'Surfing' yourself away from the wave of depression: Exercises to keep the blues at bay

Dr Jonty Heaversedge


21:00 GMT, 13 October 2012



21:01 GMT, 13 October 2012

The strong emotions experienced with depression can feel like a wave

The strong emotions experienced with depression can feel like a wave

About ten million Britons will suffer from depression at some point, and one in 20 will develop clinical depression.

Prescription drugs can help, although psychological therapies are becoming increasingly recognised as being just as important in managing the condition.

In the second extract from his book The Mindful Manifesto, DR JONTY HEAVERSEDGE explains mental exercises that can help.

The strong emotions experienced with depression can feel like a wave, crashing through your mind and body.

Like waves, emotions peak and fall and can sometimes be surfed. By riding emotions, we sometimes discover that they dissolve more easily.

Take your ‘emotional temperature’. Try visualising a recent occasion when you were feeling a strong emotion and pay attention to what happens to your body when you do this.If there is an area of your body where the sensations are stronger, take your awareness to that part of the body. Place your attention on the sensation and let it exist without judgment. Rather than fighting the feeling, see if you can just stay with it as it moves through your body.Notice if the sensation changes. Does it become more powerful Does its location in your body change How does it feel not to act on the feeling but just to carry on observing itNotice any thoughts that arise as you stay with these feelings. If you find it helpful, you can label the emotion, perhaps by saying to yourself: ‘Oh, depression is here – hello sadness.’Try reassuring yourself by telling yourself that it is OK to be experiencing it. Talk to the emotion, and invite it into your body as if it were a guest coming into your house. If the emotion is very intense, remember it’s fine to return to a more general observance of how your body feels or to refocus on your breathing as a way to anchor your experience.See if you can maintain some awareness of the emotion you’ve been riding. Where in the body is it now Has it changed since you were first aware of it Has it been superseded by another emotion As best you can, hold the feeling in your awareness without identifying with it or distracting from it. Realise it is an emotion that will come but that will also go.

The Mindful Manifesto by Dr Jonty Heaversedge and Ed Halliwell, Hay House, £10.99.