If you struggle with depression you’ve probably wondered how to stop depressing thoughts.
I believe our emotions and actions are the direct result of the way we think about ourselves, the world around us and even God.
Once we experience feeling depressed, we might try to manage that emotion by doing something. Maybe you’ve read articles about making a to-do list, engaging in an activity you enjoy or some other self care task.
Those things are helpful, however if we can get to the depressing thought or belief that resulted in feeling depressed, we can more effectively battle depression and hopelessness. In other words, we can pull the weeds out by the root, rather than just doing the endless task of mowing them down.
More About Depressing Thoughts
Before we talk more about how to stop depressing thoughts, I want to tell you a few facts about your thought life. First, while it feels like a lot of thoughts are racing through your head, we can actually only think one thing at a time. Secondly, whenever you put your mind to, will grow. That means, when you put your mind to depressing thoughts, your depression will grow. Finally, you can choose your thoughts. As a result, you have complete control over the thoughts you choose. Let me explain…
We often believe, “I can’t control my thoughts”. God’s Word says otherwise.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
If God calls us to take (depressing) thoughts captive, then we can rest assure we are equipped to do so. Believing we “can’t” change our thoughts renders us helpless and a victim to depressing thoughts.
The other belief that keeps us from stopping depressing thoughts is “it’s too hard”. We all like instant results. The battle of the mind is a battle that will likely never end this side of heaven. But, we do get better at the battle of the mind. We must remain steadfast in taking depressive thoughts captive. When we go over the five strategies on how to stop depressing thoughts, resist the urge to be discouraged if you don’t see instant results. Like all things, the battle of the mind takes practice.
Identifying Depressing Thoughts
The first thing we have to do, is identify what we are thinking. This is easier said than done. Grab a pen & paper and carry it around with you, jotting down the thoughts that run you through your mind. Disappointments in how life and relationships turn out can often be a common theme in depressing thoughts. When depressing thoughts are identified, then you are ready to begin challenging (i.e. stopping) depressing thoughts.
Challenging the Thoughts
Armed with your list of depressing thoughts you’ve identified, we can now sort the thoughts. We want to throw out what isn’t true and keep what is true. Challenging inaccurate thoughts is how we stop depressing thoughts from the continuing to loop in our head.
Preventing Depressing Thoughts
Practicing a healthy thought life strengthens our ability to battle thinking that leads to depression.
How to Stop Depressing Thoughts: 5 Habits
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. Ephesians. 4:32
Forgiveness is a command to all of God’s people. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven of much. When we choose to forgive others we release the offense into God’s hands and release the offender from our punishment.
The blessing to us is releasing the offense. We don’t carry it like heavy baggage. Have you heard the old saying (not sure who said it) – “refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Therefore, forgiveness is beneficial for our own mental health. Not to mention, we are physically healthier as well.
Is there an old hurt that needs to be released? Check out this article for more information.
Renew Your Mind
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Nothing transforms the mind and stops depressing thoughts more than being in God’s Word. The practice of Bible study restores strength for the day and hope for the future.
The more time invested in God’s Word, increases our knowledge of God, the world around us and ourselves. We grow in our ability to see things through God’s eyes. Consequently, we get really good at crushing negative or inaccurate thinking that allows depression to take root and grow.
Here are a few resources to get you started with renewing the mind. First, check out this article on the benefits of Bible study. If you would like a printable outline to give you some direction when renewing the mind this post will help.
Thinking Positive Thoughts
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Be careful what you put your thoughts on… it will affect your emotions. Depression often starts with beliefs and thoughts about our life and relationships.
This isn’t magical thinking. I’m certainly not recommending you pretend everything is great, if it’s not. However, I do want to suggest that we look at the same situation from different angles. Just like a movie being shot from different camera angles, we must take the time to consider our angle doesn’t see the whole scene.
For more information on taking thoughts captive get your free Bible study below. You can also get more information about the steps on how to stop depressing thoughts here.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Did you know there is actually a leading researcher on the topic of gratitude? His findings indicate the practice of gratitude can raise our level of happiness by 25 percent!
There are so many ways to cultivate gratitude in our lives. First, we can journal about the things we are grateful for. There is something powerful about putting pen to paper. Second, tell others about the things for which you are grateful. Third, meditate on the blessings God pours on you, in prayer. In other words, bring thanksgiving to God in your prayers.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Talk with God about the things you are struggling with. He can do more in a moment then we can do in a life time. Prayer opens the dialogue with God, and deepens your relationship with Him. Begin casting your cares on Him to day.
Wrapping Up How to Stop Depressing Thoughts
In order to stop depressing thoughts the first thing we have to do, is be aware of what we are thinking. It’s important to identify the thoughts that are inaccurate and begin challenging those thoughts. There are 5 patterns that will help with depression. First, be forgiving. Unforgiveness leads to heaviness and carrying burdens from the past. It also is the point at which we hault healing.
Second, take time to renew your mind. Nothing is more transforming than being in God’s Word. Third, put your mind on positive thoughts. Positive thinking is not magical thinking nor is it pretending that reality does not exist. Positive thinking does, however, take the time to look at situations from all different angles.
Begin to make practicing gratitude a daily intention. Research shows happiness is boosted by 25% by cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your life. And don’t forget to be prayerful. Talk with God about the things that weigh heavy on your heart. Begin casting your cares on Him to day.