Friday, March 15, 2013

The Opposite of Depression and 30 Healthy Coping Skills


What is the opposite of depression?

Outside looking in, one might conclude that happiness is the goal of depression recovery.  That, in a certain sense, being depressed and being happy are two sides of the coin called life.  However, happiness is not the opposite of depression.  Even those who have never been touched by the illness will tell you that their lives are not always “happy”.

Happiness cannot be pursued; it just “happens”.  It is a bi-product.

When conducting an experiment, (ahem...shout out to Matthew Me Bro) one can look for signs that indicate a reaction has taken place.  For example, smoke can be a sign that a flame and a burnable substance have been joined together.  If you have lived under a rock your whole life, never went camping, or gone to a bonfire, and you set out to create smoke without knowing how to make a fire, you probably won’t get very far.  You must first follow the directions to achieve your goal.

If you set out to create the bi-product (or result) without know the steps of the process, you will have a very difficult time creating it.

However, if you start an experiment, following all the instructions along the way, you will have a great chance of success.

When recovering from depression, you can’t chase happiness.  Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes like the weather.

Happiness is only a sign that certain things have taken place.

Recovering from depression is more about seeking to function in a healthy manner.  It is more about developing good coping skills to deal with stress, anxiety, or other “triggers”.

Stress is a normal part of life.  Sadness is also a common part of life, just like rain is a common occurrence in the weather.  However, how you deal with the ebb and flow of emotions determines a healthy lifestyle.

Stress can be good; it can help you know when and how to act in response to a situation.

However, when I am under severe amounts of stress, I just want to starve myself.  For whatever reason, I developed that bad habit in order to deal with my emotions.  I felt like I had to control my emotions, and I could not.  So, I chose to control where, when, how, and what I ate.

When struggling with depression, it is common to feel overwhelmed and stressed about even the tiniest of things.  The roller coaster of emotions seems to go higher and lower than other people who are not struggling with depression.

It is good to get professional assistance, and perhaps medicine, to help level out the radical highs and lows.  But, the highs and the lows will never completely go away.  It is a normal part of life to experience ups and downs; it can be a good and beautiful part of life if you let it.

The key is to cope with the ups and downs in a way that is healthy.  Starving yourself is not a good way to deal with life.  Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, abusing substances, binge eating, obsessing, isolating, self-injuring, or other self-destructing tendencies are harmful and unhealthy ways to cope with life as well.

Counseling can help you to re-train your brain and re-form your habits into healthy, uplifting skills that will greatly improve the quality of your life.

Below are some of my ideas for healthy coping skills:

Running or Walking
Slow breathing
Taking a Shower or Bath
Learning more about the disorder
Reading blogs or self-help books/articles
Tending to a garden
Doing the dishes
Cutting up vegetables
Painting or drawing
Listening to music
Watching a funny movie
Going to Confession
Playing an instrument
Calling a friend
Having coffee with a friend
Walking a dog
Playing tennis or other sport with a friend
Going out to eat with a loved one
Arranging not to be alone, reaching out to your support system
Praying the Rosary
Drinking a cup of coffee/tea
Going to the Library
Making a Craft/Sewing/Knitting
Baking/cooking Something
Doing Housework/cleaning
Making a Visit to Church

What are your healthy coping skills?


  1. My coping skills are based on Romans 12:2b "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind." When I change my thoughts, ( which I never thought I could do until I was taught it, and even then I fought that idea for 6 months thinking it would not work), but when I made the effort to change my thoughts, my feelings adjusted. This coping tool has helped me stabilize thru all kinds of emotions that often changed rapidly. I thank God for this coping tool every day, and for the coined phrases that I learned that helped me to put this tool into practice.

    1. I love that too! I have been trying to re-train my thoughts on a daily basis for some time now. Our thoughts do not have to dictate our actions. Thoughts come and feelings. I never tied it to that verse before but that is a great one! I will have to remember Romans 12:2 in tough times. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Short Scripture quotes posted on 3 x 5 cards are great for retraining my brain's thoughts. In fact, Steve Wood has shared that for a person who is addicted to pornography, to be set free, they MUST exercise their will and replace the pornographic thoughts with Scripture quotes every time the pornographic thoughts come up. It takes repetition over and over to learn this new habit.
      So, with the power of the HOly Spirit, as I cannot do it myself, I had to exercise my will many times to retrain my thoughts from negative thoughts that would creep up about my self-worth, into Scripture quotes.
      In the beginning, when I did not have a relationship with Jesus, I had to use secular coined phrases to re-orient my brain thoughts, but it worked and helped me to see a relationship with Jesus in a whole new light. Praise God for these tools!

  2. Mary, your reflections are beautiful and your self-help tips are stellar! I love your honesty in writing, and I'm so happy I recently found your blog. I have a few questions I'd love to ask you, can I have your email to write on a more private forum? Keep these posts coming, you're incredibly inspiring!!
    Much love, Angela

    1. Hello Beautiful! I am glad you like my blog. My email is maryb4jc(at)yahoo(dot)com.
      Love you too!