Mental health is very crucial and everyone needs to keep up with good mental health irrespective of what may be. Depression not only drains you completely emotionally and mentally but also has major physical effects and can make you feel fatigued and weak. The physical effects can be so bad that you might not be able to gather the strength to pick yourself up to seek help. In times like that,know that you are important and matter. Know that depression is very common and affects a lot of people. Each day the disorder might seem different.
There are many little things that you can do to feel more in power in the situation and better yourself. I understand how incredibly unrealistic “snap out of it” sounds but you need to know that you are the best you will have and try and incorporate the things mentioned below.
The very first steps are the hardest but once you start, you will start feeling better soon. These are all scientifically proven and would make you feel better eventually.
Connect with people and reach out
If the aim is to overcome depression, you need to reach out for support because it is very difficult to maintain a healthy outlook when you are depressed and you need the efforts and keep up with it. It is understandable that the nature of depression makes it very difficult to reach out. You might feel neglected or guilty that you have neglected relationships or might want to do that, or even feel too exhausted to talk, but that is only the depression talking. Staying connected and being social would instantly change your mood and is definitely not a sign of weakness.
- You can find solace in people you feel secure around
- Make it a point to video call someone and keep them updated and talk it out
- Support others because research has shown that when you help others, you automatically feel uplifted
- You can participate in support groups for depression
- Bring home a pet and care for them.
Do things that will make you feel good
You need to feel relaxed and energetic enough to keep yourself going. For that, you need to follow a lifestyle which makes your health a priority and manage stress and set limits and do not burden yourself. It is understandable that you cannot force yourself to feel happy but you can put in extra effort into doing activities. It definitely would not lift your depression immediately but eventually, you will start to feel better. Go back to your former hobby, go out with your friends, take a day off and go out and visit places.
- Get 8 hours of sleep. It is proven that sleep problems are very prevalent in depression and how you feel is largely affected by how little or more you sleep. Move to a better and healthier sleep schedule.
- Do not stress yourself. Stress is known to trigger depression and majorly worsens it. Make a list of all the things that cause you stress- irrespective of whether it is monetary, toxic relationships, over working at office and find ways to regulate it and relieve the pressure.
- Employ relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques, if done daily, can reduce stress significantly and boost your mood. Practice yoga, deep breathing or even little things like writing down how you feel and see how you can better it.
Try to exercise
It is understandable that when you are depressed, you would not even have the energy to pick yourself out of the bed, let alone exercise. Studies have shown that exercise fights depression very effectively and regular exercise is a great medication. Not only does it relieve you but prevents relapse when you feel better. You do not have to go big and do a 30 minutes routine on the first day. Start small with a 10 minutes walk and progress towards the recommended 30 minutes routine.
- Research has shown that your energy levels see a significant improvement when you keep up with exercising and you do not feel fatigued.
- It is proven that exercises that are more rhythmic have major benefits for depression, so you can stick to walking, swimming, martial arts, dancing or weight training or anything that would cause you to move both your hands and legs.
- Be mindful of your movements. If your depression is rooted in some unresolved trauma, or is kept up with because of negative notions, pay a lot of attention on how your body feels when you move- feel your feet when you walk or hit the ground, or the wind noises or focus on your breathing.
- Exercise with someone. Not only is that a good time spent socializing, but having a partner to exercise with, makes you want to keep up with it, because they constantly push you to do better.
- Take care of pups or walk them. It is absolutely alright is you do not own a dog, you can care for homeless dogs for a rescue group. Not only would you help yourself but the dogs.
The way you feel is directly linked to what you eat. Limit caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, or foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones like some meats and more, basically food that would adversely affect your mood and brain.
- Quit skipping meals. Make it a point to not not go long without eating and focus on having little meals throughout the day, because not eating makes you feel irritable and sad.
- Reduction in refined carbs and sugar. Make it a point to cut out the feel good foods, which instantly make you feel better and also quickly lead to a crash in your mood and energy- like french fries or ice cream or cake.
- Better your B vitamins because a deficiency of those, like folic acid would trigger depression. Take vitamin supplements with B complex, and consume more of leafy greens, beans, citrus fruits, eggs and chicken.
- Consume food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, because they help stabilize your mood. Have fatty fishes like salmon herring, mackerel, anchovies or cold water fish supplements.
Sunlight is known to improve your serotonin levels, so whenever you find the time, go out and expose yourself to the sun for a minimum of 15 minutes everyday.
- Take a walk
- Take up gardening as a hobby, because watching trees grow would help you feel better
- Exercise outside- take walks in park and expose yourself to the nature or try hiking
- Open blinds or drapes or sit next to the windows and make an effort to have more natural light
- Make use of therapy light boxes if you stay at some place with lesser sunlight. You could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, where the little daylight hours lead to depression. It can make you feel starkly different from how you feel in the summers but know that there is a lot of things you can do to feel good throughout the year.
Oppose negative thinking
Depression makes you have a very different perspective about life and the way you opine about yourself. When these notions overwhelm you, it is essential to remember that these are simply- cognitive distortions- a symptom of depression which leads to pessimistic attitude and outlook. You cannot snap out of the pessimistic frame of mind simply by reminding yourself to think positively. What you should do is see and identify what kinds of negative thoughts feed your depression and cancel it out with a nicer and more balanced approach.
These are some of the irrational things you might think-
- You do not look at the grey areas and look for either black or white- if it is not impeccable,it is a waste.
- Give a bad experience the power to generalize everything- one bad test means you will fail the semester.
- Filtering out the good and focusing on the negatives- added extra salt in a perfectly cooked meal, what a disaster.
- Constantly jump to negative conclusions- he did not reply and hates me now.
Once you understand the self destruction opinion patterns, you can challenge them with certain questions like-
- How is that true?
- Is there any alternate explanation for this?
- What would I tell my best friend if she did this?
- How would I see this if I did not have depression?
If you have employed all of these self care tips and still find it difficult to see any progress or are not getting better, you might need to consider and seek professional help.