You wouldn’t think the subject of habits would have much to do with improving your depression. But it does.
It makes a big difference especially if you believe what Aristotle said:
“We are what we repeatedly (habitually) do.”
If you can buy into that, it will make a big difference in your depression.
Our habits are who we are. For example, if you stay up late evey night, that’s a habit.
If you eat fast food every day, that’s a habit.
If you smoke, that’s a habit.
Drink too much, a habit.
Our lives are pretty much ordered by our habits. We evaluate ourselves by our habits. People know us by our habits.
Remember this: whether we want to admit it or not, habits are choices we make. After a while, those choices become habits and finally a lifestyle. We forget they started off as a behavior we repeated the second time and kept on repeating.
An example from my own life.
I used to let morning news shows rule my most valuable time of the day.. When the end of the day rolled around I wondered, “Where has my day gone?”
Have you ever been there?
Or another example. I used to reach for something sweet every time I was upset. It started off as a choice, became a habit, and finally a lifestyle.
I have completely changed those habits among dozens more over the years. But in order to change those habits I had to recognize they were in deed, first of all, choices.
Be prepared to do a lot of self-monitoring for a few days. Ask yourself often, “Why am I doing this?
Does it makes sense?
Does it enrich my life, hurt my life, or is it neutral?
Is it something I want or need to change?
Is what I’m doing getting to me to where I really want to be?
Do this with your actions first. They are easier to catch “in the act”. You will be amazed at how many things you do without even asking why you do them.
Keep a notepad handy to jot down some thoughts. Once you have identified that particular behavior that has become a habit and it isn’t benefiting you in some way, think about ways to change it.
You could do this one day, a few days, a week. You might find a number of habits that really aren’t working for you anymore but don’t tackle them all at once. Pick just one.
It has been suggested by many that it takes three weeks to change a habit. I think this could vary from person to person depending on the habit.
Work on that habit. I have two very favorite books I recommend. One is Atomic Habits by James Clear.
The other is The Power of Habit by
The first book gives some really good strategies. The second one is more about the theory of habits.
Here’s the important point. When we are depressed, we fail to recognize that our mood might well be determined by what we do every day, our routines. They are either helpful or hurtful although sometimes habits are just neutral.
Also, if we can change some habits and look at them as such, rather than focusing on our depression, we will find that changing habits might well improve our depression and anxiety.
Changing a habit when we’re depressed won’t be easy, but can you see how this is a back-door approach?
Remember, we are what we repeatedly (habitually) do.
Make it a point to to know what your habits are. Make it habit to evaluate them.
God bless and have a great day.