I was in a rather intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy program some years ago after a very bad crash.

These are some tools/worksheets I’ve found useful in coping with life and depression in general.  It’s very much aimed at finding solutions to things you can and learning to let go of things you genuinely cannot help.  For instance, if the situation involves another person’s behavior, you really cannot control that.  I used to think writing this stuff out was goofy and hokey.  After all, I can organize things in my brain very well, thank you very much.  While that is true, writing it out in an organized fashion actually does get it out of your brain and more onto paper, leaving you able to work through things with a lot less stress and feeling of being overwhelmed.

The Worry List  — This tool is just a brainstorm.  You list everything you’re worried about — small things, large things, goofy shit, whatever you’re worried about.

The Worry Stopper  — This builds on the worry list.   It’s a grid broken into four sections: things you can control that are important to you, things you cannot control that are important to you, things you can control that are not important to you, and things you cannot control that are not important to you.  At the bottom of the page is a place for you to write down how you feel about it, and any observations you have.  It also helps you see clearly the things you can work on.

Identifying Needs — This is a tool that lists dozens of things you might want/need more of in your life. Go through it and circle everything you need more of in your life.  Then pick the three you think you need most.

Steps to Meet Your Needs  — This builds on the Identifying Needs worksheet.  You go through it, prioritize your needs, make a plan to meet them, and so on.  I really like this tool.

The Four Column Tool  — This is my favorite tool and I use it all the time.  If something has made me upset, I go through and identify the situation, list everything I was thinking about it, then list my feelings in relationship to it, and see if any of it is caused by one of the Fifteen Styles of Distorted Thinking  and see if I can actually turn it around into something that is not distorted.  This tool has kept me from spinning out of control more than once.

For me, these tools work best if I try to do them when I am only mildly annoyed/unhappy/uncomfortable to KEEP me from spiraling.   It’s a lot harder for these to work when I actually AM, though I do try to do them whenever I catch myself, even if it’s in a bad place.  Again, for me, it works best when I keep up the habit if actually USING at least one of them daily, too.

One thought on “Depression Coping Tools

  1. One tool I’ve just started using is Moodscope, which allows you to track your moods and lets you add notes to each score you generate every day you run the tests. It helps you to pinpoint what makes you feel good and what causes downswings in your moods and to spot patterns.

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