By Maureen Forman
As a therapist who practices Cognitive Behavior Therapy, there are some basics that I help my clients practice in order to reduce Anxiety and Depression:
1) Recognize the things that are beyond your control and stop ruminating about them. When you catch yourself repeatedly thinking about (or repeatedly telling friends about!) the injustices you have suffered… …STOP! ……Now replace those thoughts right away with an image of the happiest moment you can remember (the birth of your child, swimming in the ocean, tasting the perfect pie, your current art project). Literally replace those thoughts every time they pop up … do not let it take hold or linger. Keep happy images around you. Keep happy music around you. Close your eyes and let your imagination build a beautiful place to be.
2. Choose being happy over being right! Let yourself lose arguments sometimes. Let the other person‘s interpretation of an event or choice of restaurant stand once in a while. Don’t automatically challenge or add to things other people say… especially when it is doesn’t really matter. Or simply agree to disagree and change the subject. Don’t attend every fight you are invited to!
3) Jump off the Could-a, Should-a, Would-a Train! Coulds, Shoulds, and Woulds are based in the Past or the Future… to which you have absolutely no access!! Stay in the present. Keep your mind focused on here and now: sights, smells, sounds that are happening right this minute will pull you out of past regrets and future worries faster than anything else. And don’t forget to sit still and listen to yourself just breathe… every day … many times a day!
4) Talk Less/ Listen More. You will be amazed when you really spend time listening to the lives of others, how your life suddenly takes on much better proportions and feels more manageable. When in doubt, turn on your compassion and really listen to what others are saying instead of trying to solve their problems or engaging in the popular sport of “Competitive Complaining” by trying to outdo their complaints with stories of how your life is much worse!
5) Hang out with Positive People! Try making friends with people who actually like their lives… You will be amazed at how much better you feel around them and how you begin to feel more comfortable saying that you actually like a lot of parts of your own life too!
Remember: What we think about and talk about IS who we are… and that is something we definitely have some control over!