Breaking the Cycle of Depression
How do you break the “vicious cycle” of depression?
The answer is activation!
There is a substantial amount of research that helps us understand that depression keeps people from doing the things that they enjoy. Doing things that we enjoy brings meaning to our lives. Not engaging in these positive activities (such as hobbies, socializing, physical activities, or other things that you enjoy) can make you feel worse, and increase symptoms of depression.
This is known as the “vicious cycles of depression”. Based on the fact that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all influenced and impacted by each other.
The “vicious cycles of depression” may look and feel different for different individuals, but the answer is the same. To break the cycle, you need to activate your body!
Research has shown that the decision to activate (i.e., do the opposite of what the depression wants you to do, and do something in line with your values and goals) changes the brain state and can make us feel better, right away.
For example, exercising can produce chemicals that help lift moods.
Additionally, the more that you activate, the more situations you are in to have a positive experience! Hence, feel good!
It can be hard to find the motivation to activate yourself when you are feeling depressed. But, there are ways to overcome those obstacles. Below is a list of some helpful motivational strategies that can help you get started on your way to feeling less depressed.
When you decide to engage in an activity (i.e., activation):
· Keep it simple!
· Do one thing at a time.
· Set realistic goals.
· Schedule activities at times when you are most likely to succeed.
· Use self-compassion.
· Change your environment.
· Minimize distractions.
· Use visual reminders.
· Talk yourself into it—challenge negative thinking!
· Use a timer—start with just five minutes.
· Use reminders/alarms!
· Focus on long-term benefits
Written by Kaitlyn Harrison, M.S.