About this time last year I was really struggling with depression and over the last month or so, I’ve been thinking of what exactly changed or what did I do to dig myself out of that pit. I haven’t really been able to nail it down because it wasn’t any one thing that I did but a variety of tactics, and I’ll try to list the ones that I think really helped.
Of course, as a disclaimer, I’m not a doctor or expert in psychology. These are just my personal tactics and experiences. And if you are suffering from severe depression and/or having suicidal thoughts then please seek professional help.
There may not be any more important thing to do when battling depression than to simply get up when you don’t feel like it. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I had obligations to take care of on a daily basis but there were many days when I would have preferred being alone with my thoughts – and being alone with your thoughts might be the worst thing to do when you’re battling depression.
Finding A Purpose
Getting up is a whole lot easier to do when there’s something task to look forward to that day. The purpose doesn’t have to be some profound, newsworthy endeavor. Actually, it’s probably better if it’s low key, especially if you’re already stressed out and stretched thin emotionally.
It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it interests you and stimulates your mind. Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do or some project around the house that you’d enjoy doing. Making a new flower garden, building a bird house, learning new recipes or how to play the guitar, etc. Just make sure it’s fun and interesting to you. Find something that will require some planning and thought because that will help get your mind out of the rut of depression.
Change Of Environment
I’ve noticed that even when I’m doing really well emotionally, when placed into an environment that puts me back into a mindset that is unhealthy or unproductive for me, I begin to slip again. It’s like I become paralyzed.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative environment that you need to leave. For example, I’m going to begin going to a new church, not because my old one is bad but because I can’t be the person I am today there. I’ve been attending the same church since I was a kid. I’ve grown and evolved as a person but when put back with people who have known me forever, I emotionally and behaviorally revert back to who I was. I can’t break out of that old mold.
Sometimes, you just need new places and faces to get out of a rut.
I volunteer at several different places and it’s a great way to experience new skills and new challenges without having to change careers. It’s also a totally different environment than a paid gig. Yes, you still have to do the job correctly and show up but the motivation is completely different. It’s not about a paycheck and that makes all the difference. Also, I’ve never met a mean, nasty, rude volunteer. Maybe there’s some out there but I haven’t come across any yet. You’re going to meet the best people in your community and hey, you’ll be one of them!
This is definitely something that helped me immensely. Go to the most beautiful parks in your neck of the woods, and enjoy them. It’s easy to forget how amazing this planet and universe is when cooped up with our thoughts in our rooms.
This is another biggie! I always feel emotionally better after I exercise. Always. And I don’t run 5K’s or do anything that drastic. Just a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, or riding an exercise bike in my home gym works wonders. If you’re out of shape, do what you can do. Start small. When I was really overweight, I could only last 10 minutes on my treadmill walking at a ridiculously slow pace. Now I can hike 5 miles without losing my breath. Our physical health makes a huge difference in our mental health.
We Are What We Consume
Be careful about the type of entertainment you regularly watch, listen to, or participate in. Yeah, when I’m really ticked off about something, I’ll listen to a hard rock song to get it out of my system but then I’ll end with more upbeat and uplifting music. Netflix can do wonders too! Watch shows that make you laugh and forget your troubles. Old comedies usually do the trick for me.
Well, I think those are the major things other than one last very important aspect to managing depression and that’s time. Give yourself time. You won’t feel the way you do today forever. I’m not talking about years and years but rather weeks and months because life changes that quickly.
Your whole state of mind will likely be very different given enough time. Today doesn’t dictate what tomorrow will be. I know I didn’t want to hear this advice when I was severely depressed because I couldn’t even imagine feeling better given any length of time, but time is what it takes and time did the trick.
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