10 Simple Tips To Help Fight Depression
Depression can strike at any time. For me, it's usually around this time of the year, as we slowly exit winter and start approaching spring. I am not really sure why, but I start getting sad, pensive and withdrawn and everything seems like a chore. It's like a dark cloud of heavy thoughts descends upon me and I can't seem to get out from under it.
I used to believe that going through depression would bring me some great, deep insight. Thinking that I'm just supposed to suck it up it and endure the process, I was waiting for an epiphany. I can now tell you there there is none. There is no great revelation at the end of it. What I do know is that feeling good is the most important thing for my body and my mind - and depression does not make me feel good.
Over the years, I have learned to recognise when my depression kicks in. I notice the first signs of it, and know that this is just what happens. This helps me in overcoming this period of sadness by taking action and introducing the tools I will share with you. I have gathered these over the years, and hopefully they will be useful to you, too. This is as much a reminder list for me as it is advice to you. Please see a professional if you're suffering from depression.
1. Breathe: Take deep, slow breaths, in and out. If you can breath, you are fine. Breathing deeply and slowly will calm and ground you. That's a great first step.
2. Meditate: If you can breathe, you can meditate. When you're depressed, you may seem like a slow-mo version of yourself - but your thoughts can be racing at a perilous pace. The best way to slow them down and get some relief is to meditate. I used to think that meditation is a complicated, mystical thing with a steep learning curve. It turns out that there's nothing easier than sitting down, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. That's it. That's all you need to do, and you only need 5 minutes. You can follow this simple meditation video, use apps like the Mindfulness App or Buddhify to help guide you, or download free meditation tracks from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. The positive effects of meditation have been confirmed by numerous research studies.
3. Exercise: Do you want better metabolism and muscle tone, enhanced mood and healthier-looking skin? The benefits of regular exercise have been widely documented. I know that when you're feeling down about yourself, you may not want to go and work out. Let's be honest - the act of exercising is not always fun, but the rush of positive energy and feel-good hormones you get when you're done more than makes up for it. Exercising will also help you sleep much better at night, which is an added bonus.
4. Shower: A nice long shower can do wonders for you. I love feeling fresh and invigorated after I take my shower. It's almost as if the water cleanses your skin, taking with it some of the negative energy in the process. Taking a shower when you get up in the morning will set you up for the day ahead and put you in the right mindset for getting on with things, which then seem to have an easier flow. This is especially important if you work from home - having a shower and getting dressed for work in the morning will help you get things done even if your home is your office.
5. Eat: Remember to eat healthy, wholesome foods that are good for you. Fill your plate with fresh, organic vegetables and make yourself a yummy juice or a smoothie, giving you a burst of energy for the day ahead. Taking care of yourself when you're depressed includes eating regular, nutritious meals. You deserve it.
6. Declutter: Make room for brand new energy to flow into your life by decluttering. Both you and your dwellings will breathe easier, and the difference that can make to your happiness and productivity is huge. Start small, covering one room at a time. If you have a hard time letting go of things you haven't used or worn, imagine how happy they'll make someone who will actually benefit from them. Plus, getting rid of things you don't use or need will make you feel so much lighter.
7. Reach out: When you're feeling down, your knee-jerk reaction is to withdraw and isolate yourself. Even though this is counter-productive, it's a very common reaction to being depressed. Reaching out to people who care about you can bring some sunshine in your life when you need it. I know what it's like to be depressed and think that nobody cares or understands how you're feeling. We tend to expect people to know that we're in need of help. The problem is that not many of us can read minds. We're all preoccupied with our own issues, dramas and problems, but that does not mean that we don't care. We just don't know what goes on in each other's minds unless we communicate that clearly. Your friends and family need to know how you're feeling in order to be there for you. Call them up. Send them a message. Write a letter. Whatever works for you, but reach out and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Saying that you're in pain and in need of support is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of great strength allowing others to carry you when you're too weak to do it yourself. Put your pride to the side, and let people into your life. Tell them how you feel and what you need from them. They will be there for you.
8. Help others: Sometimes feeling good can come from doing something that does not focus directly on us. Do good to feel good - support your favourite charity or volunteer for a cause you believe in. Taking some focus off of yourself and being of service to others is a win-win situation.
9. Read: There are some amazing books that have inspired me and lifted me up when I've needed it. They are full of wisdom, kindness and understanding. Try: "Ask and it is Given" by Esther Hicks (UK/US), "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay (UK/US), "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie (UK/US), and "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown (UK/US). These books have explained and clarified how my thoughts affect me and how I can change the way I react to things, giving me the strength to ride through those dark nights of the soul.
10. Smell: Via our sense of smell, essential oils can enhance our emotional state by directly interacting with the part of the brain known as the limbic system. The limbic system controls our basic emotions and our mood. It's been proven that the more pleasing a certain fragrance is to you, the more effective it is in influencing the limbic system. Choose something that you enjoy smelling - for some people it's the aroma of white chocolate, for others it's rose, and certain people like lavender. You can also Use Essential Oils To Infuse Your Clothes With Natural Aromas, taking their effect even further and making it last longer. You can also benefit from the positive effects of essential oils by treating yourself to a DIY Home Beauty Spa.
You can use as few or as many of these tips as you want. Try them. Put them to the test. These straightforward pieces of advice may seem simple and trivial, but that's exactly what you need when you're feeling down. It's so easy to forget what actually works when you're depressed and small steps can make a big difference. Pay attention to what makes you feel good, and then do more of that. Stay away from people, places and things that are not conducive to your well-being. If reading the newspapers every morning stresses you out, stop doing that. Sad songs that make you cry? Change the tune. Your well-being is the most important thing right now.