When depression sets in, your present mood is the center of your world. The reality of depression however, generally includes not just the melancholy feeling, but many other negative emotions that combine to cause the melancholia. Negative emotions such as stress, anger, fear, or anxiety can build up slowly and become overwhelming. When this happens, your mind becomes filled with turmoil and elicits feelings of frustration, anger, and vulnerability. Once these emotions take hold, they become self-propelling and you get swept away by them.
While you can’t control our emotions directly, such as miraculously making yourself happy, you can manage. In order to do that, you must first control how you behave when these emotions take hold. The key to successfully managing emotions and taking control of your depression is finding ways to navigate the difficult periods.
Examine your Emotions and their Causes Rationally
Think about what is really bothering you the most. Is it life’s little setbacks, fear of the future, the depression itself? These are things that you may feel helpless to control, but while you may not be able to control these conditions, you can control yourself. How you view your situation may influence how you are feeling, but it doesn’t affect you as a whole. For example, when you are depressed, you may have irrational, negative beliefs about that depression.
These feelings can control you if you let them, but rational thinking is the key to taking back the control. If you allow yourself to think that you are powerless over your depression, you will see only information that reinforces this belief. Force your rational mind to see that there are steps that you can take to help yourself and you will prove that just because you feel helpless sometimes, it doesn’t mean that you actually are. Realizing that helplessness is a feeling rather than a fact is the first step toward helping yourself manage your emotions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has been effectively used to treat depression. CBT center around the assumption that a person’ emotions and mood are directly affected by their thought patterns. Negative thought patterns can affect a person’s emotions, behavior, mood, and even their physical well-being. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches the patient, with the help of a therapist, to recognize these negative thought patterns and analyze how they affect their moods.
Once these thought patterns are acknowledged, they can be recognized in their early stages and steps can be taken to replace them with more productive thought patterns. While CBT is generally accomplished with the help of a trained therapist, there are some steps that you can take on your own. It all comes down to recognizing the warning signs of the negative thoughts and consciously altering them before they begin to take over. Like any new behavior, it takes effort to accomplish. In time however, you will recognize these thought patterns in their infancy and instinctively switch gears to more healthy thoughts.
One line of negative thinking generally leads to another. Catching those thoughts before they multiply and begin a downward spiral into depression isn’t easy, but it can be done. When you catch yourself dwelling on something negative, stop those thoughts in their tracks. This can be done in a variety of ways.
Three methods to manage your emotions
- Activity – Physical exercise is a sound way to disrupt negative thoughts. Do a household chore that you’ve been putting off, go to the gym, or simply take a brisk walk when you feel emotionally overwhelmed. Focusing your attention on something besides what is bothering you often clears your head.
- Meditation – This doesn’t have to be in the form of sitting in the lotus position and chanting. The act of meditation can simply be doing nothing except “being.” Don’t try to relax or try to calm down, just stop and reflect on whatever you feel right then. If your mind continues to race, it’s alright, just concentrate on your inner state in a relatively quiet place for a chose time period. As you meditate more, you will notice that it begins to have a calming effect on your life.
- Journaling – Write your thoughts and feelings of the moment in a journal. Not only will you be venting your emotions, seeing your thoughts written down is a good way to analyze them later.
There are more ways to manage your emotions than there are emotions, but finding which one works best for you takes time. It may be a combination of several methods or a different method each time, but taking control of your state of mind is something that can be accomplished. Just one small step each day can set you on the path to a healthier way of thinking.