Depression is extremely draining. It drains your motivation, energy and hope, making it extremely difficult to take steps to getting better. However, it’s not impossible to overcome, and it’s important to realise that you can take more control than maybe you realise. In my experience the key to improving depression is to start with small steps and build up. Your depression is not likely to drastically improve overnight; feeling better takes time.
Below, I have written a list of 5 useful tips to managing depression, which I believe can help in your recovery.
Tip 1: Accept your depression
This may come as a shock to you, and you might be thinking that this is the opposite of what you should be doing. However, becoming depressed is very natural for humans, whether it be your gentics, brain chemitry, hormones or enviroment. One thing i've noticed is how our western society doesn’t really allow for depression, and that we must be seen to “keep moving forward”. This is great for our survival as a species but this thinking style doesn’t help when you’re depressed, as it can often lead to a negative view of yourself (“I should be doing better”, “snap out of it”, “Get a grip” etc…), which keeps the depressive cycle fuelled. When trying to accept your depression, it might be useful to:
Tip 2: Set yourself goals
When depression strikes, we often begin to stop challenging ourselves to push forward. It’s feels far easier to stop and withdraw, which is ok as mentioned in tip 1. Nevertheless, it's important to begin to move away from depression and start changing your current outlook. Setting yourself goals such as doing the dishes, making the bed, getting up, driving to work or whatever it may be will help you to build it into a habit that has a positive effect on mood.
A bonus tip is to, once the goal is completed, acknowledge that it’s completed and congratulate yourself, even if it seems small like making the bed. The more you practice giving yourself positive affirmations, the easier and quicker it become ingrained into your way of being.
Tip 3: Take responsibility
Only you can truly improve your way of life. Speaking to a professional, such as a counsellor, can assist in your recovery and provide you with an environment where you gain more understanding of your depression, whilst learning how to manage the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with it far better. However, the motivation and willingness must come from you, you must be courageous and motivated in taking the steps to learn about yourself and your depression to overcome it.
Another important factor in taking responsibility is to make sure that you stay involved in thing you were doing prior to becoming depressed, this will help keep structure and routine in your life. That being said, it may be useful to reflect on when you became depressed, as it could be linked to something you have been doing, which you may need to stop.
Tips 4: Try something new
I just mentioned taking responsibility for thing you did before you became depressed, but maybe it’s time to take up something new to help manage your depression. A few things could include:
Tip 5: Look after your body
This can be difficult when depressed as eating is often the last thing on our minds. However, research shows the link between our physical and mental health and the benefit that looking after one has on the other. I think it's important to first take a look at your current eating habits. Keep an eye on what you’re eating as well as how often, there is a risk of both over-eating and under-eating whilst depressed.
Sleep is also a very important factor and one that depression can often impact. Sleep patterns when depressed are very subjective, for some people, being depressed makes them withdraw and stay in bed for hours, for others, no matter how hard they try and get to sleep they struggle. Sleep can be a very complicated subject when mental health and wellbeing is concerned and one I may write about in the future. That being said, I would suggest aiming for around 6 - 10 hours (adults) and 8 - 10 hours (teenagers).
These are my 5 useful tips on managing depression. I hope you find them useful and please feel free to share them with friends and family who may benefit from them. Also, you may find it helpful to read my thoughts on Understanding and Improving Anxiety.
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