Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.
Posted: March 27, 2014 by Chad Ernest, MS, LPC
Feeling depressed? Try out some of these simple tips and you may find yourself on the road to feeling better.
1. Brighten up your surroundings. Stop sitting in the dark. Got the shades pulled and the lights off? Open those shades and blinds, let the sun in and turn on some lights. When depressed, we seek the dark and it ends up reinforcing the depression. Confusing your body about whether it’s day or night can mess up your sleep patterns make depression worse.
2. Join a group. A recent study in the Journal of Affective Disorders highlights the effectiveness of belonging to a group to help combat the symptoms of depression. Feeling like you are alone only reinforces the depression. Find a group that you can be a part of. It could be a depression support ground or any activity that you have wanted to try in the past.
3. Eat as healthy as possible. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is not far off. It is more like, “you feel what you eat.” If you eat a lot of junk food, fast food and sugary snacks, instead of feeling happy, you’ll be lethargic and a feel weighed down. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetable can make you feel full of energy, and inspire you to get up and move around.
4. Focus on the present. Stop focusing on the past. When your thoughts are orientated to the past, you are likely filled with regrets, self-doubt and guilt. Past thinking makes us beat ourselves up. We replay something that we feel may be a mistake in our lives over and over again, continuing the cycle of guilt. Want to correct that mistake? Then do something today to change how you think and feel about it in the present.
5. Laugh and smile. Sure, you’re not feeling it now, but find some funny videos on YouTube or watch a standup comic. Watch cute puppies or kittens or babies tasting lemons. To find out more about the health benefits of laughter, check out this link.
6. Take care of yourself. We often forget that showering, brushing our teeth, dressing up, or cleaning our room or house can help us feel better. The very act of taking care of yourself can give you a refreshed feeling. Sometimes knowing whether or not you are doing these little tasks for yourself can be a warning sign of how depressed you might be. If you are taking care of yourself properly or can’t get out of bed or off the couch, you might want to seek help from a counselor.
7. Talk to someone. Don’t isolate yourself. Talk to a friend, a family member, a neighbor or a professional counselor. Sometimes connecting with others and hearing about their lives can put yours into perspective.
8. Recognize how you cope with your symptoms. Coping is the way that we have learned to deal with our emotions and the stressors in our lives. This list is full of coping ideas. Make a list of things that you do to cope with your symptoms. Include both positive and negative coping skills. Negative coping skills are things like overeating, drinking too much, using non-prescribed drugs or anything that you feel might not be a healthy way to deal with issues in your life. The idea is that you can use the list to create more healthy alternatives for yourself and utilize more of the positive coping skills in the future.
9. Set yourself some small short term goals. Pick one or two of the things on this list to do for yourself on a daily basis. Celebrate the success of doing them. If you miss doing them once or twice, don’t beat yourself up. Try again the next day and celebrate yourself for doing it. It is the daily small successes that lead you to feeling better about yourself.
10. Get up and get moving. Not feeling motivated? Guess what, after you get up and start moving, motivation will kick in after about 60 to 90 seconds. Ever start doing a chore after putting it off? Have you noticed that you don’t mind getting the chore done after you get going? Getting started is the hardest part. If you are thinking about doing something, get up and get started even if you aren't feeling motivated at the moment.
Tags: mood and feelings