How to Be More Positive When You’re Depressed
How do you become more positive when depressed? It sounds like a trick, right? Many people see depression as the opposite of positivity, without realizing that positive thinking is one of the best defenses against depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Admittedly, “bad” depression days are often so bad that all we can do is survive them, and that’s okay. Sometimes, you just have to wait for the storm to pass. However, a little positive thinking can make the process a little easier. If you’re wondering how to be more positive when depressed, stick around while we delve into the issue.
Positive Thinking and Mental Health: Does It Really Work?
When people talk about treating depression, they often refer to medication and therapy. While both of these approaches work for many people, they aren’t always enough on their own. Managing depression requires a careful balance of support, medical advice and self-help. One of the ways you can help yourself is through the power of positive thinking.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean you must adopt a sunny attitude all of the time. Smiling, laughing and “looking on the bright side” can feel downright impossible during a bout of depression, and failing at any of these things can make you feel worse instead of better. However, sewing small seeds of positivity can help you adopt a healthier mindset over time ("How to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude Despite Depression").
And it really works. According to Mental Health America, researchers found that people who kept track of their gratitude once a week were more upbeat and had fewer physical complaints than others. The same study also found that people who obsessively repeated negative thoughts and behaviors were able to change their unhealthy patterns with regular positive thinking exercises.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Tips for Positive Thinking When Depressed
If you’re wondering how to become more positive when depressed, you may need some actionable tips to get started. Here are some ideas.
- Keep a positivity journal: Positive thoughts can be few and far between when you have depression, so each time a happy or hopeful thought comes into your head or someone pays you a compliment, write it down in your positivity journal. Even if it’s something as small as seeing a beautiful flower or receiving a supportive text from a friend, keeping a record of your better moments will serve as proof at a later time that happiness is possible.
- Take a challenging situation and visualize the most positive outcome: Next time you feel hopeless in the face of adversity, imagine the most positive outcome. For example, you might resent having depression, but imagine that one day you could use your story to help others – to start a support group or write a book – or to grow your own company, as Blurt founder, Jane Hardy, did. How might that feel?
- Ask yourself if your negative beliefs are really true: Next time you observe a negative thought entering your mind, ask yourself: “Is there basis for this thought?” For example, has anyone ever told you that you were a terrible friend/mother/spouse apart from yourself? If so, is that person’s opinion the only one you truly value? What about all the times you’ve been supportive or helpful to the people in your life? Hold your negative thoughts up for inspection and you’ll soon see which are worth your attention.
Building healthy habits can be hard at the best of times. During depression, however, it often feels easier to hide under your covers and let the negative thoughts take over than try to change your patterns.
Try to challenge yourself during your stronger moments to try to find something – anything – to feel positive about. Not only is this kinder to yourself, but over time you can actually reconfigure your brain to focus on the positive aspects of life as well as the negatives.
Smith, E. (2018, December 11). How to Be More Positive When You’re Depressed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/positivity/how-to-be-more-positive-when-youre-depressed