Depression is an issue that numerous people deal with on a daily basis. If you suffer from any form of depression, you are not alone!
There are many ways to cope with depression and these methods will give you practical tools to minimize its effects. First, you will have an easier progression towards recovery if you accept that there is no overnight solution and that taking small steps is the best tactic to win the depression war. When you suffer from depression, simple and/or small tasks might seem overwhelming so remember to simplify them by breaking them down into acceptable “pieces.” Once you achieve these individual wins, you will feel more confident and motivated to take on the more complex tasks.
Here are a few specifics methods to help you cope:
Physical exercise will elevate your blood pressure to a point, helping spark up some endorphins and releasing adrenalin into your body. This is an excellent way to combat the sluggishness that depression causes. But exercising might seem like a huge undertaking and you might not be willing to take that on. So as you are moving about your day, consider the steps that you take as you meander through the day. Each of those steps to the shower, coffee maker, out to the porch to retrieve the paper and back to the table to sip on that coffee and read the daily news. These are all activities that can help you get your blood pumping. At first, you may need to concentrate on the physicality of those steps and learn how to make them count. As time progresses, deliberately add physical challenges to these routine activities to make them more challenging. For example, if you climb down a couple of steps to pick up the newspaper on the porch, try going up and down a few more times than usual. Staying active is critical in conquering depression and the key here is not to necessarily run a marathon, but to continuously push yourself until you are leading an active lifestyle.
When you are depressed, you might not have the proper tools or release mechanisms to deal with stress so working towards minimizing it is a very important coping technique. The first step is to consciously identify which events or situations cause you to be anxious or stressed. Pay attention to things such as workload, unhealthy relationships, taking on too much, and health problems for example. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact. Again, don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, adopt a systematic approach by working on one item at a time. Whether it be focusing on a health problem by paying special attention to your eating habits or distancing yourself from a negative influence, try conquering the easiest items first so when you have to tackle the most challenging ones, you have already eliminated some stress factors.
You will be much better prepared to deal with the hardships of depression, if you are well rested. Allotting specific amounts of time for sleep can be a powerful tool in fighting depression. As a general guideline, adults require 6-8 hours of sleep, whereas teens and young adults tend to fare better with no less than 7 hours and no more than 10 hours of sleep. Extra naps during the day can lead you into erratic sleep patterns that will hinder the recovery process. Remember, when it comes to sleep, structure and consistency are your friends.
Spend Time Outdoors
Sunlight can help you improve your mood and will aid in Vitamin D absorption which encourages less fatigue. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that you are spending a minimum of 15 minutes outdoors every day. A few suggestions would be reading a good book in your backyard, walking around your block for some added physical activity or identifying an outdoor hobby such as gardening.
Spend Peaceful Time With Yourself
Learning how to clear and relax your mind will help improve your mood and will aid you in making better decisions. Try implementing deep breathing techniques, Yoga, or meditation into your daily regimen. You may just amaze yourself at how simple, slow methodic movements and deep breaths while quieting your mind will pull you out of the dredges of depression!
Eat Depression Combating Foods
Certain foods can help you fight depression by enhancing your mood or can intensify the lethargic feeling from depression by causing energy crashes. Make sure you eat mood boosting foods, like ones containing vitamin B, such as citrus fruits, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. Complex Carbohydrates such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas can boost serotonin levels without a crash. Also, try and minimize the sugar and refined carbs in your diet. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Foods rich in Omega 3’s can also have a positive effect on boosting your mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold-water fish oil supplements. Canned albacore tuna and lake trout can also be good sources, depending on how the fish were raised and processed. These are great ways to boost your ALA fatty acid intake but make sure to eat them only one or two days a week to reduce the risk of ingesting Mercury or other toxins.
Seek Medical Advice
Now that we’ve discussed how you can help yourself by eating properly, getting adequate rest and exercise, there is one other component that you need to consider and that is seeking medical advice. There are several levels of depression from “My boyfriend broke up with me”, to “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, to “I don’t ever want to get out of bed again” to even more extreme cases. Doctors and Psychologists have the ability to help you not only understand the causes of your particular type of depression, but will help determine the best treatment for you and to assist in you getting your life back on track! It is noteworthy that many people get incredible results from taking a prescribed medication or a combination of medications to help balance out the physiological & psychological effects of depression. Seeking medical advice should never be associated with shame or embarrassment. Put to rest any notions that you are the first person to have depression and rest assured you will not be the last!
Now that you have some specific techniques to minimize the effects of depression, you may want to kick it up a notch. Here are some very simple ways to add exercise to your day: take the stairs rather than the elevator, park your car in the farthest spot in the lot, take your dog for a walk or pair up with an exercise partner. Short, 10 minute intervals of activity will help improve your mood. Scientists haven’t determined exactly why exercise is such a potent antidepressant, but evidence suggests that physical activity triggers new cell growth in the brain, increases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and endorphins, reduces stress, and relieves muscle tension—all things that can have a positive effect on depression. Aim for 30 minutes of active time during part of each day! Also, music can have a profound effect on your mood and ultimately enhance or discourage depression. Upbeat tempos and positive & energetic, yet rhythmic sounds really give the brain a workout. It just might help you want to take that walk around the block! Be well and treat yourself kindly!
This article was written by @Cliff_Bouvier, lifelong sufferer of depression. I live my life today as a positive and upbeat person who meets the challenges of every day with an attitude of gratitude! I sleep at least 7 hours every night, eat 4-5 small healthy meals a day and get a minimum of 4 days of exercise at the gym and allow for 15 - 30 minutes of time outdoors. I also have been on anti-depressants for the last 25 years with no major incidents of depression. I do occasionally still deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder as I live in new England and our winters can be brutal! Loving life!
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