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How to Reduce Symptoms of Depression Through Mindfulness

“Get out of our heads and learn to experience the world directly, experientially, without the relentless commentary of our thoughts. We might just open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities for happiness that life has to offer us.” – Mark Williams

purple_water_drop_4_by_shayne_gray-d33c9pfMindfulness is becoming aware of the way in which we go through life, so we can become more intentional with our actions. You learn to observe your thoughts with openness and acceptance, rather than judgment. Imagine having a relationship to your thoughts where you realized they were just that – thoughts, and not reflections of reality!

Depression is one of North America’s leading mental illnesses. According to Help Guide, you may be depressed if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Loss of energy
  • Self loathing
  • Reckless behaviour

“Brooding is a key feature of depression,” says psychologist Mark Williams. In people who aren’t depressed, sad thoughts pass rapidly. People who suffer from depression are likely to experience rumination and brooding of negative thoughts. Mindfulness practices tackles this pattern teaches people compassion towards themselves and others.

1. Be present in this moment

You can learn to pause, reflect, and then react to your thoughts rather than reacting automatically. If you find yourself preparing to lash out, you can take a step back from your automatic reaction and ask yourself, “Why is this affecting me so negatively?” Mindfulness allows you to step back and remind you that your thoughts are just thoughts. Nothing more.

2. Accept your negative feelings

Sometimes, all it takes is acceptance of your internal state. When you try hard to reject your feelings, this creates even more negativity. By positively inviting yourself to experience your emotions as they arise, they lose their hold on you. Imagine your self-talk going from “Oh no! I don’t want to feel this way. Go away sadness. This sucks. Why do I always feel like this?” to thinking “Oh! There’s sadness. Hi sadness!” Although it might sound silly or impossible to put in practice, it really does make a difference how you appraise your thoughts. Try welcoming your emotions, rather than suppressing them. You might be surprised how quickly rumination and negative thoughts lose their hold on you.

3. Focus on a solution

What are you passionate about? What makes you happy? It could be writing, running, cooking, sailing… If you’re having trouble thinking of something that makes you deliriously happy, try a couple of activities! It could be hard finding the motivation to do so, so try calling a friend and setting up a date to try new things together. Maybe rockclimbing is your hidden passion, but you have yet to try it! Find out what makes you happy, and gives you a sense of accomplishment, and make sure you incorporate this activity into your life at least once a week.

4. Practice gratitude

When you’re dealing with depression, it can often feel as though you have nothing in your life to be grateful for. Try writing down a couple of things in your life, even the smallest details, that you derive pleasure from. It could be a really beautiful sunset that you saw on your walk home from work, the sale at the grocery store, or that phone call you received from a loved one the other day. Find a couple of things in your life that you’re grateful for and write them down. You can try doing this every evening before bed to start forming a habit.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional who you trust. Help is available to you. 


Depression Symptoms & Warning Signs. (n.d.). : Recognize Depression Symptoms & Get Help. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm

Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011).Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. London: Rodale Books.

By: Kaya Quinsey


About Kaya Quinsey

Kaya is the Social Media Strategist at KMA Therapy. She recently completed her Honours Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Toronto. She is just starting her masters degree in clinical psychology at the Adler Graduate Professional School. Kaya has worked as a outpatient group fascilitator at CAMH in the Richmond Street Outpatient Clinic where she helped run weekly group meetings centered around fashion blogging, for individuals with schizophrenia. She has worked as an undergraduate research assistant at OISE's Esther Geva Research Lab focusing on child development and OISE's Emotion & Psychotherapy lab for Dr. Watson. In addition, she has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Mount Sinai's psychological trauma program.

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