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How Psychotherapists Handle a Rough Patch

By Sandy Schroeder

If you are having one sad day after another, you may be looking for a way to smile. As it turns out, psychotherapists sometimes need to do that, too.

When I saw this report in Women’s Health, I thought it was definitely worth passing along.  They asked several psychotherapists what they do about depression. One said he knows it is time to take action when he feels “compassion fatigue.” As he talks to his patients he gets stuck on negative thoughts.

Here are some suggestions from the pros.

Try mindfulness meditation, which is now widely used by everyone from students to soldiers. In its simplest form, it is a meditation in which the individual sits quietly and allows thoughts to roll through the mind unjudged. I have used this process for a couple of years. I sit on my patio for 15 or 20 minutes, and watch the breeze play through the leaves of my plants. Each time I come away refreshed. Often new thoughts of gratitude and clarity quickly follow.

More Ways to Cope

The psychotherapists also recommended these simple ways to rally.

Get Moving

When nothing makes you a smile, a quick run or a brisk walk might turn the page. Dancing or biking works, too. I find I am beginning to think of new things, and perking up, by the time I am 10 minutes into my walk. Physical exercise prompts the body to generate feel-good emotions that help erase sadness.

Get Inspired

Turn to the creative things you enjoy and let your mind roam. Music, art or words make marvelous distractions. A wise friend of mine always said it is hard to think of two things at once. I find that is true when I use creativity to chase away sad thoughts. The more involved I become with the project, the less I think of sad things. The project can provide a new focus for your thoughts, and often motivate you to do more positive things.

Let Some Laughter In

One clinical therapist said humor is an essential ingredient in caring for one’s self. Pull out your favorite old funny movie, or call that friend who always makes you laugh. Over the years my family learned how effective laughter could be. When everyone seemed to be in a funk, one person would make a funny reference to something that always made us laugh.  That’s all it took to turn the day around and get us moving again.

If you are having periods of sadness that last more than a week or two, see your doctor for a reference to see a psychologist or psychotherapist to work your way through it.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Saint-Peters/Cottleville, Mo.

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