Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Shares some methods that can be practiced at the gym for breaking the cycle of negativity.
One way to sabotage yourself is to take a single event and treat it as an ongoing source of negativity. “People who are unemployed do this a lot,” says Rego. “They’ve lost their job because of the economy and they personalize it.” In the gym, EVERYONE has a bad event every once and a while. That happens, GET OVER IT and GET ON WITH PRACTICE. Realistically- How does having a BAD vault workout matter when you are on BEAM? It’s also unhealthy to catastrophize–focus on the worst imagined outcome, even if it’s irrational.For example, we all have pre-meet stress (our own version of PMS) but we can’t let concerns about the upcoming meet escalate into “If I don’t do well in this meet then I will NEVER be able to do gymnastics in college.”
Ever clash with a colleague or fight with a team mate and then keep obsessively thinking about it, amplifying the anger, stress, and anxiety associated with the memory? Known as rumination, this type of thinking is linked to a greater risk of becoming or staying depressed. While reflection is a good thing, and may help you solve problems, rumination does the opposite. If you catch yourself ruminating, studies suggest it may help if you try to distract yourself, meditate, or redirect your thoughts.
Retire Your Crystal Ball
Very few (if any) of us are blessed with the ability to predict the future. But depressed people will often convince themselves they know what will happen a day, a month, or a year down the line. And it’s usually bad, if not downright catastrophic. Fortunately, our dire predictions rarely come true. Try to stay in the present. It’s much more manageable and you’re less likely to blow things out of proportion.
Don’t Dwell On The Past
It’s pretty pointless to tell yourself you should have done this or shouldn’t have done that. You can’t change the past, but you can live in the present. Just accept that you made the best decisions you could have made with the information or resources you had at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20, so best to try to just let it go and don’t beat yourself up for perceived missteps. And do a rumination check; ruminating about the past can generate anxiety, just as worry about the future.
Reach Out To Others
A hallmark of depression is isolation. It can happen easily if you’re not working out due to injury or sickness. But reinvigorating or expanding a social network provides an opportunity to get support, perhaps even from people in the same or a similar situation, says Rego. “Once you start reconnecting with people, you get a sense they understand,” he says. “You get positive advice and encouragement and it’s often done in activities that end up being fun.” Staying home alone will perpetuate the depression. Getting out with other people–even a little bit–will lift your spirits.
Stick To A Structured Routine
Even if you don’t feel like it, make sure you get up at a set time, eat meals at the same hour every day (even if you’re not hungry), and avoid lounging on the couch during the day lest it prevent you from sleeping well at night. “People who are depressed tend to eat or sleep inconsistently,” says Rego. “Even if you’re feeling down, it’s really important to set and establish a daily routine as best you can. This gives you a sense of regularity that can help with a depressed mood.” If you can incorporate socializing into your routine, all the better.
Avoid Black And White Thinking
Black and white is great for zebras, but not thoughts. Depressed people tend to think in extremes: I’m a loser. No one loves me. I’ll never get that skill. But your thought patterns could put you in a rut or keep you there. “Being depressed or sad is going to color the way you think about yourself in a negative direction,” says Rego.These thoughts can paralyze you and stop you from doing the very things that will get you out of a lousy situation. Try to think in shades of gray, says David R. Blackburn, PhD, a psychologist with Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. Instead of “no one loves me,” try “lots of people (if not everybody) love me.”
Reality Check Your Thoughts
If you’re depressed, negative thoughts go with the territory. However, they are rarely grounded in reality. Once you’ve identified a negative thought, ask yourself, “Where is the evidence that I’m the most despicable human being on the entire earth?” There probably isn’t any. “You can’t just be rattling these thoughts back and forth and saying they’re true,” says Blackburn. “You have to come up with some solid evidence.” And if you’re worried about what people are thinking about you, go ahead and ask them.
Choose Smart Goals
Select a few simple, straightforward goals you can easily set and follow, suggests Rego. Those goals should be SMART, which stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time-limited.” So for example, deciding you will have that new trick by the end of the week is unrealistic. But deciding to do two new drills for your new skill by the end of the week, on the other hand, is SMART. It’s specific. It’s attainable. It’s not that much effort to do and it could be rewarding.
Fake It A Bit
Write down all the things you used to like doing in the gym that you’ve stopped doing because you’re sad and depressed. Then, one by one, start reincorporating these activities into your practice even if you’re feeling unenthusiastic about it. Also, focus on tasks that can give you a sense of mastery or accomplishment, whether it’s just some basic skills. That can help ease the depression as well.
Treat Yourself Well
Take a look at the language you use when you think about or talk to yourself and compare it to the way you talk to everyone else. If there’s a disconnect, try to treat yourself in a kinder, gentler way. “We’re often kind to everybody else but we beat ourselves up. That’s a double standard,” says Blackburn. “It would be preferable to use a single standard: Don’t beat everyone else up, but get off your own back too.”
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