Depression and Getting Into the Present Moment
As I continue to recover from a recent depressive episode, I’ve noticed that I’m better able to deal with my inner critic, as well as be more in the present moment. For example, recently, I found myself unsure how to proceed with a project at work. If I had been feeling more depressed, my inner critic would have taken this as an opportunity to try to push me down further. I was able to fight this by being in the present moment.
My inner critic would have beset me with self-loathing thoughts like: “What are you doing? You don’t know what you’re doing. All is lost.” Instead, I was able to do something like this:
- Acknowledge the uncomfortable feeling (I’m not sure how to proceed).
- Determine if there was more I could do at that time to improve the situation (work on what I could at the time).
- Accept that there are times where I don’t have all the answers and that’s okay (be with my feelings in a more accepting way).
Being In The Present Moment With Uncomfortable Thoughts
Being able to acknowledge and be with my discomfort – realizing that I don’t have to know all the answers up front – was huge for me. I was able to go about the rest of my day more calmly and to allow myself to figure out the situation more organically instead of forcing a solution.
Without the dark cloud of depression pressing down on me, I am able to exist more in the present, or in the moment, as Zen writers like Eckhart Tolle discuss. I have found that depression tends to keep me out of the present moment. It presses me to hyper-focus on either the past with regret, or the future with anxiety. There is little-to-no room for being with my experience right now, just as it is. But it is exactly this being with our experience, moment to moment, that can be helpful to us whether depressed or not.
Tapping Into The Present Moment
Of course, in a busy world, it can be easy to forget about the present moment. How can we better tap into it and potentially ease the grip of depressive symptoms, or at least give ourselves a chance to regroup?
- Breathing techniques -- There are many breathing techniques out there, from simply counting the breaths to more complex techniques. However, all of them bring us out of our heads and more in touch with something that is always with us in life -- the breath. My suggestion when starting with a new technique, whether breath or otherwise, is to not be afraid to start small. Sometimes I just set a timer for a few minutes and take time to be more aware of my breath and I'm always glad I did.
- Tune into the senses – There's a lot to choose from here: smells, sights, how your chair feels as you’re sitting, or how your legs feel as you’re standing, etc. If you’re eating something, slow down and experience the smells, tastes, and textures of the food.
These and other mindfulness techniques help us to slow down and experience the present moment and all it has to offer. They can help ease our depressive symptoms or at least give us a chance to refresh and keep going.
Tazzi, J. (2014, October 15). Depression and Getting Into the Present Moment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2014/10/depression-and-getting-into-the-present-moment