Begin thinking differently

Following exams and mid-winter some of our students may be facing some challenges with their mental health. 

In this blog (which will be published in the Insider’s Guide next week), UC Health Counsellor Dennis Mills encourages students to consider changing their thinking. As you read this blog you will find contact details – UC Health is an excellent start for referring students. You don’t need to be an expert – listening, referring and following up will help.

Begin thinking differently. I have never yet met a depressed person who did not think negatively.

I’m not saying that negative thinking is the whole cause of depression, but it is a major factor contributing to the condition and to keeping the depressed person down. Consistent negative thinking has a kick like a mule, it exercises such a devastating effect.

You are what you think. We have the choice of working for or against ourselves in almost every situation.  This principle also applies to what we take in through our conscious mind. Just as our bodies respond to right feeding, so our minds respond to being ‘fed’ constructively. We all know what the end result is if we indulge in a diet of food without much nutritional value over a long period of time. Yet many people mentally ‘feed in’ a diet of negative, self-defeating thoughts for years, and then wonder why they feel depressed, inadequate and unsuccessful. It makes sense that we can be only what we are thinking.

We establish thought habit-patterns according to how we are thinking on a thought-by-thought basis. A habit-pattern can be established surprisingly quickly, often within a few weeks. We are creatures of habit; this is why we fall into a certain way of doing things, a particular way of acting or thinking in such a short time. It is the thought-by-thought build-up that establishes the habit pattern, in the same way a repetitive action over a period of time establishes muscle memory.

One of the biggest dangers about negative thinking is that we usually are totally unaware of what we are doing. Thought by thought we build up a pattern of thinking that is destructive, without sparing a thought for the effect it may be having on us. Negative thoughts are like a slowly developing illness, creeping up on a person without their knowledge or awareness.

When a person forms the habit of thinking optimistically and establishes a pattern for doing so, certain things begin to happen. They usually start to feel more confident and often find that they are handling stress-making situations in a better way. They develop a more realistic outlook on life and begin to enjoy it more. They tend to adopt a more relaxed frame of mind and may also become more self-motivated. Things which they previously felt were beyond them they now see as more within their reach; because of this they are able to accomplish more.

Facts and resources:

  • How do I get help? Click here for UC Health or click here for get help information from the Mental Health Foundation NZ. 
  • All Right? tips for Healthy Thinking. Click here>
  • Depression and anxiety disorders are very common. In the 2011/2012 New Zealand Health Survey, 14.3% of New Zealand adults (more than half a million people) had been diagnosed with depression at some time in their lives, and 6.1% (more than 200,000 people) with anxiety disorders (including generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read more here>
  • Men’s Health and depressions – what it is; treatment options #MenStartTalking  Click here>
  • General support for students at UC – click here>