Depressed About Something You Can’t Control? 5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You Cope

Every single one of us feels down at times. In addition, we all experience those times where the cause of our depression is out of our control. People at the risk of having some depression are dealing with many negative feelings, thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs about themselves. There is new research that suggests that practicing mindfulness may help to reduce or even prevent symptoms of depression. Mindfulness? It’s something we hear about from others. We see click bait articles about it on our news feeds. Lots of people talk about mindfulness but how many know how to implement it in their daily rounds. If you could learn how to use this useful coping tool and shift your focus, even for just a few minutes, when feelings of sadness or depressive thoughts enter our minds, you would experience the benefits of a mindfulness practice.

What is mindfulness?

In its simplest definition, mindfulness is about paying attention to your experience, in the present moment, by observing thoughts and emotions without judging or getting caught up in the experiencing of them. Learning to appreciate the here-and-now by focusing your breath affords you the opportunity to take a short mental break from the overworking of your mind. Among many other factors, mindfulness involves:

•    Focusing your attention on the present moment

•    Calmly noticing and then accepting your feelings and thoughts

•    Cultivating awareness and acceptance

•    Realizing that your thoughts may not be the most accurate reflection of reality

Mindfulness can be practiced in everyday activities. Mindfulness can be practiced when you are stuck on a ruminating thought or negative feeling. When you shift to the present moment, your mind is not able to tell you stories and distort your reality. When you are in the present, the causes of depression have less room to flourish.

5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You Cope With Depression

1. Less focus on the past

Dwelling on and regretting things from your past is a primary source of emotional distress.  You do not have control over your past but do have control over how you continue to process it in your mind. You can shift your focus to the present and to what you have learned as a result of the past experiences.  How did you grow? What wouldn’t you allow to happen again?  When you think about how’d you do it differently, that is your personal growth in the now.

2. Less fear of the future

Another source of depression is your fear of the future, which creates an anticipation that something bad can happen. I won’t get what I want or need. I might lose something or someone important. Fears are often magnified in depression. So, once again, you can choose relief in the present moment. You can prepare for, but can never control the future. Mindfulness teaches you to stop fearing the future by not overly ruminating on it. Ruminating is different from planning for the future.

3. Awareness of triggers

The present moment is where you can stop, seek, and then understand what and how you feel. You can also use your mindfulness practice to recognize what brings on feelings of depression. When you know your triggers for over thinking or over feeling negative emotions, you are in better position to combat their destructive path before they get worse and lessen their impact.

4. Learning to make self-loving choices

When you’re better aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can act in your own best interest. Living in the past will leave you no room to explore self-care. Anxiously anticipating the future obscures the self-loving paths that are available in the now. Embracing the present will give you a mental break and new eyes. You may find that you can see what was once invisible. This mindful vision guides you to choose self-compassion and loving self-care when making choices for your life.

5. Staying present with others

Thanks to mindfulness, your relationships can evolve more positively. When depression feels as if dragging you down, it’s virtually impossible to connect with your partner or other important people in your life. The partner relationship that once excited you no longer has the same appeal. People you once craved seeing are now people you try to avoid because you are feeling too low. Mindfulness is a present-centered awareness, which affords you the opportunity to self-regulate your over thinking patterns and negative emotions that can leave you feeling alone and exhausted.

Mindfulness: Where and How Can You Start?

Mindfulness is one of those concepts that sound good in the abstract. After all, how do you even get started? How do you know when and if you’re actually being mindful? The first step is to recognize mindfulness as a coping skill. Like any skill, it requires awareness, effort, and continued practice to give you the greatest benefit. It may be helpful to get some guidance. Working one-on-one with a therapist is where you can learn to practice mindfulness and thrive. You’ll also regain a sense of control. The skills you develop will carry over in all facets of your life.

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