How Meditation Can Help Depression
Having depression is no fun — on some days you may be plagued by persistent low mood and irritability; on others, you may have a loss in interest in activities that you normally enjoy doing. You may even feel that death is the only relief from the life stressors that you currently face.
(Please seek help and contact your country’s emergency services should you feel suicidal; your safety matters; you matter!)
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How meditation can help
So, how does meditation benefit you in treating depression?
Basically, while meditation can’t get rid of your negative thoughts arising from depression, it can change your attitude towards them and consequently help you to better cope with depression. Meditation allows you to learn how to be more aware and accept your negative thinking as it arises instead of resisting and denying that they exist.
How to practice meditation if you have depression
If you wish to have better control over your depressive symptoms, you can try the following steps:
- Be relaxed and comfortable. The first thing you should do is to feel comfortable with yourself. This could mean taking a relaxing shower after a day’s activities before lying down or sitting up.
- Start by concentrating at your breath. Begin by breathing in slowly and deeply, holding your breath for 5 secs before breathing out. Focus on your breath and bring back your attention to it should it wander. Don’t be hard on yourself when your thoughts wander; gently refocus on your breath when that happens.
- Perform a body scan. When you have breathed for some time, focus your concentration on one part of your body known as a body scan. Note how each body feels when you breathe in and out. You are free to start your body scan on any part of your body. When you are done with body scanning, revert back to mindfulness breathing for as long as you need.
Additional pointers for meditating
- Make it a habit to meditate at the same time daily. Do baby steps to help yourself commit to daily meditation. Even a short time of 5 mins a day is helpful. The key is to be persistent and consistent. For example, you can do it at the start or the end of the day.
- Be patient to see positive results. As with other meaningful accomplishments, it takes time to see the benefits of meditation. Don’t give up too soon; persevere and soon you will find yourself managing your depression better.
When to seek help
If you experience severe symptoms of depression, meditation may not be enough to help manage your condition. It is then advisable to speak to a mental health doctor on your treatment plan.
Besides this, it’s best to get professional support quickly if:
- your quality of life has decreased
- you struggle to with daily life and responsibilities
- you have thoughts of self-harm or hurting other people
- you are suicidal
While meditation can’t cure depression, it can help reframe dark thoughts and prevent you from being trapped into a negative thinking cesspool that makes your depression worse.
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