100+ Practical Tips to Defeat Depression
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director, AllCEUs Counseling Education
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery
~ Define spirituality
~ Discuss how recovery can be a spiritual journey
~ Explore individual and group activities to help teach concepts of spirituality
~ Purposeful action
~ Living in the present
~ Honesty and Authenticity
~ Responsibility and Discipline
What is Spirituality
~ Recovery from depression can be a spiritual journey. It involves getting honest with yourself and others about what you can and cannot change, developing compassion for yourself and others and living mindfully, devoting energy to those things that are important to you. It is a journey that requires you to identify where you want to go, instead of aimlessly wandering through life.
Honesty and Authenticity (Self-Connection)
~ That means acting in harmony with those needs, wants and desires.
~ Activity (Jenga, Hat Draw, Beach Ball) What and Why?
~ What is your favorite (food, movie, color, book, place, song…)
~ What is the most important characteristic in a friend?
~ What is one thing you do well? Don’t do well?
~ What makes you a good person?
~ What is one thing you really need right now to feel your best?
~ What is something you wish your best friend would do for you?
~ What is one thing you are proud of?
~ What is one thing you would like to improve?
~ What is one goal you are striving toward?
~ What is one thing holding you back from achieving your goal?
Honesty and Authenticity (Self-Connection)
~ If I woke up tomorrow and was happy, what PPTs would be the same and what PPTs would be different? Write a list or description of what you want and need. (Get honest with yourself) You can always shred it.
~ By getting it out there you have the ability to look at it and decide which changes are really what you want and worth making, and which changes are just knee-jerk reactions to stress or despair. (Like changing jobs or ending a relationship)
~ Sometimes you will do things for people that you don’t really want to do.
~ You do it, because they are important to you.
~ In those cases, putting your needs aside serves to enhance something more important to you.
~ The challenge becomes balancing your needs with other people’s.
~ Start with the Values Group Activity
~ Write the following values on individual sheets of paper and put them around the room
~ Honest, Loyal, Compassionate, Hard Worker/High Achiever, Humorous, Knowledgeable/Smart, Popular, Powerful/Influential, Respectful, Optimistic, Tidy/Clean
~ Ask each person to stand under the value that is MOST important for them to be known for.
~ Discuss why people chose that one. Who taught them that was important?
~ Ask if anyone has done anything in the past month that went against that value, and if so, how it made him/her feel.
~ Values shape how you view the world, what is important to you and how you define goodness.
~ You cannot live authentically or purposefully without knowing what you value
~ Any of these things can either contribute to a stronger sense of peace and self-worth, or a greater sense of confusion, helplessness, hopelessness and depression.
~ You are encouraged to evaluate:
~ What your values are
~ Where they came from
~ Whether you truly believe them
~ Their impact on your actions and the resulting impact on you and society
~ How you choose which to nurture and which to let go when they conflict.
~ Everything we do has a purpose, so what is purposeful action? (Hint: Actions that get us closer to those things that are important to a rich and meaningful life)
~ Who or what is important to you?
~ Health, Family, Education, Music, Friends, Religion, Sports/Hobbies, Job, Money, Pets, Other???
~ What values are important to you?
~ How do your actions reflect those things?
~ Activities (3 columns)
~ What have you spent your energy on today
~ How many things that you spent your energy on really matter?
~ Ask yourself:
~ “A year from now, will this really matter?”
~ “What is the worst that will happen?”
~ “Is this something that is worth all of the energy I am putting into it?”
~ “What else could I use this energy to do that would help me be happier and healthier?”
~ Activity: My purpose for today
~ Start each day envisioning your goals and rich and meaningful life. Commit to yourself each day to prioritize doing things that will move you toward that goal.
River Rock Exercise
~ Create a mini pond in a large clear mixing bowl or punch bowl. Add water and then put a little gravel in the bottom, sand on top, a little dirt on top of that.
~ Drop a decent sized river rock in.
~ What happens when you throw a stone into a pond? (Ripples)
~ What else? (scares the fish, disturbs the sediment)
~ Draw a diagram of the ripples and disturbance on the white board. Ask: How do your actions act like that rock?
~ The wildlife and sediment disruption are how it impacts others and your environment
~ You are the lake.
River Rock Exercise
~ How would purposeful action impact you? (The lake (Ripples and Rising)
~ How would those changes impact those around you? (The fish, spiders on the water and the sediment)
~ How would those changes impact you?
~ Less stressed/happier/more energetic/more time to spend with significant others
~ Significant others would feel more relaxed and appreciated because I have more time to spend with them and am less grumpy
~ I would feel more supported and connected because I am able to connect with them and they want to connect with me.
Living in the Here-and-Now
~ Worry and regret are extremely draining emotions that can compound your sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
~ Living in the past or the future prevents you from being connected with the now. What are you missing?
~ Living in the here and now helps you appreciate what you have and focus on what you need to do to improve the next moment.
~ How can you handle regrets?
~ How can you handle anxiety and worry?
~ How can you start learning to focus on the here and now?
Living in the Here-and-Now
~ Egg hunt
~ Hide 20 or 30 plastic eggs around the office. Give clients 3 minutes to find as many as they could. (They will be worried about time and other people finding eggs before them) When the 3 minutes is over point out all of the eggs that were missed because people were living in the future wanting the most eggs.
~ Create a Worry and Regret (or GOD) box
~ Spend 10-20 minutes each day writing a description or thinking about what is going on around you.
~ It isn’t magic—or is it?
~ Just like magicians try to keep you focused on something else, other than what is going on right in front of you, if you are focused in the past or the future, you will also miss what is going on right in front of you.
Responsibility and Discipline
~ Responsibility means becoming accountable for yourself and your own happiness without feeling excessively responsible for others.
~ Feeling like you are responsible for how other people feel can be enormously draining, frustrating and, well, depressing.
~ You are the only one who can control how you feel, and what you do with those feelings
~ Gratitude is the recognition of the little miracles that occur every day. When you are depressed, it is easier to focus on all of the things that are not going right. If you adopt an attitude of gratitude, it can help you rebalance your impressions of things
~ How will an attitude of gratitude create a ripple effect?
~ Each time you experience something negative, force yourself to remember at least one thing you are grateful for.
~ Gratitude garden
~ Gratitude journal/box
~ Gratitude mural or mosaic (glass or tile)
~ Annual family gratitude quilt (Hint, use pictures)
~ Connection with earth, nature and everyday life helps you to feel less isolated.
~ You play a significant role in the overall energy in your environment – each person can contribute positive energy or negative energy
~ Activity: Nature walk
~ Go on a walk for 30 minutes. Write down everything that you notice on a piece of paper—sights, smells, sounds, temperature—touch.
~ American culture often encourages you to try to maintain a breakneck pace. Ultimately, this means you may only notice the things that cause you problems, not the sweet, comforting or pleasant things in life. How many of those things do you think you would have normally noticed?
~ How might being more aware of the positive things help you reduce your depression?
~ When you are content, what is the ripple effect on the world around you?
~ How does it impact your mood?
~ Your relationships?
~ Your patience?
~ Your work?
~ Your environment?
~ Discuss how it impacts the group when someone drops out or is struggling
~ How you have influenced me card
~ Optimistic Oscar
~ Spiritual Interventions Help You…
~ Get honest with yourself and others about what you can and cannot change
~ Develop compassion for yourself and others
~ Live mindfully, devoting energy to those things that are important to you.
~ Recognize your connection and impact on everyone and everything around you.