When depression hits, it can hit hard. It might arrive suddenly out of the blue, or it can slowly sneak up on you over days or weeks.
One day you are feeling o.k., and then you notice that your mood has slipped.
You might find yourself with:
- Low motivation
- Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Sleep problems
- Poor concentration
What should you do if you start to realize that you are feeling depressed?
Here are some practical tips. I hope they help you feel better. :)
When Depression Hits, Focus First On Actions and Behaviors
Depression saps motivation. For example, even the idea of taking active steps to help yourself feel better may seem futile. However, you can find some ways to take what I call ” antidepressant actions.” One place to start could include stepping away from screens and getting out into real life. Or, call a friend and go for a walk. You could also get to the gym and do some cardio or strength training.
For example, “Steven”, a client of mine, tells me how he has to trick himself into walking. He describes how he rarely feels any motivation to get out and walk for exercise. But he knows from experience that he will feel better after he has walked for about 15 minutes. How does he trick himself? He sets the timer on his watch for 10 minutes. During the first ten minutes of his walk, he counts his steps to distract himself from how bad he feels. Sometimes, he calls a friend as he walks.
Counting steps is enough of distraction from his depression thoughts, and acts provides enough of a support to get him going.
We are multi layered beings. It’s important to deal with the foundation layer- your body and physiology. Our bodies form the foundation of our minds. For this reason, it’s important to do something to help it.
Spend Time Outside To Ease Your Depression
When depression hits, you might have the urge to just stay insides, lying around in bed or lounging on your sofa. While we all need and deserve some down time, too much can drag you down. Many people who suffer with depression will tell you that getting outside into the fresh air and sunshine can lift your mood.
Get Into Therapy And Heal Your Depression
Good therapy helps.
People recover from depression.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to tough it out alone. Often, the voice of depression will convince us that it’s better to deal with things on our own. Shame will convince us to hide away and avoid letting others get to close. But remember, it’s often isolation that keeps depression stuck in place.
Our brains get better at anything they practice, and this includes depression. A good depression therapist can help you feel better, avoid the chance of future depression relapse, and help guide you
When Depression Hits, Take Out A Paper and Pen
Some of my clients find it helpful to do directed writing and journaling. One person I work with swears that when she finds herself getting depressed, writing in her gratitude journal can help slow and even stave off her depression. What exactly does she do? She writes for 15 minutes per day, listing out things that are going well, or even are just acceptable. She includes the small but important details of her life. For example a recent items on her list said “I like that my company has free high end coffee available in the break room. It’s a luxury I enjoy.”
This clients is using her gratitude journal to help her break the negative rumination that typically comes with her depressive episodes.
Another client reports that he writes in a more analytical manner. Having previously done some cognitive behavioral therapy, he tries to use his writing to get a less depressed view on things. He starts by “spilling his guts” on paper. Then he brings his journal into our therapy sessions, and we analyze them. Together, we identify some of the embedded, implicit beliefs that fuel his depression. He also does some of this work at home. It’s doing this, that helps him question his thinking and increase his perspective beyond his depressed mood.
Remember It Will Change
You won’t be depressed forever. Moods come and go. Recently, a woman I work with said this: “When I get depressed, now I think of it like getting a cold. I remind myself that I have to take extra care of myself for a few days. I baby myself, but I also do things that are going help me recover my health.”
I hope some of the above ideas help you.
Would you like to learn how I help clients with depression? If so, please visit my depression therapy page.