Your habits and depression. What is the link?

Last week, I posted about your beliefs and your depression and the importance of knowing what you believe. Today we will be looking at our habits.

Our habits make us or break us, in all areas of our lives.

If we don’t examine why we do what we do, we will continue to engage in habits and behaviors that will be unhelpful in managing our moods.

Examine your habits. Are they taking your depression down a notch or are they making it worse? We do so many things on auto-pilot, never questioning why we do what we do.

I have a really good habit of making the bed every morning. I didn’t always. But I realized that making the bed was a really good habit for me. It kept me from going back to bed and hiding all day. I even got in the habit of shutting the door as a kind of final blow.

I have been doing that for many years now. It helps my mood greatly. I want to add here though that there might be a rare occasion where you might need to do this. And by rare, I mean maybe once or twice a year.

I have a book at the cabin written by a woman who had gone through depression and, like me, had written down her journey to wholeness to help others. She states that for her staying in bed for days was how she managed a bad episode. The book is about twenty years old and before a lot of newer research that debunks this idea.

But I don’t want to be a “one-size-fits-all” kind of a person so I would just say, for the large majority of people, this is not a good idea. But for those for whom it is, you need to do what works for you.

It works to ask ourselves, “What kind of habits do happy people engage in”? Imagine what habits happy people practice and then practice them yourself. It builds some positive momentum and we begin to feel more contented and fulfilled.

Our habits are often a reflection of how we see ourselves.

Rebecca Platt

For example, would you reach for that decadent brownie if you envisioned yourself as slim and in great health? Would you park yourself in front of the TV for hours at a time if you saw yourself as a productive person with creative abilities?

Aristotle said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

When we start to develop habits that encourage health and happiness, we feel better and depression wanes. Decide you want to be a person free of depression and develop daily habits with that person in mind.

There is actually a technique that many mental health professional suggest to their patients. It’s called “acting as if” and is very applicable to the treatment of depression.

In other words, act like a person who is not depressed.

Develop some habits that you would imagine happy people engage in. Walk a little more energetically with your head held up. Imagine yourself the way you’d like to be.

It’s not disingenuous. It’s not meant to fool anyone. It’s just a therapeutic tool for you to use.

It really does work.

The Apostle Paul did the exact same thing. He says so himself. I Corinthians 9:19-23 in the New Testament.

I just talked to someone yesterday who, just before her menstrual cycle, suffers from severe anxiety. She obsessives over her health. Every mark on her body is cancerous.

You know what I told her? I told her she needs to have an activity that she can lose herself in. Believe it or not I suggested “doodling”.

Yep. You see happy people engage in things they really enjoy. They make it a habit. Doodling is one of those things that can really help. There’s a lot of research behind this kind of art therapy, especially circles, like mandelas.

I’ve suggested this book before, but I will suggest it again. It’s called “Atomic Habits”.and while not addressing depression exactly, it does in a roundabout way.

Examine your habits. Are they helping or hurting your recovery from depression?

God bless and have a good day.

The post, “Your habits and depression. What is the link?” appeared first on thegiftofdepression.

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