Mindful Tips for Dealing with Depression

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

The latest depression statistics show that 300 million people worldwide suffer from this debilitating mental illness, including 16.2 million adults in the United States. An estimated 15 percent of all adults will experience depression at some time in their lives. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and Mindful Methods for Life teacher Julie Potiker, author of “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” shares tips for using mindfulness to cope with depression.

Observe Yourself Without Judgment: When you feel the intensity of a particularly challenging emotion welling up inside of you, see if you can call it out for what it is – i.e., “Oh, that’s anger. Oh, that’s worry.” Allow yourself to observe it with curiosity, not judging it but simply being aware of it. This is the heart of mindfulness. It will take some practice, but once you notice these feelings, you can work with them, giving yourself room to breathe and changing your relationship to them.

Comfort Yourself with Soothing Touch: Put a hand over your heart. Wrap your arms around yourself. Give yourself a gentle touch on the cheek or shoulder or your belly. Wherever touch feels most soothing and comforting to you, give that to yourself. This gentle touch activates your body’s mammalian caregiver response and releases oxytocin and opiates in your brain to counteract cortisol, the stress hormone. Try different spots out on yourself and see what works for you. If you’re in public and feel the need for comfort yet want to be discreet, pick a soothing touch that isn’t as obvious to others, such as softly holding your arms or placing one hand in the other.

Tell Yourself What You Most Need to Hear: What do you wish someone would say to you right now? What words would be most comforting or soothing to hear? Do you need to be told you are loved? Safe? Strong? Capable? Whatever you most need to hear right now, create a phrase and repeat it as a mantra to yourself. You can do this silently in your head or out loud depending on whether you’re in ear shot of others. For example, try:

• I am loved and appreciated.

• I am safe.

• I am valued.

• I am strong and capable.

• I accept myself just as I am.

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