The first step is to learn how to use “mindfulness” skills.
When you are using mindfulness skills your focus is on what is happening around you, in this very moment. Your mind is not focussing on judging or evaluating, or on thoughts like “am I doing well enough?”, “is my mood better today?”, or “I think I’m feeling worse today, it’s happening again”. You are not worried about how things are going, or about what has already happened. You are not feeling guilty about things you have done or should have done or worrying about how things will be in the future. These thoughts and worries and judgements take up too much time and energy and keep you in the cycle of depression and alcohol or other drug use.
Rather, when using your mindfulness skills, you will change gears. You will switch off this automatic mode, and focus on what is happening right now, where there is no need for monitoring or evaluation. In mindfulness mode, your focus is on accepting and allowing thoughts and feelings to happen without feeling the pressure to change them.