Tips to Help Yourself Out of Depression: Keeping Bad Moods at Bay
Over the last decade, depression rates have spiraled so much so that approximately 1 in 4 Americans will experience Major Depression at least once in their lifetime. Even with these staggering rates, however, 2/3 of those suffering from depression never actually seek treatment. That being said, with Mental Awareness Month still visible in the rear view mirror, here are some tips to help yourself out of depression.
Going through a depression can be hard, but having the right resources and knowing what you can do to help yourself out of depression can be really helpful. Below you will see 10 tips to try when you start to feel blue.
Tips to help yourself out of depression
What are you thinking?
When you are depressed it’s easy to tell yourself “I’m a failure”, “I can’t do anything right”, or come up with reasons why positive thoughts are invalid. This sort of black or white, over generalised thinking encourages cognitive negativity rather than promoting positive thought, which perpetuates depressive swings. Instead, challenge your negative thinking and focus on what you are doing right. Concentrating on even the smallest things that go well in your day can remind you of your resilience and capability.
Who is “Your Person”?
This isn’t merely a Grey’s Anatomy quip- isolation and loneliness really does make depression worse. Humans are social animals, and cultivating emotional connections is important for getting the help and support you need to combat your depression. Whether it is just a person or multiple people remember: reaching out does not mean you are weak. Call up someone you trust, make dinner plans, get a workout buddy, and talk to them face to face- even that little bit of human interaction can keep the depressive fog at bay.
What’s your schedule look like?
If you don’t have a schedule, get one. If you have a plan for the day, it will give you an active role in your life and help you recapture a sense of control. Get a piece of paper the night before or open up a word document and plan out tomorrow. What are you doing after you wake up or before you go to your yoga class? What time are you doing to bed? Morning, afternoon, and night- making a schedule can help you assess your productivity and give you a sense of direction.
This isn’t really a question as much as just a very strong suggestion. Michelle Obama may have started the Let’s Move! Campaign to combat childhood obesity, but exercise is just as effective for mental health as it is physically. Exercising is a consistent, powerful tool for reducing stress, releasing endorphins, and breaking you out of the cyclical negative thoughts that nourish depression. Understandably not everyone loves being a gym rat, but you don’t need to be. In the schedule that you’ve hopefully now made, punch in 30 minutes everyday to walk, swim, dance, or do another activity you enjoy. Not only will you get a steady release of endorphins, but also you’re more likely to stick to it.
What’s in your body?
Everyone loves a good junk food binge when they are feeling down. But what you put in your body can actually be making the depression worse. Too much caffeine, alcohol, trans fats and other foods can adversely affect your mood. Eating too much candy, brownies, or whatever else is your go-to comfort food can ramp up your sugar only to make your energy and mood come crashing down shortly. Avoid these- you want to elevate your mood not drag it down. If you are of the persuasion, however, that instead of binging on goodies loses your appetite, do not skip meals. Not eating at regular intervals, such as every 3-4 hours, can leave you feeling drained and irritable.
Tips to help yourself out of depression: Food and nutrition
What makes you happy?
Or rather, what used to make you happy? Depression can make activities that you used to find fun and exciting seem dull. Ignore it. Make yourself do things even when you don’t want to- whether it is picking up an old hobby, reading an old book, reconnecting with old friends. These things used to make you feel happy and if you give it a chance again, you will gradually start to remember why. Give these old loves a chance to lift your spirits again.
Do you do the little things?
In an age where no one seems to have time, little things like getting 8 hours of sleep a night, getting some sun every day, and using relaxation techniques can help make each day a little brighter. This will help alleviate stress, elevate your mood, and relieve depressive symptoms.
If you find that these lifestyle tips aren’t enough, considering getting professional help. Once again, remember reaching out to someone does not make you weak, and that depression can be treated. If seeing a therapist, joining a support group, or seeking medication is what will keep the depression at bay, keep those options open. But don’t forget these tips as they, in conjunction with professional help, can help make bad days seem less hopeless.
Deepti is a writer that specialises in neuroscience and psychology. She is passionate about modern medicine and finding other therapeutic techniques, and how both of these effect the developing brain. Deepti is extremely interested in the future of mental health awareness and treatment, and is always open to advice.