dr. joachim sehrbrock, r.psych.

registered psychologist


the top 5 strategies for depression

other resources

Check out the fantastic resources at http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/

Have a smartphone? Check out the app: MindShift

strategy 5: the body scan

One of the most effective strategies to practice being present and to cope with anxiety is the body scan. Unlike other relaxation strategies, the focus of the body scan is to just notice body sensations and not to try to change anything (remember it’s all about just paying attention to what is present). Take as long as you like.

1. Breath: Start by noticing your breath. Don’t try to change your breathing, just notice it.

2. Scan: Scan your body from toes to head for body sensations (tensions, temperature, sensations from clothes or leaning against furniture or noticing the body on the floor, if you are lying down). Don’t try to change anything, just be aware.

3. Whole Body: Then notice your whole body.

Here is a recording of a 10-minute body scan:


strategy 1: the 5-senses strategy

An easy way to practice mindfulness is “The 5-senses Strategy,” which can help you stay in the present moment by keeping your awareness engaged. Find up to 5 things you can see, up to 5 things you can hear, and 4 things you feel (can touch). Do this several times.

depression about depression

Many people describe that they feel depressed about their depression. Sometimes people want their depression to go away, but this makes them more depressed about their depression. A more realistic (and often more relaxing) goal is often to learn to better cope with depression instead of trying to not have depression.

using mindfulness to work with depression

One effective way to learn to better cope with depression is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. When people are depressed they are typically focused on something they feel they can’t control or ruminate (overthinking) about things. Research shows that when people pay attention to things happening in the present (e.g., body sensations or activities like walking) and don’t try to stop their depression, they become less depressed about their depression. Learning to be present (especially when feeling depressed) requires practice.

strategy 2: stop struggling against discomfort

Instead of trying to suppress, stop, or get rid of the ways you hurt, simply be aware of it in a nonjudgmental way. Imagine that you invite your discomfort to tea. Accept it as it is and let it be. Remember, the more you try to avoid discomfort, the worse it gets.

strategy 3: thoughts are just thoughts

If you are plagued with difficult thoughts or memories and they make you feel anxious and awful, remind yourself that any thought is just that “a thought.” Thoughts are not reality, they are not who you are, they are just a string of words or pictures put together. You can be aware of these thoughts and therefore thoughts are not you. Notice when you get stuck in a thought and then simply remember “I am having a thought that…” This is like stepping off and watching a train (of thought) rather than riding on the train (of thought).

strategy 3: labeling feelings

Finally, having experienced adverse experiences often leads to difficult feeling states, such as hopelessness, helplessness, not feeling in control, anger, rage, frustration, etc. In many situations we don’t even know what we feel. So another way of practicing mindfulness is to simply label what feelings come in and out of your awareness. If you notice you are feeling something, try to label it “anger” or “sadness” or “helplessness” or “numb.” Then just watch the feeling, just as you would watch leafs on a stream.

practice makes perfect

One of the primary reason people don't benefit from these strategies is that they simply don't use or forget abouh them. When and how often are you goingo to practice any of these strategies?t