When you are feeling depressed, there are many things that you can do to help yourself feel better or to make yourself feel worse. I’ve touched on some of the things that can help you feel better before, but right now I just want to mention what not to do. If you reflect upon your own experiences, I think this will ring true.
The last thing that you should do when feeling depressed is to isolate yourself from others and think negative thoughts. Oddly enough, that’s often what we want to do when we are feeling depressed, but it’s usually the last thing we need. According to the very popular cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) model, our thoughts lead to corresponding emotions. Thinking negative thoughts is likely to result in feeling depressed, anxious, or angry (with the specific feeling depending upon the specific type of thought).
Isolating ourselves from others when feeling depressed often results in us ruminating about the things that are depressing us – a failed romantic relationship, rejection, job dissatisfaction, conflicts, our shortcomings, etc. As these negative thoughts cycle through our heads, we tend to get more and more depressed.
Most of our happiness in life in one way or another is derived from having satisfying relationships with others (and I’m not talking about romantic relationships -it’s more broad than this). Isolating ourselves from others makes our world shrink. Our dark thoughts become our private little world. The thing is, relating with others allows us to get out of this dark world and to connect in satisfying ways with others. Most importantly, it will break up the cycle of negative thoughts as we engage in interactions with others.
So, the next time you are feeling depressed – even if you want to go home alone and drink a beer by yourself – try to call a friend and go do something – anything! Even if it doesn’t exactly make you happy because you have a major struggle you are going through, you are likely to feel less depressed than if you had gone home, isolated yourself, and focused on the negative things in your life.