Depression can make you feel helpless and hopeless. Lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, and low self-esteem all drag you down. Learning how to fight depression is challenging. Ironically, your symptoms make it hard to take action or seek the help you need to feel better.
It is important to remember that depression is highly treatable. In addition to depression counseling and in some cases, medication, you can also fight back on your own. Different ideas work for different people. If you try something and it does not work out, try something else. If you are suffering from depression, try these tips to help you feel better.
Reaching out to others may seem difficult, but talking to someone is a powerful tool for fighting depression. The key is asking for what you need.
- Seek support from a trusted friend or family member. The person you choose may not have the answers to your problems, but he or she should be a good listener. You need someone who focuses on you and does not judge.
- We have so many ways to keep in touch, and it may seem easier to send a text or use social media, but nothing can replace talking to someone in person.
- Push yourself a little. Depression may make you want to avoid social contact, but being around others usually helps. So don’t cancel that movie date, or stop going to your club meetings. Remember that people care about you.
- Help other people. It is good to ask for help, but it is also good to help others. Studies show that volunteering actually makes us happier.
- Join a support group. You may think the last thing you want to do is listen to other people’s problems. But give it a try. You may find that people who are also struggling with depression are kind, supportive and have a deeper understanding of the problems you deal with.
Studies show that exercise increases endorphins and stimulates norepinephrine, which helps with the symptoms of depression. Don’t worry if you are not a star athlete. Even easy, slow-paced exercise, such as walking or yoga, have the same effect. The best part is, mild exercise can be done almost anytime and anywhere.
- Rhythmic exercise, such as swimming, or dancing, is especially beneficial. Try to do something in which you move both your arms and your legs.
- Try to exercise for 30 minutes each day, but even short periods of exercise are beneficial.
- If you are not in the habit of regular exercise, it can be difficult to start, but keep at it. Slowly your energy levels will improve and so will your symptoms of depression.
Research shows that meditation has a positive effect on mental health. Anyone can try meditation, but it becomes easier when you do it regularly. If you are just starting to practice meditation, try guided meditation, available in many phone apps or audiotapes. If your mind wanders, don’t give up. Just refocus on your meditation.
You may enjoy combining physical activity, meditation, and nature. One experiment in Japan involved participants walking either in an urban setting or a forest. The routes were equal in all other respects. During the walk, the participants physical and psychological states were assessed. The results? Those who walked in the forest reported improved moods and had lower heart rates than those who walked in urban environments.
Do Things That Make You Feel Good
- Remember what it felt like to enjoy yourself, or have fun? Think of something you used to enjoy, or perhaps one you always wanted to try. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find your inner artist. The arts are a tremendous outlet for emotions. You can try your hand at drawing, painting, or pottery. Write a letter to yourself, or keep a journal.
- Music has proven beneficial to our mental health. Keep music in your life. You may enjoy listening to old favorites, or even recordings of nature sounds. Singing or playing a musical instrument also releases endorphins. It doesn’t matter if you are good. Just dust off your old guitar or harmonica and let the music work its magic.
- How long has it been since you had a good laugh? Like deep breathing, laughing relaxes your muscles and increases the oxygen in your bloodstream. Plus it puts us in a better mood.
- Perhaps you just need to be kind to yourself. Maybe you need to wrap up in a warm quilt or get a massage. Settle into a comfortable chair with a favorite book. The goal is to feel better, even if only for a little while.
Try to get a proper night’s sleep. Depression and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. You may be sleeping too little, or too much. Either way, it is not good. Find your best sleep routine and stay in it.
Eat a healthy diet. Keep sugar and refined carbohydrates to a minimum. Make sure you are getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Eat regular meals and don’t skip meals.
There is no fast or easy way to deal with depression, but it is not impossible. Start by taking just one positive step at a time. Pay attention to what works for you and be gentle with yourself. Over time, you will build a toolkit to help you fight your depression. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, contact us.