Make Wise Choices to Combat Depression with Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you make wise decisions when you are down or depressed. When experiencing a low mood, a depressing thought, a painful sensation or a stressful situation, practice the three-minute breathing space and choose what to do next, which may be:

  • Mindful action. Go back to doing what you were doing before, but in this wider, more spacious, being mode of mind. Do each action mindfully, perhaps breaking the activity into small, bite-size chunks. The shift may be very small and subtle in your mind, but following the breathing space, you’ll probably feel different.

  • Being mindful of your body. Emotions manifest in your physical body, perhaps in the form of a tightness in your jaw or shoulders. Mindfulness of body invites you to go to the tension and feel the sensations with an open, friendly, warm awareness, as best you can.

    You can breathe into the sensation, or say, ‘Opening, acknowledging, embracing’, as you feel the uncomfortable area. You’re not trying to get rid of the sensations, but discovering how to be okay with them when the sensations are difficult or unpleasant.

  • Being mindful of your thoughts. If thoughts are still predominant following the breathing space, focus your mindful awareness onto what you’re thinking. Try to step back, seeing thoughts as mental events rather than facts. Try writing down the thoughts, which helps to slow them down and offers you the chance to have a clear look at them.

    Bring a sense of curiosity and gentleness to the process if you can. In this way, you’re trying to create a different relationship to your thoughts other than accepting them as 100 per cent reality, no matter what pops up in your head.

  • A pleasant activity. Do something pleasant like reading a novel or listening to your favorite music. Primarily engage your attention on the activity itself. Check in to notice how you’re feeling emotionally and how your body feels, and be mindful of your thoughts from time to time. Try not to do the activity to force any change in mood, but instead do your best to acknowledge whatever you’re experiencing.

  • A mastery activity. Choose to do something that gives you a sense of mastery no matter how small, such as washing the car, going for a swim or baking a cake. Again, give the activity itself your full attention.

    Notice if you’re trying to push your feelings out, going back to habitual doing mode, and instead allow yourself to accept your feelings and sensations as best you can, which is being mode. Bring a genuine sense of curiosity to your experience as you go about your activity

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