Pessimism, negativity, sarcasm, hostility, and even apathy flow more easily when you are depressed. To overcome depression, you must turn the flow of this negative tide and strive, even if it seems like you’re straining against a strong current, to promote optimism, hope, and joy.
Emotional equilibrium comes when you learn to counterbalance anger, fear, and guilt with optimism, hope, and joy. Emotional balance is a skill you can learn and nurture in whole-person ways. Focus on your emotional self; but remember, you have an intellectual self, a relational self, a physical self and a spiritual self, all of which can be marshaled to assist your emotional self:
- Choose a positive, uplifting book and intentionally set aside time in your day to fill yourself up with constructive, encouraging messages. (This is your intellectual self supporting your emotional self.)
- Engage in some mild exercise this week. Physical activity is a wonderful way of promoting emotional health. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Stroll through a city park. Intentionally move your body and open up your focus to include the broader world around you. (This is your physical self supporting your emotional self.)
- Think of a person you really enjoy talking to— someone who makes you feel good about yourself or someone who’s just fun to be around—and intentionally plan to spend time with that person, even if it’s just for a quick chat. Make the effort to verbalize your appreciation for his or her positive presence in your life. (This is your relational self supporting your emotional self.)
- Take some time to nourish your spirit. If you are a member of a religious organization, make sure to attend services this week. If you are not, consider joining such an organization. Listen to some religious or meditative music. Spend time in quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer. Intentionally engage in an activity that replenishes and reconnects your spirit. (This is your spiritual self supporting your emotional self.)
These actions may seem like small steps. They may even seem unachievable, given the way you feel. Please, try to do them anyway. If you are emotionally out of sync, you can’t rely on how you’re feeling to determine what you do. These actions, done intentionally, will help you in two ways: (1) they will assist you in focusing on optimism, hope, and joy; and (2) they will reinforce the truth that you can intentionally respond to life and its circumstances. You can choose to respond positively. Today, choose optimism, hope, and joy.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and others.