So here are some tips for calming yourself and a few ideas that just might cheer you up.
1. Taking deep slow breaths
If people breathe deeply then at a physiological level they remind their bodies that they are safe and they move themselves out of survival mode. Your ability to think and be appropriately present to the context of your situation will come back to a greater degree if you are not being reactive and behaving from the fight, flight or freeze response.
2. Reality checks
You need to remind yourself that, no matter how terrible your choices are, you have choices and you have power. You just may not like your choices. And you need to remind yourself of all of the messages that will boost your self-esteem around this situation. Gather as much information as you can before you make a decision. If this is difficult for you to do for yourself then it can be helpful for you to have a few people that you can call to get reminders of the positive messages that you need to hear or who are willing to help you think through the choices you have. Ask yourself questions that will support decisions that you will feel good about in the long term not the short term. For example “What choice would I want my child to make if it was him/her deciding this in 30 years?” “Is this a choice that I can stand behind long term?”
3. 5-4-3-2-1 method
Name 5 things you can see, hear or feel in your body. Then name 4 things that you can see, hear or feel in your body. Then 3-2-1 etc. This exercise will help you to focus more on your present surroundings than the upsetting material that was going on in your mind. It will help you to access your frontal lobe so that you are able to think more clearly and it can help to calm yourself.
4. Counting backwards by 3’s, reciting bank information or your Social Insurance number.
When you perform skills that you didn’t have as a child then you are positively triggering the ability to access the executive functioning of your brain. Again, these skills will help you to knit your brain back together so that you have the capacity to think and feel at the same.
5. Put your hand on the part of your body that feels the tension and emotion of your shame and positively affirm yourself.
I am here to tell you that I see it time and time again that people are truly mind, body and spirit. And when people have collapsed into one side of the brain or the other, the tension around this will be experienced in the body. If you can identify the negative or shameful message you are thinking and then give yourself the opposite message then, typically, you will start to calm down and the tension in your body will begin to dissipate to some degree.
6. Tapping, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cranial Sacral Therapy, Osteopathy, Acupuncture and many more ‘alternative body-centered therapies’
A lot of energy and body-centered therapies such as tapping, and EMDR are now regularly practiced by therapists and treatment centers because it accesses the issues that people are having through their bodies instead of through their minds. Clients who incorporate these modalities into their regular routines can learn how to ground themselves in as little as 10 mins if they practice and take it seriously.
7. Meditation and mindfulness practices
Meditation and mindfulness practices teach you to connect with your body and focus your mind on what you chose to focus on, rather than letting the mind run rampant cycling over material that makes you feel powerless, negative and out of control.
8. Concentrating fully on a task in the moment
Whether you are having a conversation, drawing in an adult colouring book, watching a movie or any number of activities, if people are taught to fully concentrate on what they are doing in the moment, it will help them move away from agitating about things that they don’t have the power to control. Focusing on what you have control of (which is yourself) vs what is out of your control (the other person/situation) is key to healing from any traumatic situation.
When people are born, the first stage of development is the stage of being. During this stage you learn to develop connections to yourself and other people and develop your senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. When someone experiences trauma they often get walloped at that first stage of development internally. If you were to use the metaphor of a house, the first stage of development is the cement that keeps the floors and walls that are built on top of it straight. Without having secure connections and being comforted with your senses, all kinds of problems can occur in people’s minds and bodies. No matter how old we get, we function better when we are loved, hugged, fed, soothed, have had a good sleep and have a feeling of belonging in our families, at work and in our community. The next stage of development is crawling and walking. This is where exercise comes in. If you can’t calm the emotional energy that is being stored in your body because things have been triggered for you regarding your connections at a deep level, then often the emotional energy can be dissipated or metabolized through exercise because it is the next stage in the development of our brains. It isn’t until we are 2-3 years of age that we begin to develop thinking skills. So exercise can help people to engage their frontal lobe because sometimes when you are in real distress you are literally unable to access the frontal lobe of your brain to make decisions until some of the emotional energy is dissipated. MRI's have shown that people with PTSD will be unable to access their frontal lobe (executive function of the brain) when triggered re: traumatic events. Also, research is showing that exercise can be as helpful as medication for mild depression and anxiety.
We're half way through the winter. Sometimes what I recommend is going to the Breslau Butterfly Sanctuary to get some warmth, sunshine and beauty. Or Belgian Nursery on Hwy 7! Take it one day at a time and soon enough the flowers will start popping out of the ground and the sun will stay longer in the sky. Namaste.
If you are wanting to create empathy for people with depression or create an image for yourself about how to live with depression, this Youtube video of "The Black Dog" can be really helpful.
And here is someone else's list of 21 Tips to keep you S@#t together when you are dealing with Depression.