Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"In the Moment " Tips for Coping with Depression - Part 2: Engage the Body

Today’s post focuses on strategies that engage the body in coping with depression. Here I'm suggesting that you take advantage of the awesome design of the physical and energy bodies to deal with distress by sneaking in the 'back door' - accessing issues through the body instead of the mind.

1. Honor Body Basics. By this I mean tend to all the basic things human bodies need to function properly. Have a Basics checklist:

  • Eat something nutritious
  • Take your vitamins/supplements
  • Breathe intentionally
  • Drink water - lots of it
  • Move - go for a walk, even 10 minutes
  • Rest - take a power nap
  • Rejuvenate: get some fresh air and sunshine

2. Outwit the Mind. Simple mind-body techniques go a long way toward shifting your energy relatively quickly. The biggest reason I love these techniques is that sometimes I'm just not able to directly or easily 'change my thoughts.' I first have to somehow shift feelings of heaviness and hopelessness, so intertwined with my thoughts. Some of my favorites include:

+ Smile. Make yourself smile, or half-smile, even though you don't feel like it. The body thinks you're happy and produces happy hormones.

Thump. Do the Three Thumps exercise described by Donna Eden in her book Energy Medicine: thump assertively several times each at your collarbones, breast bone, and the bottom of your ribs. This wakes up and stimulates your immune system and overall energy flow.

+ Chop. “Karate chop”: Bang the sides of your hands together repeatedly while speaking aloud ‘even though’ statements such as:

“Even though I feel hopeless, I totally and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel like a failure, I totally and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I don’t have a job right now, I totally and completely accept myself.”

This maneuver activates potent energy meridians while unhooking deeply held, subconscious beliefs. The karate chop is often used as an initial step in various tapping techniques, but is also very helpful by itself. One thought leads to the next, and the next, often guiding you to whatever underlying dynamic is really troubling you. And, as Louise Hay says in her book You Can Heal Your Life, the root of all dis-ease boils down to lack of self-love and self-acceptance. This exercise begins to re-write this most fundamental inner script.

+ Tap. Other mind-body techniques include the Rapid Relaxer from the book Instant Emotional Healing (Pratt and Lambrou), and any variation of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). These techniques involve tapping on specific sequences of energy meridian points associated with strong emotions to interrupt unproductive negative loops. As described in my previous post entitled Why Aren’t We All Tapping, they often produce seemingly miraculous results.

3. Come into the Now. Each of us has favorite ways to come into this moment, and out of the viscious cycle of self-defeating thoughts. The idea here is to engage the senses to distract, self-soothe and transcend despair one moment at a time. It is extremely useful to maintain a tried-and-true list of your personal favorites to pull out and use in times of depression. Some examples include:

* listening to music;
* taking a bath, especially with essential oils;
* doing yoga, dancing, jogging, walking – any form of movement;
* meditating or praying;
* practicing gratitude;
* journaling;
* reading or listening to something inspiring;
* getting energy work or massage (one of my favorites
J )

Pay attention to what works for you, and practice, practice, practice doing whatever it takes to bring yourself into this moment.

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