Moments of peace and contentment can be few and far between when you’re living with depression, but seeking them out, no matter how small they are, is worth the endeavour
When you’re living with depression, it can often feel like you’ve been swallowed up by a heavy black cloud, and all the light in the world has gone out. You may feel lonely and isolated, and, at times, may start to question your existence.
But, what if I told you that it was possible to find moments of joy, happiness, and connection again even when living with depression?
As a holistic life coach, I am passionate about sharing powerful tools that can allow you to understand yourself better, so that you can tap into moments of deeper joy and connection. Here are three of my favourites:
Emotional check-ins are a process of consciously reflecting on your default emotional states throughout the day. When left unchecked, your mind often operates on autopilot, playing out patterns of thinking and feeling that can keep you feeling low and depressed. Bringing awareness to this can help you begin to understand why you feel the way you feel.
How to do an emotional check-in:
Set an alarm on your phone to go off three times a day. When it does, grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself these questions:
How do I feel right now – physically, mentally, and emotionally – on a scale of 1–10?
Why might I be feeling this way?
Am I reliving the past?
Am I worrying about the future?
What need/want do I have that isn’t being met?
How can I meet this need/want in a loving, healthy, and uplifting way?
Engaging in this exercise can help you to detangle the thought process that has led to you feeling the way you do, and this can be incredibly empowering.
Pattern interrupts are a powerful tool to call on following an emotional check-in, when you want to shift the way you are feeling. There are three different types of pattern interrupts that you can use:
Physical pattern interrupts involve using the body to physically distract or shift the emotional experience that you’re having in your mind. Doing 10 star jumps, dancing to your favourite song, taking 10 deep breaths, or going for a mindful walk, are all ways to physically shift your energy.
Mental/emotional pattern interrupts involve using the senses to create a shift, for example listening to some calming music, diffusing essential oils, or journaling about how you are feeling.
Spiritual pattern interrupts involve calling on a higher power to shift out of how you are feeling. You might say a prayer, visualise angels guiding you in some way, or envision a soft, golden light streaming into your body.
These are just a small suggestive list, but I encourage you to make a note of any other pattern interrupts that feel natural for you.
As you carry out each one, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, ‘Do I feel any different?’ If you feel even a tiny bit lighter, add that into your collection. If you feel nothing, discard that technique and move on. Know that it can often take more than one pattern interrupt to create the emotional shift that you desire. But, remember, you’re not necessarily aiming for pure enlightenment and happiness. Sometimes, just moving up the emotional scale to a place of neutrality can feel deeply satisfying.
This is another quick and powerful technique that you can call on to create an immediate positive shift in the way that you think and feel.
When you change the way you breathe, you send a signal to your brain that shifts the way you feel, and vice versa! This is the power of the mind-body connection.
Espresso breathing, otherwise known as ‘sniff, sniff, sigh’, involves a two-part inhale through the nose. and a one-part exhale through the mouth. The inhales are short and sharp, first breathing into the belly and then up into the chest. The exhale is then a long sigh. Repeat this pattern for about 25–30 breaths. Pause and notice the shift in your energy, and then complete this twice more.
Living with depression is challenging. These powerful tools won’t make everything you’re going through go away, but, with them, you can begin to tune-in to why it is you may be feeling the way you are feeling. And with this newfound awareness, you can learn to understand yourself better, and then start consciously carving out new actions to create new feelings.