The way you talk to yourself matters. The thoughts we indulge in dictate how we feel. When your mind is spinning in negative self-talk and pessimistic views of life events, it makes perfect sense that you would feel defeated, depressed, or anxious. Trouble is, negative or critical thinking is a powerful habit that feels to happen TO us. That is actually not true, we have power over what we think. But, the thoughts can become automatic and difficult to avoid when it’s been our way of viewing the world for a long time. It’s often been taught to us in our family of origin since we were very little, and we may not have ever known how to have a positive or optimistic thought!
But research has shown again and again that happy people have inner dialogues that are optimistic and self-compassionate, even in difficult or embarrassing circumstances. Research has also shown that we have power to improve the quality of our thoughts. I believe it is a fight worth under-taking. It is never to late to work on your thinking and improve your base level of happiness day to day.
*Important disclaimer to following article- the tips below address non-suicidal depressed mood. If your partner is showing signs of suicidal ideation or talking about wanting to die, get them to emergency MEDICAL help immediately. At that point it is about life saving measures, and a spouse cannot provide that help.
Hard work and compromise are necessary to keep any marriage alive and well, even during the “up” times of life. But what happens when the stress becomes overwhelming, and emotional challenges get thrown in the marriage mix? What happens when one of the partners can’t give as much because they feel, just… down? How does a marriage whether a storm of mental health challenges?
I’m going to get very personal, with the permission (and help) of my husband. We agree that depression, and its effects on the loved ones of those suffering, is a prevalent and important issue and we are willing to share our own experience. We both have families with histories of mental illness, and have had minor bouts with “the blues” ourselves at different times when life was stressful. Over the last year, however, things got serious emotionally for my husband. His “blues” hit symptomatic levels that made daily activities and participation in family life difficult to manage. Stress from work became oppressive, and soon hopelessness and exhaustion were about the only thing he was feeling. We’ve struggled together to get through this storm and return positive, hopeful feelings to our home.
Chronic stress causes problems in every area of life, not the least of which is physical sickness and mental exhaustion. Many people’s depression and/ or anxiety can be traced to chronic high levels of stress. We live in a face-paced and complex world with more stressors than ever. The problem is that people who are stressed out don’t feel they have the time to do anything about it- and so the stress gets worse and worse.
When you honestly have very little time to take a step back from life and take care of yourself, you need to get creative about carving out peaceful moments throughout each day. Prioritize and simplify wherever you can, because as the old adage says, if you don’t take time to be well now, you will certainly take time to be sick later. While you’re figuring out how to cut some things out (!), here are some simple strategies you can implement today to de-stress: