Six Ways to Diffuse Depression
The Glad Game. Have you ever heard of it? It took place in a cranky aunt's home located in a town of hard-hearted people. Seems almost impossible, doesn't it? But a very determined little orphan girl wasn't deterred. She introduced the game to any who would listen by saying, "No matter how bleak the situation, you can always find something to be glad about."
Everyone, from the town recluse to the orphan's aunt, was eventually affected by "The Glad Game." All because of one little orphan named Pollyanna. "The Glad Game" changed the fictitious town, yet more importantly, it changed the author, Eleanor H. Porter, who penned the story. She was quoted, “Oh yes, my relationship with Pollyanna is personal. She got me thru my childhood.”
When the dark blanket of depression descends, a Pollyanna approach to life is the farthest thing from our mind. But should it be? Should we find something positive even in the bleakest of circumstances?
Like we discussed in part 1, bouts of depression can swoop down upon us unaware! But we who suffer from depression are not without hope! We don’t always have to resort to the pill bottle or the counselor’s couch to see the light of day. While there are benefits to those, we can choose to play Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” but rename it as “The Thankfulness Game.”
My friend, it is healthy and good to be actively engaged In overcoming depression.
Thankfulness. What's so powerful about being thankful? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist, scanned a woman’s brain two times, first when she was thankful, then when she was fearful. For the first scan, she dwelt on everything for which she was thankful. For the second scan, she meditated on all her fears of things which could go wrong.
The difference between the thankful brain and the non-thankful brain scans was stunning.
Her thankful brain lit up the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. This result makes sense. When we’re thankful, it adds a spring to our step and infuses hope into any situation and gives us the drive to push thru the hard things in life.
Proverbs 17:22 declares: "A joyful heart is good medicine!"
Her non-thankful brain showed a decrease in the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. Think about it, when we are fearful or down, our thoughts and actions become jumbled as if we’re walking through sludge. We're stunted from thriving.
Like Proverbs 17:22 warns: "A broken spirit dries up the bones."
Science proves the Bible!
Dr. Amen's brain scans prove Proverbs 17:22! Positive thoughts/thankful thoughts release endorphins - happy chemicals - which are stronger than morphine! "Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you. . . “ (Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Making a Good Brain Great, p. 151) Read more about this in part one.
My friend, this is good news! Thankfulness can help heal a bout of depression!
Here are 6 ways we can play “The Thankfulness Game”?
1. Three things
When I'm in "the pit of despair," I make myself think of three things I'm thankful for. Why? Thankfulness is good medicine. I might be in my car or in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. No matter where I am, I can always mentally choose thankful thoughts of glee to sweep away the dark thoughts of "woe is me."
2. Thankfulness Journal
I have notebooks here, there, and everywhere to remind me to write thankful thoughts. It's not only fun, it’s life-giving to look back over the lists and see the faithful hand of God. Research shows the benefit of keeping a running list of thankful things:
“10 weeks later…participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group.” (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Huffington Post)
3. Thankfulness Pinterest Board
Growing up, the sweet lady across the street kept a scrapbook full of her favorite pictures and quotes. I used to spend hours during the dark days of winter looking thru them next to a crackling fire with a warm mug of cocoa at my side.
Pinterest is a modern day version of her scrapbook. Start a thankfulness board on Pinterest and pin thankfulness thoughts and verses which inspire you. Simply type in "thankfulness quotes" or "Thankful verses" in your search engine search bar and then click images. Pin one or two a day. Check it regularly.
4. Thankfulness Screensavers
Speaking of thankfulness quotes or verses images, save a pretty one as your screensaver. Each time you pick up your phone or power on your computer, it will remind you to be thankful.
5. Thankfulness Sharing
Social media has enough negativity. There are others out there who need the thankfulness treasures you are unearthing. Like a flower girl casting pedals, share a thankfulness quote or verse on your social media page regularly.
6. Thankfulness Accountability Partner
I have a couple of precious friends I make (yes, I have learned I need to bully my flesh.) myself tell when I'm under a cloud of depression. They know when I tell them I am down-hearted, they are to point me to what is true and good and beautiful. They even sometimes make me tell them three things I'm thankful for and check in during the day to be sure I'm not wallowing in my pit of despair.
Life is hard. Dark days descend without notice. But God is good. He's given us a remedy for depression: a thankful heart. A cheerful heart. A glad heart. Pollyanna was right, “there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
How about you, my friend? What are some tricks of the trade you use to help fight the dark thoughts? Perhaps you're in the throes of a dark period. I'm sorry. That's hard. Let me know as I'd love to pray with you. But also, I challenge you to pick one of the 6 remedies listed above and faithfully implement them into your day. You can do this! I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.