“Don’t Be a Pack Rat”
This Depression Hack refers to both your mind and your space. In order to better deal with depression, it is important to keep your mind mentally clear and your space physically free of clutter. The two work hand in hand. Let’s start with keeping your mind clear. One major symptom of depression is experiencing cloudy or poor judgment. You may feel like you can’t think clearly or make any decisions. This is partially because your head may be full worries, what if’s, despair, negative and even sometimes catastrophic thoughts. On top of that, you may have unwarranted advice, unprofessional opinions, criticism, self-doubt and even shame. No one can be expected to heal with all that chaos packed in their head. You need to consciously clear it all out.
You are in control of your own thoughts, so you CAN do it. Every second a negative thought enters your mind, use the thought-stopping technique and replace it with a word or phrase of your choice. (We like the word “Evanesco” from Harry Potter’s vanishing spell). Don’t let the negative thought in. Block it. Distract yourself, focus on your breathing, and repeatedly think of the word or phrase you chose to replace it with. It really is as easy as it sounds with practice. You may have to do it fifty times an hour, but eventually you will get better at keeping the the bad thoughts out and the good thoughts in.
As far as keeping your space free of clutter, the title says it all. According to the Urban & Webster Dictionaries, Pack Rats are people who store everything they acquire and discard none of it, especially unneeded items. Believe it or not, all the stuff you have is recorded somewhere inside your brain. You may not be thinking of it on a day to day basis, but you subconsciously know that you have six sets of flatware, twenty-five ugly ties and twelve hockey sticks jammed in that tiny closet collecting mothballs.
Your brain is also aware that you have been meaning to get rid of all of that stuff, along with everything piled in the garage, the attic and stacked up on your treadmill. That awareness is a stressor taking up space in the back of your mind. Get rid of it! Pick a day, grab a friend and de-clutter. As a rule of thumb, get rid of anything you have not used nor seen in over a year . . . You don’t need it. Pack it up and give it to a charity who can use it.
If you make an effort to bring order to the chaos of your personal space, you will also be making an effort to better deal with your depression. The concept is similar to the idea of an empty in-box. Surely you have heard that one of the keys to success in business is to clear out your in-box by the end of each day. When it is empty, you have nothing weighing on your mind that you have to do, and therefore no stress. When it is half full, you have a little anxiety about what you still have to get done before the end of the day. When it is overflowing, you are frazzled, thinking you will never get done with it all. The same is true with your personal space. Empty all of your personal spaces of the things that don’t matter, so you can focus on the more important things, like your own healing.
In short, don’t be a pack rat!
Please note that we are not minimizing depression with any posts on this page. Depression is a serious disease that in many cases must be treated with professional help, medication and therapy.