The idea of writing in a journal might seem spectacularly unhelpful for depression. You want to get away from negative thoughts, not wallow in them further.
Decide how long you’ll write in your journal each day. Then, set a timer for half that time. Vent your frustrations and distress until the timer goes off, then write about more positive and meaningful experiences.
Get your negative thoughts out. Then, aim to fill the same amount of space (whether that’s 10 lines, half a page, or one full page) by recording positive experiences, or challenging and reframing those negative thoughts.
2. Practice positive self-talk
The self-critical and self-defeating thoughts that often accompany depression can feel impossible to escape. Maybe they play on a loop — a track permanently set to repeat that you can’t seem to switch off. But this is depression talking, and depression often lies.
Revising the way you talk to yourself is an essential self-care tip for depression.
Try breaking down the negative thoughts:
Identify the thought.
Consider whether you have any proof to back up that thought. What evidence might counter it instead?
Get more insight by exploring cognitive distortions, like all-or-nothing thinking, mind reading, or overgeneralization.
Ask yourself if you’d say the same thing to a friend. No? What would you say instead?
Then, try slowly mixing positivity into your internal dialogue:
Aim to focus on everyday humorous and lighthearted moments instead of the darker ones.
When you find yourself fixating on flaws, remind yourself of your strengths and positive qualities.
Accept praise and compliments instead of brushing them aside.
Practicing mindfulness can help you tune into your emotions, making it easier to recognize distressing thoughts and feelings as mere thoughts — not reality.
Mindfulness also helps you stay present and engaged in your day-to-day life, so you’ll be more aware of pleasurable moments and sensations.
Consider these quick steps to enhance mindfulness:
Do one thing at a time. Devote all of your senses to that activity.
Take a nature break. Sit outside and experience the world with all of your senses.
When negative thoughts surface, sit with them briefly before reacting or responding.
Work with a therapist who offers mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.