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September 19, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Healthy Minds On Campus – For wellness’ Sake, do one Thing Different Today!

Are you feeling stuck in a challenging situation which is affecting your wellbeing and studies? Do you feel things are spinning out of control and no matter what you do, the situation stays the same?

Bill O’Hanlon, a founder of Solution-focused Therapy and author of Do One thing Different and Other Uncommonly Sensible Solutions to Life’s Persistent Problems, shared his experiences of feeling the same way when he was battling depression. He did not find focusing on analysing why and how the problem happened helpful. Instead he found that it helped to examine how he was different when he was not “doing depression” and reflected on what had helped lift his mood in the past. He then moved on to “amplify” these differences until it made a difference for his wellbeing. Bill maintains that what you focus on expands. If you have been focusing on your problems/weakness/defects, however you like to name it, consider whether this has been helpful or has kept you stuck in the rut. When you focus on future possible solutions, you expand the range of options for change.
Suppose you are suffering from depression, and consulting Bill. How might you answer these questions?

How come the problem is not worse? What is/are something(s) you are already doing that has been helpful in maintaining and preventing your situation from being worse than it could have been?

‘What is one thing you can do today to make a difference?’

If a miracle were to happen tonight when you were sleeping ending your depression, what would you observe yourself doing differently first thing in the morning?

If you are currently struggling with a mood or anxiety problem, what are you already doing that is helping with the situation and preventing things from getting worse than it could have been? It is common for someone with mood or sleep problem to use alcohol or drugs to manage their day. Is this helping or is it perpetuating your challenges? It is known that while these substances may provide short term relief, they create longer term health and mental health consequences.

Often students who present with insomnia describe a bedtime ritual of lying in bed and thinking about how the day has gone. They often focus on the negative aspects and give themselves a “beating” for what they did not do well enough. These often generate negative emotions and not helpful in preparing the body and mind to be relaxed to drop off to sleep. If such a reflective ritual is helpful to you, consider doing it at breakfast instead.

For wellness’ sake, what would be one thing you could do differently about your situation today? Go for a walk, workout at the gym, talk to someone about it, cook yourself a nutritious meal…seek professional medical/ counselling help. Take that first step towards wellness today!

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