You may already be familiar with the term “mindfulness” – the word has become more and more common recently, almost gaining the title of a buzzword. Despite that, very few people understand what it entails, and even fewer people implement mindfulness in their lives.
Mindfulness essentially means being fully present at the moment, both physically and mentally. The idea is to be aware of your feelings and emotions and not let anything overwhelm you. This doesn’t come naturally for some people – that’s where mindfulness techniques come in handy.
In the case of depression, these techniques are even more important. It can be extremely easy to spiral down the rabbit hole of negativity and less than pleasant thoughts when you’re experiencing a depressive episode. At that time, you need to do everything you can to pull yourself out of that depressive cycle. Here is a guide to mindfulness techniques for depression.
Another popular mindfulness technique is known as “the observer”. In this technique, you essentially take on the role of an observer. This role helps you become detached from yourself and view yourself from a third-person perspective. As you sit comfortably and close your eyes, try to visualize yourself sitting. Make a mental image of your posture, form, and body as you sit. Focus on any physical stimuli, and acknowledge each one before moving on. As you move towards your mental stimuli, recognize these as well, and give each idea and sensation their due consideration. One by one, let them all go. The idea is to help you view your situation and condition from an outsider’s perspective, so you can zoom out and focus on the bigger picture.
One of the most common mindfulness techniques for depression is the five senses. As a first step, mentally list five things you can see – the more obscure the thing, the more helpful it will be. Second, list four things you can touch or feel – try to describe the textures to yourself. Next, listen for three sounds – try to listen for the slightest changes. Then, consider two scents you can smell – are they pleasant or not? Lastly, bring your attention to what you can taste. This technique helps ground you, so your mind stays present at the moment rather than wandering off.
You might feel a sensory overload from observing and taking note of so many things at times. In that case, a better idea is to try the 3-minute mindful breathing technique. Breathing is automatic for us, but it’s important to pay attention to it as well. Focus on your thoughts, ideas, and feelings in the first minute. The next minute, divert your attention to your breathing – inhale and exhale as slowly as you can. Lastly, notice how your breathing affects the rest of your body.
These techniques aren’t an overnight cure – it might take a long time to get a hand of them. But once you do, there’s no doubt that it’ll help you deal with depressive episodes much more easily!
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