Depression is a debilitating mental illness that drains your energy, depletes your hope and makes routine tasks, like getting out of bed, become a mountain in itself. Overcoming depression is hardly easy or quick, but it is absolutely possible, no matter how severe the depression may be.
There are things within your control to ease the symptoms of depression; the key is to start small and celebrate milestones along the way. When you make positive choices for yourself everyday, no matter how hard or exhausting it may be, you will soon find that the burden you are carrying is a little lighter and your heart full of a little more hope.
Here are 5 things you can do to cope with depression today:
- Reach out to a trusted friend. A person who cares about and understands you is lifeline of hope and absolutely essential if you are to overcome depression. Even though it can be difficult to seek support because of exhaustion, guilt or shame, staying connected will make world of difference to your recovery. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to regularly see a trusted friend who you can talk to with complete ease and confidentiality, and who can check up on you when you withdraw or isolate.
- Give yourself things to look forward to. A study has shown that people get an emotional boost when they have something to look forward to in their calendar. Planning a trip, buying concert tickets or arranging a fun get-together with friends are all ways you can plant seeds of hope in your life. On days when you feel especially down, you have assurance that something good and exciting is awaiting you in the near future.
- Move and nourish your body. Studies have repeatedly shown that exercise is a powerful antidote against depression and feelings of anxiety, and can be just as effective as medication to ease symptoms. While getting out of bed can be a daunting task in itself, moving your body just 20 minutes per day—whether through yoga, walking or swimming—reaps plenty of benefits for your mind, body and soul. It is also vital to couple exercise with a healthy diet; that includes refraining from alcohol, junk food and caffeine, which tend to aggravate feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Re-work your thought patterns. Depression has a way of shedding a negative shadow over everything, including your outlook on yourself and your future. However, it’s important to remember that these distortions aren’t necessarily realistic or true. You can start by identifying and questioning the negative thought patterns that are contributing to your depression and replacing them with positive, balanced affirmations instead. An example of this could be turning a thought like, “I can’t do anything right and am a complete failure,” to “I am learning and growing everyday.”
- Do things that you make you come alive. An important part of self-care when you are depressed is doing things that you enjoy and promote relaxation, like reading, watching a funny movie or taking a long bath. This also means setting boundaries on things that tend to drain you and making more time for life-giving activities instead. Hobbies like playing music, creating art or taking a hike up the mountains will gradually bring more energy and joy into your life again. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take classes to potentially discover new hobbies.
Sometimes, you can do all these things and still feel your depression worsening. If this happens, it’s essential to seek professional help like the confidential and affordable therapy services BetterHelp offer. Their licensed counselors are trained to support you in your feelings of depression and guide you to recovery.
Even if you do seek professional support, keep doing these self-care practices as part of your treatment plan. Feeling better takes time, but with persistence and hope, the heavy fog of depression will one day lift and reveal a healthier, happier you.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.