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Mechanisms for coping with stress: beating depression with behavioural activation

Mechanisms for coping with stress

 

Mechanisms for coping with stress is something I know all about. My nickname used to be ‘stressy’, no lie! I am quite highly strung and easily irritated. It’s why I’m on a quest to find enlightenment and serenity via mindfulness, meditation, closeness to Allah and any other way I can. In fact, I’m pretty sure chocolate aids stress too! Everyone at some point in their lives will come to know and loathe stress; normally they move on from it. It’s not always been that easy for me, I’m afraid. But there is a silver lining, my tests have made me passionate about helping others.

This month is stress awareness month; I would like to use it to talk about something that can exacerbate stress: depression. Strategies for coping with depression can also be used as mechanisms for coping with stress. Anything can cause stress: moving home, children, a new job, even getting married. The difference between this being a blip and a major hurdle however, is whether you suffer from any mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Depression can leave you feeling overwhelmed over seemingly small events. It makes it’s victims suffer from feelings of hopelessness, severe dejection, a lack of interest in things; and feelings of personal worthlessness.

A link between stress and depression has been found where the hormones that are released by chronic stress can cause depression; this therefore, suggests a link between chemical imbalance and depression.

My depression left me unable to cope with every day life. Little things like cooking would stress me out; I had zero tolerance for noise. Quiet in a flat filled with children is damn near impossible! What did help apart from medication, was a technique I learned from  CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). It’s called behavioural activation.

When you suffer from depression you have less energy to do anything as you feel demotivated. This makes things worse because it’s activity that boosts our energy levels and in turn makes us feel better. CBT turns this idea on its head with behaviour activation. An increase in activity leads to feeling more hopeful. This improves depression which gives you greater energy and that leads to increased activity. It’s a cycle.

By injecting behaviour in to your routine, whether it’s doing things for pleasure or necessity you change the pattern; leading to a decrease in depression. A great exercise is to write out truthfully what you do every day hourly, so you can see where you can fit in more activity. Fresh air and getting it and about really helps also. Building up a routine serves as an anchor of connection, in hard times you turn to what you know. The routine can be anything; for me it was going out into town with a friend and our kids.

Stress affects us all, but it doesn’t have to cripple you. There are so many mechanisms for coping with stress, but the first step is admitting you need help when it gets out of hand. I hope I’ve offered some ways that you can help yourself cope with stress. 🙂

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