One of the most common reasons people seek support from mental health coaches is that they are experiencing feelings of depression. While there are methods that can be employed with a coach in session, there are also steps that can be taken on one’s own that help to alleviate the depressed feelings.
We’ve explored some methods in previous articles for teens, prenatal, and even high-functioning depression. In this article, we offer two activities that can shift the energy and emotions around depression. These are excellent exercises to incorporate into your routine even if you aren’t experiencing feelings of depression! Consider them methods to maintain a happy mind!
First, it helps to understand that whatever transpired to bring you down is most likely NOT what is going to help you feel well again. Dwelling on the events that led to a breakup, a lost job or financial hardship are only going to keep your energy low and slow. Focusing your thoughts on other areas of your life — or lending yourself to doing something good for a neighbor or your community — will help raise your energetic vibration, possibly to a level where you are able to revisit your problems from a healthier perspective.
EXERCISE #1 - The Brian Game / Laser Focus
- Pick out an object in your environment and look at it.
- Notice the color, the size, the shape, the texture.
- Study the object for at least two minutes.
- Allow yourself to get lost in it.. let yourself BE the object!
This is a type of meditation. When we meditate, activity in the parietal lobe (that’s the part of the brain that interprets sensory information) slows down. The parietal lobe helps focus your attention by sending some sensory information deeper into the brain while halting other signals.
Longer periods of meditation can reduce the flow of incoming data to a trickle. That is why meditation is so highly effective for cognitive functioning and why we recommend it in this exercise for depression.
This exercise can also be done by focusing on a sound, a smell, or touch. I learned a powerful touch meditation from Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence training where he instructed us to touch the tip of our thumb with the tip of another finger and rub gently enough to feel each ridge of our fingerprint. Try it now and see if you feel your energy shift.
EXERCISE #2 – Arrange for Change
This exercise has many variations. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Choose one or more objects in one of the rooms where you live. It could be a piece of furniture, a picture on the wall, a plant. It should be something substantial that is easily noticed when you’re in the room. Move the object(s) to another place in the room or an entirely different room. If it’s something you don’t especially like, consider this an opportunity to purge or donate it! Every day or so, do the same thing in another room.
- Sleep on the other side of the bed or move the bed to another wall so that your viewpoint is changed. If possible, arrange it so you are looking out a different window or seeing a different work of art as you go to bed and wake up.
- Change what you usually wear. If your hanging-around-the-house wardrobe is a pair of sweatpants and t-shirt, consider putting on a nicer outfit, preferably a colorful one. Even if you say, “But I’m really comfortable spending the day in my pj’s,” I urge you to try making a change just to see how you feel.
- Change your menu, your dinnerware and your dining space. This doesn’t need to be a radical change, unless you’ve been looking for a reason to go vegan. If you like to cook, try recipes from another country. Eat with chopsticks. Sit on the floor or eat standing up.
The objective of this exercise is to get you a little out of your comfort zone. Making changes to your environment, your thoughts and behavior helps to promote new neural pathways and different neural activity. In other words, whatever brain activity that was going on to lead you to feelings of depression can be changed by changing what’s going on around you.
When we engage our minds to DO things differently, and to SEE, HEAR, TASTE, and TOUCH different things, we are priming ourselves to FEEL differently.
The Nickerson Institute's Integrative Health Coaching graduates can offer support for depression, anxiety, mind-body-spirit development and more. Find our coaches here.