5 Things You Can Do Now to Fight Depression
Depression hits below the belt. It talks trash. It calls you names. It controls your thoughts and beats you up. Depression wants you down, wounded, suffering blows that keep your moods black and blue.
Have you had enough?
What’s your best defense? Retreat? Rage? Depression counseling? Medication?
How can you battle your way back when the weight of your emotional circumstances makes you feel like a loser already?
First, you should know that depression can be overcome.
No matter how the daily fatigue, sadness, or powerlessness jab you, you deserve to feel better. Suffering is not the sum of your life.
Depression is not who you are, it is what you are dealing with!
You can fight depression, and you can start right now.
1. Alleviate Depression with Acceptance.
You will not win back your peace of mind without first acknowledging the threat. This is more than feeling down. This is deeper than the blues.
You’re exhausted, apathetic, and withdrawn. You barely have the energy to think about what it takes to fight your own thoughts and emotions.
You begin to win the battle inside you just by admitting to yourself that something is really wrong. Wrong enough to face it and find a way to overcome.
Mental health is improved first by increased awareness and acceptance. Admitting now that you need a better way to heal is crucial. No more burying your feelings, masking them to get through the day, or hiding them behind anger or beneath the covers. Your depression exists.
It is not an indictment on your character, faith, or worthiness. It just is. And now that you look it squarely in the eye, you can acknowledge it without buying into the lies it tells you about yourself.
Stand up for yourself. It may be a little scary but depression weakens in the face of the clarity that follows acceptance and the will to fight back.
2. Refute Depression with the Right People
Reaching out may feel unsafe when depression keeps you a prisoner inside your own mind. Withdrawal and a sense of worthlessness can keep you from supportive relationships and the best healing possible.
The truth is, you need people in your corner. That’s the way it is. It’s the way we’re built. When we deny ourselves compassion, care, and understanding, we suffer greatly.
Understand that depression is not likely to dissipate by itself. The help of a professional trained in depression counseling is essential for your best chance at a full recovery. Working with someone who has a firm grasp on your fight, and the tools necessary to defeat it, will help you construct stronger mental defenses.
In addition, take time to seek out non-judgmental loved ones or friends who can help support you. Despite what depression wants you to believe, you are worth knowing and fighting for.
Take just a few moments to return calls or texts you’ve ignored. Make a coffee date or invite someone to watch a movie.
You may even look into a support group of people working through their symptoms or their own depression counseling sessions. Do something today to break down the wall of isolation and the false notion that you’re meant to be alone.
3. Push Back Clouds of Depression with Less Tech & More Time Outdoors
It may seem too simple, but studies show that we’ve become chained to our technology, couches, and desks. It’s taking a heavy toll on our bodies and minds.
Spend more time chasing the sun. Getting outside helps lift your spirits and breaks the cyclical negativity pummeling your thoughts.
Try leaving your phone, tablet, or laptop inside while you step onto the patio or simply near an open window. Forgo Netflix, social media, or Xbox gaming marathons. Breathe in the greenery and fresh air. Listen to the Miami rain, ocean, wind, or crickets.
Connecting to the outdoors communicates to your suffering brain and body that the world is bigger than you and your troubles. It doesn’t matter what the outdoors looks like where you are. It’s enough to engage nature, feel alive, and feel concretely connected to the world again.
4. Decrease Depression with Routine
Depression deflates and demoralizes you. Motivation and inspiration are replaced by negative rumination and lethargy if you don’t have a way to combat them.
Working to establish a regular routine now can help you construct your time and thoughts intentionally. This way, depression has less opportunity to bully you with attacks on your self-esteem and energy.
What does a routine look like? Train your mind to fight well with the following tactics:
Sleep. Without quality rest, your mind is too affected by dark, negative moods. Prioritize rest and relaxation without using sleep as an escape or succumbing to insomnia. Practice good sleep hygiene and talk to your doctor if you need help rectifying disturbed sleep cycles.
Eat. A wealth of recent research implores us to do better by our brains and guts nutritionally to help decrease depression. Science supports the idea that whole, nutrient-rich foods, especially Omega-3 fatty acids, help stabilize moods. Immediate reduction of sugary foods, caffeine, and processed items is also important.
Move. Little by little, regain control of your body. Wake it up, build it up, and protect it from depression. Daily aerobic exercise for just 15 minutes a day has been shown to elevate mood and self-esteem. It profoundly improves resiliency and outlook and counteracts the bodily stresses of depression.
Implement your routine as soon as possible. Try rising at the same time every morning and penciling in recurring coffee breaks and morning meetings. Consider daily workouts before lunch, running errands after work, and cooking a wholesome dinner before your regular bedtime.
Depressive thinking takes up less mental space when you’ve got places to go and a schedule to keep.
5. Plan for Mental Victory
When you’re depressed you don’t see a winner in the mirror. You feel low; worse, you think you deserve to feel low. Just telling yourself you’re awesome won’t work. You’ll have to layer your mental wins. In effect, teach yourself to see the winner in you.
How? Ease depression by setting incremental goals. Work your way up from “get dressed” to “meet Mom for coffee” to “drive to Miami for a depression counseling session.”
Use your limited energy carefully. Don’t overextend or beat yourself up. As you accomplish small things, reward yourself, and be thankful for what you can do. Stick to small, steady victories. Soon, your motivation, self-esteem, and pleasure will begin to build and life will take on more color.
Depression is a formidable opponent. But it can be beaten. When you are sick of suffering, you’re ready for change. Take your first steps now.
This is a fight you can win.
If you feel like you’re stuck in the cycle of depression, let me help. Click here for more information on depression counseling.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with people struggling with powerful issues such as depression, addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, and work life balance.