When you feel depressed it feels like nothing is going right. I’ve experienced depression in the past and I know the warning signs. Self-criticism increases and my thinking takes on a negative hue. Withdrawing from others and hunker down for the ‘storm’ ahead is another one of my usual reactions. I’ve had thoughts that the world is against me – clearly unhelpful!
Depression is debilitating. Ignore anyone who is ignorant enough to tell you to “pull yourself together” or “move on and get over it”. It’s just not that simple and it’s usually someone who has never been depressed who says something like that.
The good news is that depression is manageable and even curable.
Here are my top tips for when you feel depressed
Acknowledge your depressed thinking
When I feel depressed, I know not to trust my thinking. Depression distorts your perceptions and your view of the world isn’t accurate. Negative thinking is the order of the day when you’re depressed. Accept that your brain is slightly ‘pickled’ from the hormonal imbalance and don’t pay your thoughts too much attention. Feeling like the world is out to get you and there everything is hopeless is very common when you feel depressed.
Focus on your behaviour
Get out of your head and into activity. Some individuals sleep more when they are depressed. It isn’t uncommon to sleep late into the afternoon as a way to escape thinking and feeling miserable. Depression hijacks your healthy thinking and unhelpful behaviours tend to emerge. If you tend to sleep till 2pm, try getting up half an hour earlier. If that seems too hard, try just 10 or 15 minutes. Small steps can be all it takes to start to shift the negative mindset.
Set yourself small goals to achieve each day. even if you only manage to get up 15 minutes earlier and brush your hair and teeth, it’s a start in the right direction. It isn’t always about your speed, as long as you are going in the right direction.
Behavioural activation are keywords that many therapists use when tackling depression. When we behave differently, this automatically shifts the way we think. The more we do, the better we will feel. Research has proven this repeatedly. Depression makes doing things seem almost impossible. In order to get the momentum going, you may have to force yourself initially. baby steps does it. You don’t need to climb Mount Everest, just a walk around the block would be okay for starters.
Depression cripples your brain. Doing more, increases dopamine and the endorphins you need to ease your depression. Trust me, it works. Attend to your personal hyginene as a minmum, This will start the process of easing depression and improving your mood. Go for a walk, phone a friend if you feel you can. Watch a movie. Keep that mind away from your negative thought processes.
The worst thing you can do is have too much time on your hands. A stagnant depressed mind is a recipe for serious mental health issues. Our minds can lead us down destructive paths if we stay stuck in our heads. “What if” thinking increases and soon we have written off our futures and feel even more hopeless than before.
Integrate your values into your daily activities
When you integrate your values into your life, these fulfilling activities give you a sense of meaning and purpose. Living a life in line with your values acts as a natural anti-depressant. You may feel too fragile or not have any motivation to pursue your values when you are depressed but you can start small.
If you like being creative, you could paint or knit or do something that brings out your artistic flair. Read a book if you enjoy learning, even if you can only manage a few pages at a time. Concentration can be impaired when you feel depressed.
Go for a walk in nature if you like the outdoors. You may be someone that enjoys socializing but don’t feel up to talking to others. Why not go for a walk in a park. There will be other people there but you won’t feel any pressure to interact with them or put on a happy face if you aren’t ready. If you feel good when you look after yourself, attend to your self-care at home by doing something extra.
You can increase your effort in various ways without feeling too overwhelmed. You do need to take a leap of faith though and sometimes give yourself a pep talk to get the momentum going.
Counselling for depression
Depression is increasing and knowing how to manage it is a key like skill that should be taught in schools. We often don’t help ourselves when we slow down, isolate ourselves and ‘buy into’ our negative thoughts. Remind yourself that you won’t always feel like this. Take care of yourself and get the necessary help if you need someone to nudge you and lend a hand in getting you back on your feet.
So many of us feel depressed during our lives. my depression comes and goes and I know how debilitating it can be. The way that I view the world changes and the joy and pleasure I used to feel is temporarily misplaced. Have faith that life will return to the way it was before. If you try the above tips and find that your depression isn’t shifting after 2-3 weeks, get in touch with a mental health professional. Sometimes, we need that extra nudge to help pull us out of the trench.
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling—that really hollowed-out feeling.” —J.K. Rowling