One of the most common features of expat depression is negative thinking. Unrealistic expectations, lack of a support network and dealing with the foreign language can create a lot of pessimism. Here are 3 effective tipps:
1. The quickest way to change how you feel is to change how you think
You can control how you feel by controlling how you think. This is an active choice you can take: Changing your thinking is important, because it is the key to how you feel. Most people believe that we have to change our feelings in order to change our thoughts - but this is not true, it is actually the other way round. The first step to change negative thinking is therefore to know that it is possible to control the quality of your thinking.
2. Keep track of negative thoughts
We have around 50.000 thoughts a day. If most of your thoughts are negative, then it can be very helpful to keep track of just how many negative thoughts you are actually having. One way to do this is a thought journal in which you note any kind of pessimistic thinking. You will be surprised about how many negative thoughts you can have during a day. This includes negative thoughts about yourself, other people or situations. Even negative thoughts about things around you. Any time you focus on a problem rather than on a solution, you are practising negative thinking. Keeping a journal will help you to assess the amount and degree of your pessimistic thinking.
3. Identify situations that trigger negative thinking
This can be for example a negative remark about your work or a situation in which someone ignores you. Create corresponding positive thoughts for situations that trigger negative thinking: For example, a negative remark about your work will maybe trigger the negative thought "I am not good enough". A corresponding positive thought could be "I am getting better and better every day". By quickly converting negative to positive thinking and practising this for a few days you will feel the positive effect on how you feel.
Continue reading: How art therapy can help reconnect with yourself.
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I offer psychotherapy in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. You can book a free 60 minute initial session by sending me an email or calling me: (040) 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!