Retrain Your Brain After Depression: Stop a Bad Day in its Tracks

Having a bad day sucks. Nobody likes it, but for people who struggle with depression a bad day can be really scary. The intense emotions generated can make you feel like you’re falling back down the rabbit hole of depression. The truth is when you have a history of depression sometimes all it take is a bad day to spiral you into another episode. Below are some tips to help you stop a bad day in its tracks before things get out of control.

  1. Breathe: When you get upset or agitated your sympathetic nervous system gets triggered and you go into fight or flight mode as if you were in real danger. Your adrenaline starts pumping, your muscles tense up and your breath gets shallow. Taking long slow deep breaths can start to turn that around. Deep breathing tells your mind and body to relax…there is nothing to fear.
  2. Do a body scan: Just sit or lay in a comfortable position. Focus your attention on each part of your body for a few moments. Notice where you are holding your emotional tension. Is it in your chest, your stomach, your shoulders? Allow yourself to feel the sensation in the body without judgment. Next imagine yourself letting it go with each exhalation. This exercise is not only deeply relaxing; it also helps you become more aware of the connection between mind and body.
  3. Practice benign interpretation: You are constantly making interpretations about everything. After a bad day, your mind might start turning in a negative direction. “This kind of thing always happens to me, my life sucks, I might as well give up.” Benign interpretation is simply not assuming the worst, but rather making a neutral or even a positive interpretation. With benign interpretation the above thoughts become: “This situation will end, I can get through this, tomorrow will be better.”
  4. Do something kind for yourself: After a bad day everyone needs a special treat. Get a massage, get your nails done, have your favorite treat, take a bubble bath, go out to dinner. Do something that makes you feel good. You deserve it after the day you’ve had!
  5. Call your therapist: Your therapist is there to support you. Maybe you just need a brief kind word or maybe you need an extra session. Remember you don’t have to get through this alone.