certain life events without a call to action...Just to simply observe, remember, and FEEL what you've been going through. Depression sometimes happens when you feel overwhelmed from your day-to-day life, so a couple days of just sitting back and letting the past few weeks unravel in your mind can be all you need.
4. Depression does humble us and enhance our capabilities of being empathetic to others who are going through a hard time. However, this technically works better if we're able to do this with ourselves first. If we harbor a critical attitude towards ourselves when we are depressed, chances are, we'll do the same to others. Therefore, the experience can teach one a lesson in compassion.
To close, I felt compelled to write this article because of all the other ones out there that make it seem as though there is a hierarchy of emotions, and depression is something to fear and repress. I think it's important for people to regard depression as a human condition rather than a mental illness and try to derive meaning from their experience with it whenever possible.
How do you usually manage your depression?
Disclaimer: In no way am I asking you, the reader, to forgo medical treatment or seeking medical help for your depression. This article may be better suited for those going through mild to moderate severe episodes of depression. If you feel things have gotten beyond your control or you feel like hurting yourself or someone else, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.