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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Depressed? Consider this Strategy Today

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 28th 2010

hand in handOne of the most difficult qualities of depression is a constant negative self absorption that just cycles on itself. The depressed mind is always focused on itself, “I’m no good, no one likes me, why should anyone love me anyways, etc…” It’s exhausting to think about yourself all the time and the fact is, the person who is depressed doesn’t want to, they’re sick of ruminating on their life.

So one of the things I often recommend for people to do to get out of their heads and back into life is to consider doing something that inclines their minds to thinking about other people.

A great example of this is so form of giving.

Why not, this is that time of year anyway, the holidays are coming up and there are so many people in need of some form of service.

There are so many ways to give, here are a few:

  • Give Blood.

  • Go to a shelter on Thanksgiving or Christmas and help serve food.

  • Give money to a favorite charity.

  • Sign up to volunteer at a hospice.

  • Participate in a walk-a-thon that benefits AIDS, Cancer, or you-name-it.

  • Give your time to make calls for a political campaign you believe in.

Take from this list or get out a piece of paper or open up a document on your computer and continue this list with another 5 ways to give. On this list you can also include small things like smiling at the check-out clerk. This too is a form of giving. 

There’s nothing mystical about this, it just makes sense. In order to get out of our self-absorption, we need to focus on things and people outside of ourselves. When we do this we’re mixing in positive things into the pool of our depressed mood.

There are a number of research studies pointing to the benefits of altruism and for the purposes of this post, consider this as a way to work with depression.

Here’s how to begin:

  1. Start with a list.

  2. Rate each on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most favorable.

  3. Choose the highest number.

  4. Create a step-by-step plan on what needs to be done to move in that direction.

  5. Invite your friends and family along to support each other in the process.

That’s it…

Life is an experiment in so many ways. The mind is going to come up with all kinds of stories as to why you can or can’t do this: “I’ve tried this before, nothing works,” or “this seems like baloney.” Look at what the net effect of these statements are, they keep you from moving forward. That’s it, the stories aren’t facts, but let your direct experience of this moment guide you.

Go ahead and give it a try today, the world needs you more than you know.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Response - Just a Piece of a Strategy - Elisha Goldstein, PhD - Nov 1st 2010

Please keep in mind, this is a piece of advice to add into your plan for relapse prevention, not the entire strategy. 

over-simplified - Tierp - Oct 31st 2010

and patronising view

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