Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Preventing depression

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Preventing depression

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

How do you prevent depression? Is it possible? Some researchers say yes, some say no. Can you control your thoughts and emotional reactions, and behavior? What do you do when you are angry or moody? How do you cope?

I always thought I was chubby and had a chubby gene. But, when I finished Marine Corps boot camp, I learned it was about eating pizza, chips, and donuts. I never thought I could be thin. For many people, depression starts after a major life change or trauma. It can also happen if you have health issues. At times life ambushes you, the shock of an emotional event can be emotionally numbing. Like the time my ex-girlfriend texted me a Dear John letter while I was TDY: Grrr, brutal. But I recovered! I’m fine now. I used a few sessions of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Rational Emotive Therapy to clear my head. Sure, I was depressed, but I was determined to love again. Three billion women out there. I wore my “I’m available” T-shirt and walked bravely into the unknown.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression affects around 15 million Americans every year. But what can you do to prevent depression or reduce the psychological effects of having an emotional flat tire?

First, a family history of depression is an important factor to consider. Some are prone to depression and have a higher risk of developing chronic stress. If that is the case, how were the emotional and depressive symptoms handled in your family? How did you learn to cope with stress? Unfortunately, not every parent is a positive role model for coping with stressful life events. No escaping the fact that your inner emotions always find ways to be expressed. Developing resilience, a strong mental attitude, and the ability to fight back against your own negative thoughts is a challenge and an ongoing process. We are all “C” students in the game of life. Being alive is a challenge to our being, how we navigate life is up to us.

Conduct your personal inventory. What upsets you? What are your strengths? What needs to be strengthened in your character? If you have a chest-full of anger buttons, and the smallest things anger you, you’re going to be tough to please. Start by looking at your judgments. How do you evaluate the world around you? How do you evaluate people different from you? Can you find positive meaning in a stressful situation? I believe everything happens for a reason. There are no accidents in life. But we need to search for meaning. Why did this happen? What am I supposed to learn? If you are unsure about what to do— examine the consequences. Examine your own motives.

Most mental health professionals say the same thing about self-care and mental health. Have a moderate exercise plan, talk to friends and family. Don’t overdue alcohol or take drugs. Get proper sleep and watch your food intake.

Here are a few of Hilary’s Helpful Hints: Eat for nutrition, not for comfort. Make friends with yourself. Be nice to yourself. Don’t give yourself bad information. Hunt for the good stuff in life. Pay attention to your gut feelings. Don’t get to the point of helplessness. Total frustration is replaced with anger and resentment. Thought draws the line of fate. Believe in yourself. Maintain a positive attitude. You can begin again. Choose your direction. Trust your hopes not your fears. Focus on solutions, positives, and possibilities, this helps change toward your desired direction. If you don’t have a direction, create a short-term goal. We are all on the path of life. Keep it simple.

If you are a negative person and wearing your negative eyeglasses to see the world, then it’s time for a new pair of glasses and a turn toward positivity. To start, let go of unrealistic dreams or negative people in your life. Then, you can get on with your life. Self-talk reflects your beliefs of who you are in the universe. Focus on positive self-talk, not negative. Pay attention to you internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself all day? Self-talk can direct your thoughts and behaviors. Negative self-talk can increase your stress. Listen to your self-talk. Self-talk is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your self-talk is positive, you have a better chance of success. “I’m going to win the Lottery!!” Hmmm? Maybe that’s too positive? Let me change my glasses.

Hilary Valdez is a freelancer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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