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Positivity for Depression: Is That Even Possible?

Positivity for depression isn't possible, right? Wrong! Positivity during depression is one of the best ways to thrive with a mental illness, and here's how.

Positivity for depression may seem like an oxymoron, but it is possible to be happy and depressed at the same time. In fact, increased feelings of positivity during depression can lessen depressive symptoms and help you fully engage and connect with life.

It isn't easy to conjure up good thoughts when you're depressed, however. Some days it will feel impossible, and that's okay. It's okay to feel negative emotions and to have bad days. It's okay not to be okay sometimes. But by committing yourself to a healing journey, you can approach positivity for depression one small step at a time and eventually reap the rewards.

Positivity for Depression: Steps to Take

There are many ways to marry positivity and depression to help you see your illness in a more compassionate, optimistic light. These include:

  • Limiting negative media consumption: Many of us feel like we're pulling the wool over our eyes when we switch off the news or take a break from social media, but we must do this occasionally if we're to survive a hyperconnected world (Positive News: How It Affects You and Where to Find It). Instead, focus your attention on books, TV shows and movies that make you feel good about yourself, and about life. If you can't focus your attention on reading or following a plotline, you can listen to a soothing audiobook or podcast.
  • Following a routine: Many people find sticking to a routine to be integral to living with depression. The structure can help you keep focus during your day and help you take care of the basics, such as good hygiene and healthy eating habits.
  • Practicing positive rituals: It can be helpful to incorporate positive rituals into your daily routine, so you always have something to look forward to. Positive rituals can be anything from taking a short walk in the morning to meditating in the afternoon or making yourself a nourishing lunch. If you find it hard to follow a routine, try setting the alarm on your phone to remind yourself to eat, shower or take a break. Alternatively, you can write a "wellbeing list" and tick off items as you go; doing this will help you feel a sense of accomplishment when participating in life feels like a struggle.
  • Turning your depression into something positive: By starting a depression support group in your community, keeping a blog or reaching out to others, you can re-frame your experience into something positive. Just don't give yourself a hard time if you're not there yet. Depression requires strength we don't always have, and your first responsibility is to yourself. If you don't feel ready to help others yet, don't worry – your time will come.

Positivity and Depression: Can They Ever Co-Exist?

People often assume that only pessimists and people with problems get depressed, but this is a misnomer. Depression is an illness. It doesn't discriminate according to money, life circumstances or personality traits. Of course, some people are more prone to depression than others (whether for genetic or situational reasons), but the reality is, it can strike any of us at any time.

Depression, therefore, like any other illness, doesn't care how naturally optimistic you are or what you have going on in your life. However, depression does, by nature, make you see the world in an unfairly negative light, which can be self-perpetuating.

Some describe it as a "black cloud" hovering over them or a dark veil in front of their eyes, tainting everything they see. The former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once described it as his "black dog." The black dog became a famous analogy for depression because it was an image so many of us can relate to: no matter how hard we try to find positivity during a period of depression, the black dog is often hard to shake off.

It's important to remember, though, that negativity is a symptom of depression. It isn't you. Practicing positivity for depression can help you overcome this all-encompassing negativity, just like physical therapy can help rehabilitate you after a bodily injury.

Positivity for Depression: A Key Takeaway

It's oversimplified and misinformed to say that positivity is always a choice, but there is some truth in that notion. Many of us are grappling with severe mental health conditions that are complex to treat, and accessing positivity about life isn't easy.

However, by committing yourself to healing, and by taking small steps in the right direction, you can set yourself up to work through the world more positively. You may just find that glimmer of light you've been looking for.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2018, October 31). Positivity for Depression: Is That Even Possible?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/positivity/positivity-for-depression-is-that-even-possible

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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