Have you ever experienced a down turn in your level of happiness and fulfillment? Did you find yourself questioning the point of it all? Have you been flirting with the idea that you may have come down with depression?
I can certainly say that I battled this for years. Failing to acknowledge that I was depressed, and looking for ways to compensate like food, alcohol, mindless entertainment. It wasn't until I began connecting to and forming a relationship with myself that I began to reverse the trend of depressive states that would plague me every few months. If I'm being honest there were times when it lasted for multiple years.
To be clear, this is not medical advice. If you have a clinical issue, see a licensed therapist. I am merely sharing my experience and what I have learned in my own journey of discovery.
Here are a few bullet points on the things that helped bail me out. For the record, it has been at least 5 years since I have experienced any depression symptoms, so this stuff, at least for me, has been extremely effective and sustainable.
First off, what exactly is depression?
Depression is a complex mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It can cause a range of symptoms, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, and even physical symptoms like fatigue and changes in appetite. While there are various factors that can contribute to depression, including genetics and life experiences, managing emotions effectively is an essential part of preventing and treating depression.
One expert who has done extensive work on the relationship between emotions and depression is Gabor Mate, a renowned physician and author. According to Mate, emotional regulation is a critical aspect of managing depression. More succinctly, he has been quoted as stating that the key to healing depression is in connecting to ourselves, and expressing our emotions in a healthy way.
In this blog, we'll explore some of his insights on how to effectively manage emotions to stave off depression.
Recognize and acknowledge your emotions One of the first steps in managing emotions is to recognize and acknowledge them. Many people try to push their emotions aside or suppress them, which can actually make them worse. Instead, it's important to allow yourself to feel what you're feeling, whether it's sadness, anger, frustration, or anxiety. Mate suggests that emotions are a normal part of being human, and we shouldn't judge ourselves for having them. Anytime we resist, or actively suppressing ourselves, we are actively creating a disease environment, along with chaos and confusion...this leads us to feeling disintegrated.
Understand the root cause of your emotions Once you've acknowledged your emotions, the next step is to understand the root cause. This can involve some introspection and self-reflection to find what needs are currently missing and being compensated for. For example, if you're feeling anxious, you might try to identify what's triggering your anxiety. Is it a particular situation, person, or thought pattern? Hint: Look at what emotions you are unwilling to feel. By understanding the root cause, you can start to address it and find ways to manage your emotions effectively.
Practice self-compassion Self-compassion is a key component of managing emotions and preventing depression. It involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and patience, rather than being critical or judgmental. Mate emphasizes that many people who struggle with depression have a tendency to be hard on themselves, which can make their symptoms worse. By practicing self-compassion, you can cultivate a more positive and supportive inner dialogue, which can help you manage your emotions more effectively. The next time you are tempted to be overly critical of yourself, ask yourself this.....who's bar am I measuring myself against, and why do I give that voice so much power over me? Find a way to effectively communicate what you're feeling to that inner voice. You can express this in art, journaling, or in a video blog.
Use mindfulness techniques Mindfulness is a practice that involves being fully present in the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can be a powerful tool for managing emotions and preventing depression. Mate suggests that mindfulness can help you become more aware of your emotional patterns and triggers, so you can respond to them in a more conscious and intentional way. Mindfulness techniques can include meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking a few moments to focus on your surroundings and tune out distractions. The whole purpose of mindfulness in this example is to be present with the feelings that are surfacing and allow them to express within you. Avoid the temptation to push them away or ignore them.
Finally, it's important to seek support from others when you're struggling with your emotions. Mate notes that social isolation and disconnection can be significant risk factors for depression, so it's essential to cultivate a supportive network of friends, family, or professionals who can offer guidance, encouragement, and empathy. This might involve reaching out to a therapist or counselor, joining a support group, or simply spending time with loved ones who understand and care about you. Connection is a basic human need....if you've been averse to connection, trust, or vulnerability, this is the perfect time to revisit that perspective. You cannot live without air, and you cannot thrive without connection.
In conclusion, managing emotions effectively is a crucial aspect of preventing and treating depression. By recognizing and acknowledging your emotions, understanding their root causes, practicing self-compassion, using mindfulness techniques, and seeking support from others, you can develop the tools and resources you need to manage your emotions more effectively and stave off depression. By following the insights and strategies of experts like Gabor Mate, you can take an active role in your emotional health and wellbeing.
If you'd like further guidance on how you can manage your emotions effectively, book a call with me today. You can join our waitlist before our enrollment investment price goes up.
Peace, Much Love, Live Well!