Being clinically depressed and anxiety are the two most common mental health problems that plague Americans today. With a society set on fast forward and lives that must keep pace it is no wonder. But there are some thing you can do to help yourself.
When an episode hits and you’re feeling depressed, no matter what the cause, it is difficult to stay motivated to do anything. That’s the problem because action is exactly what is needed. People who suffer from depression often curl up within themselves and shut out the outside world. But the only way to fight depression is to continue to be a part of the world. You need to focus outward, but it is hard.
The following are ten healthy ways that you can deal with your depression that are proven to provide relief. Try one of them or all of them. The more coping mechanisms you have the better.
- Develop a Schedule
It may seem simplistic to some, but this is a solution that often has benefits that are far reaching. Depression will often completely disrupt your life. You sleep too much, or don’t sleep enough; you find yourself wanting to gorge on food all the time, or you don’t eat at all; you don’t care about anything so you just amble through life without a purpose. Keeping to a schedule can help you get up, eat healthy and find that missing purpose. And it really doesn’t matter how you develop it.
- You can get a planner and keep track of where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to be doing during the day.
- Make an elaborate plan for how you are going to reach short-term and long-term goals.
- Put reminders on your phone.
- Make a habit of writing out a plan for the next day every evening before you go to bed.
These are helpful suggestions, but you may have other ways of keeping a schedule that are more appropriate for you. Whatever your method, keeping to a schedule gets you busy and breaks the depression cycle.
- Eliminate Alcohol
If you are already depressed, consuming a depressant on top of that can be a problem. It is a good idea to completely avoid it. And if you are at a social function where people are pressing you to have a drink, just tell them that you are not drinking tonight. Most people will understand. For those who don’t, your health is more important than anyone’s opinion of you.
- Get Some Exercise
To say that consistent exercise helps defeat depression is like saying that peanut butter goes well with jelly. It is a topic that has been researched so extensively that there is no longer any doubt that the benefits are tremendous. But there are a few questions you may ask.
How often should I exercise?
That really depends on you. If you have not been exercising regularly, it is better to start off slowly. Take a short walk, play with the kids for a few minutes, lift a light weight instead of a fork. If you have been exercising already, just continue what you are doing and stay on a schedule. It is advisable to limit strenuous exercise to five days a week and make sure that you are seeking a doctor’s advice if you are just starting a program.
What exercises should I do?
Personal preference and level of fitness is important here also. But there are a few types of exercise that have been shown to have the greatest depression and anxiety relief benefits. According to an article published by the Harvard Medical School, research shows that walking fast for 35 minutes five days a week or stretching-type exercises (yoga or Pilates) were the most beneficial. However, any exercise program you stick to is helpful.
- Phone a Friend
When depressed, many people retreat within themselves. They don’t want to see friends or family; they want to stay by themselves and wallow in misery. Unfortunately, what many naturally do when depressed is the worst possible thing for them.
To defeat depression it is necessary to defeat natural inclinations. Instead of isolation, health requires that you socialize. See friends and family even if you don’t want to. Go to church, the grocery store, and school, whatever activities you would normally do. Call someone and tell them that you just need to talk. Any type of social activity is helpful and will break the cycle.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
People who are depressed will generally eat too much or too little. They either are too depressed to eat anything, or they need the comfort of food which provides an emotional lift. Neither of these conditions is healthy, but while in the downward spiral of depression it doesn’t seem to matter.
When depression hits, many healthy habits are thrown away. Among them, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can be time-consuming and difficult to manage for even the healthiest person. However, defeating depression requires that your body is able to respond to the stress that has caused the depression. To do this you need to refrain from junk food and soda, eat three healthy meals a day and build habits that will help you fight depression. Eating a healthy diet provides you with the fuel needed to keep your life in balance.
- Get Some Rest
Depression is often situational (though if it is constant you may need to see a counselor to determine if it is of the clinical variety). Events in life often cause people to lose interest in their wellbeing, stop responding to friends and spend large amounts of time either in bed or at least in lethargy. Although depressed people often seem to sleep for many hours, they very often do not rest. Their minds remain active, recounting the situation that caused the depression.
In a famous line from The Three Stooges, Moe instructs Curly to “Wake up and go to sleep.” The same advice would be good for most people suffering from depression. Sleep is needed to get the body back in a normal rhythm, but excessive lying about in self pity is not. To get the healthful rest so needed to combat depression, the individual needs to work through the reasons they are depressed so that they can rest effectively. Lethargy is not rest. If you are sleeping too much, you probably have not dealt with the issue and are probably waking up tired even if you slept for 12 hours. Talk to someone and confront the issue. Only restful sleep will help.
Depression is a selfish state. The individual is very inwardly focused while they try to either understand why they are in a funk, or work out the problem(s) that are at the root of the depression. Because depression causes inward focus, getting out and volunteering allows you to change the direction of your perspective.
It really doesn’t matter where you volunteer either. Go to an animal shelter and walk the dogs. Hospitals always need people for various activities and they always have room for volunteers. Libraries need people to shelve books, the Salvation Army needs bell ringers, your church may have a ministry they would love to make you a part of. Look in the local paper or contact a local television station. There are many ways to find volunteer opportunities. But the main thing is to think about others and stop thinking about yourself.
- Get a dog (or cat, fish, bird, lizard, chinchilla, tarantula…)
Pets are very therapeutic. According to a WebMD article pets can “reduce tension and improve mood.” Why are they so effective? Pets:
- Provide you with something to take care of. If you are alone during the day or if you live alone, a pet needs your care to survive. Having something to care for is a great way to fight depressive feelings.
- They give unconditional love. Pets love you for who you are because you care for them. They are ready to share their affection without consequence.
- They can sense your depression. Pets are used to detect cancer tumors, warn of oncoming epileptic episodes and many other amazing jobs. They are also used as comforters for people who have PTSD. Animals have an amazing sense of your emotions and are willing to provide you with comfort when they sense it is needed.
No matter what type of pet you desire, the simple act of giving of your time to something else is the key. It gets you outside of yourself for a while and lessens your feelings of depression.
- Write About It!
Maintaining a journal is a great way to avoid depression. If you are consistent with your content, it may help you see danger signs of impending depressive episodes. It is also a way to tell your feelings to someone who will definitely not judge you. Writing in a journal also allows you to express thoughts in a way you may not be comfortable expressing them to anyone else.
Write about how your day went; about how you see yourself during your depression, about why you feel depressed. It really doesn’t matter what you say, just talking about it may make you feel better. You never have to let anyone else see it. Just write for yourself so that you can understand yourself better. But as you write, try to reframe your ideas into something positive, something constructive. Give yourself a break.
- Get Professional Help
Depression is serious business and it may not be possible to overcome it on your own. As a matter of fact, if trying other methods doesn’t work, it is dangerous to stay in your depressed state. Sometimes it is wise to seek the help of a professional who has an empathetic ear. Someone who is trained to help you deal with the load you are carrying.
Sometimes people don’t seek professional help because there is a stigma attached to seeing a therapist. Why should you let what others may say effect your mental health? You are important, so if you need help, go where it is available. No matter where that is. Don’t worry that the therapist will be shocked by your thoughts, they have probably heard about similar situations. Don’t think that they will judge you. Counselors are taught to listen with an unbiased ear. Their goal is to help no matter what shape that takes.
If you need professional help it is available in your area. Don’t continue to wallow in depression, seek help. If you are not able to overcome your depression by yourself or with the help of friends and family, look into talking to a counselor. You can always reach out to an admissions counselor at Nsight Psychology & Addiction. If we can’t help you, we will help find you someone who can. It is a proven help. Call us at (888) 557-8091.