What Mindfulness Techniques Help With Depression
By: Sarah Fader
Updated January 25, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn
Depression can be a debilitating condition. It prevents you from doing the things in life that matter to you. You feel exhausted and have a loss of interest in the things that once mattered to you. The negative thoughts in your mind seem never-ending. There’s hope, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Mindfulness helps many different mental health conditions, including depression. You don’t have to suffer from depressive thoughts when you have coping skills. Mindfulness exercises can help you manage your depression and determine how to develop coping skills. You can’t change your mood, but you can enhance your awareness to cope with depressive symptoms. There are simple mindfulness techniques that help people with depression. You can choose the ones that work best for you. Meditation and mindfulness are excellent tools for your mental health. They allow you to focus inward and nurture yourself. Mindfulness practice focuses on creating awareness of your body and mind. You will better be able to tolerate depressive thoughts when you’re practicing these techniques. Take a look at these mindfulness exercises so you can give yourself some relief from depression.
Self compassion meditations for depression
Mindfulness and meditation can help with depression, and that includes using a tool called self compassion. Feeling depressed is difficult and painful. You can validate these feelings while learning mindfulness exercises. There’s a simple five-minute self
compassion mindfulness exercise, you can try. Take a moment and look in the mirror. Say aloud or in your mind, “even though I’m depressed, I love and accept myself as I am.” Mindfulness helps you to accept yourself, which is a form of self compassion. Tell yourself that you understand it’s hard for you right now. You can say it aloud or in your mind. But, try looking into your eyes. Embrace yourself at this moment. Living with depression is draining, and it’s okay to admit that. You’re not feeling sorry for yourself by practicing self compassion. It’s a meditation practice that will help you feel better and improve your mental health. After trying the self compassion meditation, check-in, and see how you feel. Hopefully, after the mindfulness exercise, you’re feeling a little better. Practicing mindfulness in this way will improve your depressive symptoms. You can practice self compassion anywhere. Imagine you’re walking down the street, and depressive thoughts come into your mind. You think things like “nothing matters” or “no one cares about me.” It’s an excellent time to respond to those thoughts with mindfulness exercises. Understand that things are challenging right now, and let yourself know that. You can internally respond to those negative thoughts with a counter-thought. “I am suffering right now, and this is hard.” When you practice self compassion, you will also cultivate mindfulness. As you’re going through your day, and you notice the depressive thoughts in your mind, try integrating mindfulness. Think to yourself, “I acknowledge how hard these thoughts are.” And then keep going with your current task. Self compassion is an essential skill and a form of simple mindfulness that you can integrate into your daily life.
Stop judging your depressive thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness is an excellent way to integrate non-judgemental thinking into your life. We have many thoughts in our minds. Mindfulness based practice tells us that thoughts are neither good nor bad; they simply are. You don’t have to judge yourself for having depressive thoughts. You didn’t choose to have depression. It’s something that happened to you. But you can choose as to how you cope with it. There are mindfulness exercises that will help you. If you notice a stream of depressive thoughts, you can sit quietly and breathe through the depression. It can be painful to have depression, but you didn’t pick this thought. Observe the thought, watch the words of it float by as if they were clouds in the sky. You are separate from it. Throughout the day, you will have all sorts of thoughts. Some will be unpleasant or make you feel down. You don’t have to let those thoughts stagnate you. Try using mindfulness exercises when you have these repetitive ideas. Simply let them be there without judgment. Because when you start judging your thoughts, that’s an added level of pain. Remember that non-judgmental thinking can support you while you’re feeling depressed.
There are moments when your depressed thoughts are so overwhelming that you feel flooded with them. There are mindfulness exercises you can implement so that you’re able to redirect these ideas. When you begin to have repetitive depressed thoughts, such as feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, here’s what you can do: thought redirection. This is one of the mindfulness exercises that target negative thoughts head-on. Let’s say that you’re sitting with a friend meeting for coffee. You begin having thoughts like “I’m a bad friend,” or “my friend hates me.” Here’s one of the simple mindfulness exercises you can try. Redirect the thought and concentrate on what’s in front of you. You can practice mindfulness at this moment. Take a look at your coffee and your friend’s beverage. Notice the different aspects of the drinks. Look at the color of the drinks and how the mugs or cups look. Look at what your friend is wearing and notice what you’re wearing. You’re bringing yourself back to the present. It’s a mindfulness based practice that helps with depressive thoughts. Depression takes you out of the current moment. You’re likely worried about the past, regrets, or concerned about the outcome of the future. Mindfulness can take you out of that depressive funk. The effects of mindfulness on depression are huge. They can help you learn to restructure and reframe negative thoughts. Mindfulness helps you to step out of a depressive state, even if it’s for a moment. It gives your brain a break from the influx of negative ideas in your mind. When you practice mindfulness, you’re not allowing depression to take over your life, and that starts with redirecting your negative thoughts. The depressed mind is stuck ruminating on what’s going wrong. When you practice mindfulness, you can lift yourself out of that depressive mood and use simple exercises to redirect your thoughts. It comes down to body sensory awareness. Wherever you are, when you begin to think a depressive thought, bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice how your body feels in that moment right now. You’re now practicing mindful living. Whether you’re walking down the street or at work, try one of the mindfulness exercises. Feel your feet on the ground, and experience the sensations in your body and come back to the present rather than sticking with your depressing thoughts. Mindfulness exercises will help you climb out of the hole of depression if you give them a chance.
Part of mindful living is engaging in mindfulness exercises in daily life. They don’t have to be long or elaborate techniques. Simple mindfulness exercises can make a big difference in your mental health. One of those mindfulness exercises is mindful walking. Depression can be challenging because it’s difficult to get out of your head. But when you practice mindfulness exercises, it helps to remove you from your thoughts. It’s a much-needed break from the weight of depression. Part of mindfulness based stress reduction is to alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding thoughts. One way to do that is by practicing mindfulness exercises, which include getting outside and taking a walk. It’s time to get out of your funk and into the present moment. Take a walk wherever you are, whether you’re in a busy urban area or strolling down a country road. These are two places (among many) where you can practice mindfulness exercises. Find a place to walk and observe your surroundings. Depressive thoughts will go through your mind, but you can always bring yourself back to the moment. Don’t try to stop thinking, because that’s not possible. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Breathe in and out and keep moving. Look at the houses around you, or notice the colors of the plants you see. All the while, keep breathing in and out and walking. When you practice mindfulness exercises, they can be full-body experiences. Mindful walking is a great sensory awareness exercise and is a welcome distraction from depression. You’re out of your house and away from the claustrophobic environment of your mind. Mindful walking is also a form of physical exercise. When you’re depressed, you need those endorphins that come out when you’re exercising. Taking a walk is a great way to get them. You’re also producing serotonin when you take walks. These are great things for your mind and body. Depression makes it difficult to move. You don’t have to control your thoughts. Depression will be there, but when you practice mindfulness, it takes the strain off of trying to control your thoughts. Remind yourself that all you need to do is take a mindful walk, and you will feel better.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a type of therapy that combines cognitive therapy, meditation, and non-judgmental thinking. You may have heard of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In this type of treatment, individuals learn to reframe their negative thoughts into productive ones. MBCT takes this concept and integrates mindfulness. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an ideal type of mental health treatment for someone who struggles with repetitive negative thought patterns or depressive symptoms. You learn many different mindfulness exercises that can help with anxiety and depression. You’re not just going to therapy to talk about your problems. You’re learning techniques that will help you with depression-based thoughts. When you have an arsenal of mindfulness exercises to choose from, you will be better able to handle your mental health. MBCT is an excellent form of treatment for people with depression. The objective of MBCT is to help patients with chronic depression. Your therapist is also a mindfulness teacher. They’re supporting you in learning to work through depressive symptoms. At the end of MBCT treatment, you will know many different mindfulness exercises that you learned from your therapist and mindfulness teacher. You can select ones that treat your symptoms best. When individuals engage in the treatment, they learn to target automatic thoughts that contribute to depression. If you’re struggling with negative self-talk or ruminating in depressive thoughts, MBCT is an excellent form of treatment for you. You’re practicing mindfulness while learning cognitive reframing.
Three minute breathing
In Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), there’s an exercise called three minute breathing. It’s a short meditation you can use when you practice mindfulness.
Take three minutes to breathe. Wherever you are, stop and focus on your breath. It will ground you and distract you from negative self-talk. This mindfulness exercise is helpful for depression in particular. When you’re feeling depressed, staying motivated can seem impossible. That’s where taking some deep breaths can help. You’re acting as your own mindfulness teacher. You’re now in the present moment and distracted from the weight of depression. You’re engaging in mindful living when you do the three minute breathing exercise. One of the most beneficial effects of mindfulness is that it helps people use their breath to alleviate suffering. That’s a huge advantage when it comes to depression. You can meditate mindfulness into your consciousness with your breath. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with depression, try the three minute breathing technique and see if it helps you feel better.
Mindfulness and online therapy are connected
Mindfulness can help you learn to manage your depressive thoughts. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness exercises or MBCT, you can talk with online therapy. You don’t have to suffer from depression alone. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent tool that can help with many mental health issues, including depression. Online therapy is a place where you can get help for depressive symptoms. The counselors at BetterHelp have treated many people with depression. Search the network of talented online mental health professionals today.
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