Ten Tips for Managing Depression
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from depression, it might seem like there is no way to stop feeling sad. Depression has a way of taking over your life, crushing your spirit and hampering your motivation.
Although these feelings often require professional help to resolve, there are quite a few things you can do on your own to mitigate the negative feelings.
Here are ten tips for managing depression:
- Get plenty of sunlight. A lack of sunlight can actually make depression worse, so make sure you go outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Taking a walk is great, but even sitting on a park bench to sip your morning coffee will suffice. If you live in an area where there is not enough sunlight year-round, a light therapy box might help lift your mood.
- Get enough sleep. Although depression might make you feel sluggish, it also has the effect of robbing people of sleep. This is unfortunate because a lack of sleep can only amplify sad feelings. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and avoid naps that might throw your schedule off kilter. You might also try removing distractions like television from your bedroom.
- Get plenty of exercise. Working out can give your endorphins a temporary boost, which will make you feel good. Some studies even point to long-term benefits of regular exercise. Beginning is the most difficult part; once your body is in motion, you will likely find that you want to continue. Take the stairs at work or walk while you’re talking on the phone to get in some extra movement.
- Seek help. Everyone feels down from time to time, but psychotherapy can go a long way toward treating serious depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy can arm you with the tools you need to deal with negative emotions and depressing thoughts.
- Do the things you love. Sitting around and thinking about your problems isn’t going to solve anything. Try to distract yourself by doing your favourite activities. Read a good book, watch a funny TV show, or pick up an old favourite hobby or sport that you enjoyed when you were younger.
- Cultivate relationships. Reach out to other people when you are feeling down. It might be the last thing you feel like doing, but interacting with family and friends or participating in social activities will help you feel less alone. You might even want to join a support group for depressed people.
- Set a routine. Depression can take the structure out of your life, and this can result in excessive wallowing in despair. Setting up a routine to counteract this problem can help. Establish a loose schedule for yourself and stick to it to avoid the feelings of one day running into the next.
- Set goals. It is not uncommon for depressed people to feel like failures. Set small goals for yourself so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment each day. Make sure it is something reasonable and achievable, like writing in your journal, taking a ten-minute walk, or calling a friend each day.
- Challenge negative thoughts. Depression is largely mental, and taking control of your feelings can help steer you on the right path. When you find yourself imagining the worst-case scenario, try to fight it using logic. Is it really possible that you are the biggest loser on earth? Do you have any evidence that no one likes you? Use logical reasoning to chip away at your negative feelings.
- Try something new. When you’re feeling down, one of the best ways to recharge is to try something new. In fact, pushing yourself to do something different can actually change the levels of dopamine in your brain, and this chemical is connected to enjoyment, pleasure and learning. Learn how to paint, sign up for a language class, or head to a museum.
As you can see, there are actually a lot of things you can try to help keep your depression at bay. Engaging yourself and getting enough physical activity and social interaction can all go a long way toward lifting your spirits, but don’t be afraid to seek professional help if your depression persists.