A Book Review
There are numerous self-help books that are published each year, with consumers paying hundreds of millions of dollars looking for a fix. I’m sure most of these end up unfinished by their readers. We all want to improve ourselves and find ways to ameliorate our lives. A self-help book without action steps may fall flat.
I recently came across a self-help workbook on climbing out of depression called The 10-Step Depression Relief Workbook: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach, written by Simon A. Rego, PsyD and Sarah Fader. It’s not just a book…it’s also a workbook. You learn, and you do. This workbook will help anyone make improvements in life. The authors break it down, explaining the basics of depression and our thoughts and actions (or inactions).
Who and Why
This 10-Step Depression Workbook is endorsed by Judith S. Beck, Ph.D. Who is she, and why should you care? Well, it was her father, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, who developed Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) back in the day, and Judith continues to educate and work in this field.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is learning to solve current problems while using various skills to modify thinking and behavior. Through CBT, “you will not only start to feel less depressed but will also start to notice a growing sense of confidence, mastery, and empowerment, which can help to prevent future episodes of depression” (p.18). Within the workbook is also the integration of mindfulness, acceptance, exercise, and healthy eating.
Depression is not sadness.
In fact, there are multiple types of depression, from clinical depression to bipolar to postpartum. Many who suffer from depression also suffer from co-existing conditions, such as anxiety (me! me! me!).
Those who struggle with depression know that there are external and internal factors involved, and understanding how depression affects our thinking is imperative. Have you ever heard someone say, “Just think positive”? It’s not so simple. The negative thoughts need to be replaced with realistic thoughts, and this workbook explains, step by step, how to go about it. Dr. Simon Rego and Sarah Fader help you fill your “mental toolbox” to counter negative thoughts.
Depression can be a liar.
You will learn how to spot these lies and tackle them head-on.
One of my biggest negative thoughts is that I’m a failure as a parent. This thinking, though, is “distortion of emotional reasoning” or “all-or-nothing thinking” as mentioned in this workbook. My mind ruminates on where I am falling short, and I fail to see what I’m doing well. Learning to reframe my negative thinking is essential.
I know I wouldn’t tell a friend, “Yes, you’re right. You really suck at motherhood.” I would tell her all the great things she is doing. Why must we always be so hard on ourselves? Why can we not give ourselves the benefit of the doubt as we do our friends?
What I like most about this workbook is that it supports what I’m already working on in therapy, yet it’s a resource I can turn to at any time. The process of breaking negative thought patterns (step 6 in the workbook) is a section I’ve read and reread. Not only do the authors lay out a process to do so, they encourage using mantras to think more realistically. One I like is “I am not my thoughts. I’ve got this.” Being able to separate my negative thoughts as “not me” encourages my objectivity.
One of the worst situations for someone depressed is being “stuck”. Doing anything can feel like a colossal feat, whether it is getting out of bed or brushing your teeth. There are various reasons you might feel stuck, and figuring out why and what to do about it is necessary to overcome it. I was pleasantly surprised that the authors mentioned the idea of kaizen in step 8 of the workbook because I recently published an article about tackling the New Year with this same concept.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “good change” meaning “improvement”. This simple term has morphed into a philosophy of “constant, continuous improvement” and is a mindset you can apply anywhere in your life.
Basically, it’s about taking “baby steps” of improvement. The ideas explored here will assist you to “activate your behavior” to get unstuck, to feel a sense of accomplishment and shift your mood. You will learn to not remain sedentary (that’s where depression can grow).
Healthy Lifestyle Habits
As I mentioned earlier, this workbook uses multifarious aspects that work together. One of those components is developing healthy lifestyle habits. One of the most dreaded components for me is exercise. Yes, this is definitely a place where I get “stuck” and don’t want to move forward. At the same time, I want those feel-good endorphins.
As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde says…
Okay, so I don’t want to shoot anyone, but I want that thing called “happy”. “Depression often hits hardest when we’re alone with our thoughts, and one of the best ways to cope with negative self-talk is by getting up and getting out the door” (p. 127).
The final step in the workbook is all about gratitude and mindfulness. Yes, those two buzzwords, but they really do have plenty of buzz for good reason.“Consciously being grateful for what you have turns your attention away from what you might be lacking…and being mindful gives you an opportunity to be focused on the present moment” instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s not just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. These habits are proven to allay suffering, uplift mood, and lead us to a more fulfilling life.
Visit Alicia at LifeSoDaily.com.
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