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12 Lessons on Facing Depression and Anxiety

12 Lessons on Facing Depression and Anxiety

It’s been twenty five years since my first depressive episode and there have been many dark periods since. Some of these episodes were so bad, the only relief I could get was to think about my own death. It took me a long time to learn these lessons and now that I am finally well I will remember them for the next time .

Maybe you have learned some of these lessons yourself. If not, I hope this is helpful.

1. We should never go it alone.

When we are depressed and anxious we alienate ourselves and abandon our social lives. Not only that, but we often refrain from speaking about our problems with family, friends or even our doctors. It is so important to be open and honest about your illness. This way you can avail yourself of loving help, support and medical care. This makes all the difference when fighting a devastating illness like this.

2. We should only take baby steps.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — and depression and anxiety will not go away overnight. It takes time to get better and the best way to approach this process is with baby steps. Focus on feeling a little bit every day. Sometimes it might be a case of two steps forward and three steps back, but with determination and a positive attitude you can get better over time.

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3. Positive thinking is possible.

I have first hand experience of positive thinking in depression. It can be done and it is effective; I’m certain it prevented me from slipping further into depression and it kept me in a place where I could function. Writing down positive affirmations and statements of gratitude are well documented to lift mood — just because you’re ill doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from this.

4. Look forward to a bright future.

We are never depressed ‘forever’ — it just doesn’t work that way. Every cloud has a silver lining. Of course, when we are depressed we don’t see the silver lining; it has to be pointed out to us. There is no reason for us to believe that there aren’t fantastic experiences and sunny days ahead for us. Keeping that hope alive can save us from severe illness or help us through it.

5. We can make the most of melancholy.

You heard me — it ain’t all bad. We can be at our most creative at certain times in depression; some of my best drawings were done when I was deeply grieving. Many poets, artists and writers produce fine work when they are depressed. Working with music in the background can help to get the creative juices flowing.

6. Be there for others.

When depressed and anxious, we tend to think too much about our own problems. When we let this go and look outside of ourselves we see that others have needs too. It becomes clear to us that we can help other people and not spend all of our time focusing on our own problems. Now we have a sense of purpose and belonging — this helps with our self-esteem.

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There is great value in this principal when you are without direction and living with depression.

7. Re-training our thoughts is invaluable.

Replacing negative thoughts with more positive and rational thoughts is invaluable when dealing with depression and anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy applies this principal and many of us have benefited from putting it into practice.

8. Detach from your illness.

For people with depression and anxiety, frequent negative thoughts and feelings are experienced, but we should bear in mind that they are only thoughts and feelings — symptoms of the illness. They are not who we are. We are the person that is literally carrying around these thoughts and feelings. If we can remember who we were before we became ill we can detach from the feelings and try to ignore the thoughts.

9. Don’t react to your thoughts and feelings.

We have little control over the endless flow of negativity that enters our mind all day when we are ill. In CBT, we learn to stop these thoughts and introduce better one. But we can also be careful not to react to them — thereby reducing anxiety and further negative feelings. This allows us to keep control.

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10. We have endless inner strength.

We have as much inner strength as we need to get us through every given situation; we just have to believe it . When we find our courage, we can do anything we want.

Once, I was so ill I thought I was losing my mind. I dug deep down to my soul and found my inner strength. I made it out of that situation because I believed I was strong enough to do it.

11. We are worthy.

People who are depressed and anxious lose sight of how wonderful they really are. They lose all self-confidence and they feel that they are not worthy. On recovery we all realize that those feelings were just part of the illness and nothing more.

12. This was just our turn to be ill.

Everyone gets ill sometime. We each have our turn. Sparing a thought for those who suffer from terminal illnesses — and even mental illnesses worse than our own — can be humbling and help put things into perspective.

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I would have made great use of these lessons had I been given them when I was a teenager. Life doesn’t always work out the way we plan; in fact, it never does. There are always stumbling blocks along the way.

What’s important is that you learn valuable lessons as you go. These lessons will help you prepare for the future.

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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.

If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.

Let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.

1. Realize the Power of Decision Making

Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.

Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.

But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.

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2. Go with Your Gut

Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.

Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.

Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.

3. Carry Your Decision Out

When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.

What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.

If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.

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4. Tell Others About Your Decisions

There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.

For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.

Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.

5. Learn from Your Past Decisions

Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”

The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.

Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?

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Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.

6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

7. Have Fun Making Decisions

Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.

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Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.

Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?

Final Thoughts

Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

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Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com

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