Depression can leave you feeling empty and fatigued. It can drain your energy, hope and drive thereby making it difficult for you to take steps to getting better. Everything feels more challenging when you’re dealing with depression. Going to work, socializing with friends, or even just getting out of bed can feel like a struggle.
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. It is important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling miserable or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.
However, there are small steps you can take to help you cope with depression and feel more in control of your life. Taking the first step is always the hardest. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example.
Here are twelve practical things to do when depressed. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
Learn to love and accept yourself where you are
You should understand that you are not the only one dealing with depression. It affects millions of people all over the world even people close to you. You need to accept where you are right now in your life.
It is important to take your mental health seriously and accept that where you are right now isn’t where you’ll always be. Learn to be open, accepting, and loving toward yourself and what you’re going through.
Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be great. Try to look forward to tomorrow’s fresh start.
Let out your emotions constructively
It may seem like a more strategic way to deal with depression is to suppress your feelings and emotions. But this technique is very unhealthy.
If you’re having a down day, have it. If you need to cry, then cry. Just let it all out. Let yourself feel the emotions — but don’t stay there.
Try keeping a Journal
A study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times over the course of a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality. Plus, writing about stressful experiences can help you manage them in a healthy way. Consider writing or journaling about what you’re experiencing. Then, when the feelings lift, write about that, too.
Depression triggers off a lot of negative emotions. You may find yourself focusing on the one thing that went wrong instead of the many things that went right. Try to stop this overgeneralization. Push yourself to recognize the good. If it helps, write down what was happy about the event or day. Then write down what went wrong. Learn to focus on the positives.
Learn to stop negative thoughts
Depression puts a negative thought on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these aren’t realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up.
You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that becomes so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression, and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking.
A more practical approach to this is, to create a range of positive words about yourself, write them on a sticky note and place it where you can see it all day. Also, creating a playlist of positive music can help stop these negative thoughts.
Build a support network
The importance of having people you can really open up to and talk about what you are going through cannot be overemphasized. One of the most important things you can do to help yourself with depression—other than medication and therapy—is to develop strong social support. This may mean building stronger bonds with friends or family. Knowing you can count on supportive loved ones to help can go a long way toward improving your depression.
You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed of your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook.
Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help.
Set realistic goals
Everyone has big dreams of things they want to achieve and that’s very awesome. Setting measurable and realistic goals help break these big dreams into small achievable tasks. A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that you’d rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting one or two smaller goals.
When you’ve done a small thing, set your eyes on another small thing, and then another. This way, you have a list of tangible achievements and not an untouched to-do list.
Always reward yourself
Learn to celebrate your small wins too. Always give yourself a little pat on the back for a job well-done. The memory of a job well-done may be especially powerful against negative talk and overgeneralization.
All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration. When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it. You may not necessarily celebrate with a cake and confetti, but recognizing your own successes can be a very powerful weapon against the negativity that comes with depression.
Do things you enjoy
One of the prominent symptoms of depression is loss of interest in doing things you enjoy. However, in order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This should include creating a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.
Though you can’t force yourself to have fun, you have to push yourself to do what you enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark.
Improve your sleeping habits
Sleep and mood are intimately related. A 2014 study found that 80% of people with major depressive disorder experience sleep disturbances. Always aim for at least eight hours of sleep every day. Turn off electronics at least an hour before you go to bed. Use dim light to read a book or engage in another relaxing activity. Sleep is a great stress reliever.
Improve your eating habit
What you put into your body can have a real and significant impact on the way you feel. Research continues to find clear links between diet and mental health. In fact, there have been so many studies that have shown improving nutrition can prevent and treat mental illness.
There are many brain-essential nutrients that can affect depression. For example, a 2012 study found that zinc deficiency increases symptoms of depression. Eating a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains may be a great place to start. Try to limit stimulants like caffeine, coffee, and soda, and depressants like alcohol.
Moreover, some people also feel better and have more energy when they avoid sugar, preservatives, and processed foods.
Practice daily meditation
Stress and anxiety can prolong your depression symptoms. Finding relaxation techniques can help you lower stress and invite more joy and balance into your day.
Research suggests activities like meditation, yoga, deep breathing may help you improve your sense of well-being and feel more connected to whatever is happening around you.
- If you are up for exercise, consider a walk around the block. Exercise and physical activity scan be powerful depression fighters.
- Practice gratitude- When you do something you love, or even when you find a new activity you enjoy, you may be able to boost your mental health more by taking time to be thankful for it. What’s more, writing down your gratitude — including writing notes to others — can be particularly meaningful.
- Develop a wellness box- Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for dealing with depression you have, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good; Spend some time in nature, List what you like about yourself, Read a good book, Watch a funny movie or TV show, Take a long, hot bath, Listen to music, Talk to friends of family face-to-face, Do something spontaneous.
- Get a daily dose of sunlight- Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day.
- You may be used to receiving help from friends, but reaching out and providing help may actually improve your mental health more. People who volunteer experience physical benefits, too. This includes a reduced risk of hypertension.
- Get Clinical Treatment- You may also find it helpful to speak to a professional about what you’re going through. A general practitioner may be able to refer you to a therapist or other specialist. They can assess your symptoms and help develop a clinical treatment plan tailored to your needs. This may include traditional options, such as medication and therapy, or alternative measures, such as acupuncture.