If you are struggling with depression, you know all too well that it can be a heavy, discouraging, hopeless feeling.
Depression can affect one’s quality of life in many ways. It can affect one’s relationships (difficulty communicating with loved ones or connecting), work productivity because of lack of interest, tiredness, motivation, quality of sleep (either sleeping too much or too little), and nutrition to name a few.
It is always recommended that you consult your doctor or a mental health professional if you are struggling with depression. They can recommend medication, therapy, or another method of treatment in order to get you feeling like yourself again.
There are, however, a few coping strategies that may bring you some relief from your symptoms right now, and making use of these strategies alongside professional treatment can help you start to feel like yourself again.
Take A Look At Your Lifestyle
Making certain lifestyle changes can work wonders for your moods and emotions, and these changes can make a world of difference when you are dealing with depression.
Here are some ideas of where to start:
- Improving sleep and diet
- Staying connected with loved ones
- Keeping a gratitude diary
- Volunteering with those in need
- Exercising regularly (even something as simple as taking a short walk outside every day)
- Getting outside and enjoying nature
- Getting involved with your local neighborhood or community
- Practicing mindfulness
Depression can cause one day to blur into the next, and can result in you losing all motivation to complete daily activities. A routine, however, can help you get some structure back into your days, and can help you differentiate between the days. Setting some kind of routine, no matter how small, can help you get back on track.
Furthermore, maintaining a regular meal schedule and making sure to include well-balanced meals can support your energy and give you a mental boost. Skipping meals and leaving gaps in your diet can take a toll on your overall health and wellbeing in many ways, so bringing some regularity into your eating patterns may help you out.
Sleep and exercise, too, are important factors in your mental health and overall wellbeing. Oversleeping or undersleeping can both wreak havoc on your mind and body, so you should make sure to stick to a schedule that allows you to get those recommended eight hours of rest. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day in order to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Additionally, making sure to take some time out of the day to move your body and get some form of exercise results in a boost of endorphins, which are known as feel-good chemicals. Regular exercise may help your brain rewire itself in more positive ways, and it can be as simple as taking a walk a few times during the week.
The Importance of Staying Connected
A critical part of overcoming your depression is making sure to get support from the people around you. Depression can be a very isolating and lonely experience, so it is important for you to consistently work at staying connected with the ones you love.
Taking part in social activities and getting in touch with the people around you when you need a friend can help you feel comforted and supported, and these people may also give you the motivation you need to keep pushing.
There are a few different approaches you can take when it comes to staying connected:
- Turn to the people in your life who consistently make you feel safe and cared for
- Prioritize time spent face-to-face with the people you love rather than just shooting them a text
- Even if you do not feel like socializing, push yourself to take part in some social activities
- Find ways to support other people, as this has been shown to provide a huge mood boost
- Care for a pet, whether it is yours or the pet of someone close to you. Pets can bring you joy and companionship, and if your lifestyle is well-suited for a pet, it could be a good idea to get one of your own.
- Opt for a support group, which may reduce your feelings of isolation
Practice Being Present
Mindfulness, too, has been shown to have a positive impact on people struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health difficulties. You can practice mindfulness in many different ways, but some common practices include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
The main goal of mindfulness is to become more in tune with your mind and body in the present moment rather than becoming caught up in thoughts of the past or the future.
There are three main benefits of mindfulness that have been recognized:
- Becoming more present to the self, and learning to pause, identify, and respond. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of the present moment, and this in turn gives you more of an opportunity to stop and breathe before you automatically respond to a person or situation. This awareness can give you more choice regarding the way that you respond to something, and this can help prevent negative emotions from escalating.
- Facing your fears and understanding that it is okay to say no. Mindfulness can help you learn to assert yourself and say “no” to certain things in order to lessen your responsibilities, and this in turn allows you to become more in touch with your own personal needs. Sometimes, people may put the needs of those around them above their own needs, and this benefit of mindfulness can help you learn to prioritize yourself.
- Being present with others. Mindfulness can help you be more present when you are with other people, and this can help you better appreciate your time and relationships with the people you love.
Depression can manifest differently for different people, and it can come along with a wide variety of symptoms. If one of the aforementioned benefits of mindfulness touches on a specific symptom that you are struggling with, this can be a good indication that practicing mindfulness may be beneficial for you.
Reach Out To A Professional
While coping methods and strategies can help you out to some degree, depression can be overwhelming, and it is always suggested that you seek professional help if you are struggling with depression. Research has shown that the most effective treatment of depression is the combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication.
Here at Brightside, we offer a free online assessment that allows us to begin evaluating your needs and concerns, and then we match you with a mental health provider who will be there to help you every step of the way. Your provider will work with you to craft a personalized treatment plan that may entail medication, evidence-based therapy, or some combination of the two that can help you feel like yourself again.
We work hard to get you the depression care you need and deserve, right in your pocket and in the comfort of your own home.
Depression can significantly affect your quality of life and your ability to complete daily activities like working or communicating with loved ones — if you’re experiencing this, take it as a sign to seek professional help for treatment.
The Bottom Line
If you are feeling depressed, there are certain coping strategies and lifestyle changes that may help you feel like yourself again.
Eating regular, well-balanced meals, making sure to get an appropriate amount of sleep, and taking time each week to get some exercise are all great ways to adjust your lifestyle and give yourself a mood boost. Staying connected with the people you love can also help you feel supported and less isolated.
That said, depression can be tough, and if you are looking for professional mental health support, Brightside is here to help.