1. Go outside of yourself
The most natural and common thing to do when you're feeling depressed is to go deeper within yourself. You can't help it. You feel like you're losing yourself. You just want to sleep. You can't sleep. You're eating all the time. You're not eating at all. Your thoughts are negative. Your hope is fleeting. You're aching from your own feelings or lack thereof. I get it. However, if you want to overcome depression, you have to do activities that get you outside of all that's going on within you. For example, try writing a nice message to a friend, calling someone you care about and asking them how they're doing, volunteering at a local non-profit, or doing a generous deed for a random stranger. The more times you go outside of yourself, the more depression struggles to make its home within yourself.
Putting words to your feelings with pen and paper is powerful. So often the outcome of depressive feelings are avoidance and confusion. Avoidance of the painful feelings and confusion over why you're feeling the feelings in the first place. When we're able to journal honestly about our feelings, we gain a better understanding and clarity of why we might be feeling the emotions. We also learn more about ourselves through the process. It's amazing what you're able to record with pen and paper when you give yourself permission to just think, feel and express. Eventually what you record offers you the awareness and solutions you need to overcome the symptoms of depression. For those of you who HATE writing, you can still enjoy the fruits of journaling by simply jotting down key words or phrases or drawing pictures that represent your thoughts and feelings. Try it out. Amaze yourself with your own ability to face whatever pains you and find viable solutions.
3. Talk to someone you trust
Talking with someone you trust is much like journaling because you're able to fully express yourself, face whatever pains you (without avoiding) and discover new ways to understand yourself and cope. Anytime we express ourselves authentically we shed light on what's hidden in the dark. Talking to someone you trust offers you extra light because this person can help you to see your blind spots, make connections and encourage you to see the little glimmer of hope that's always somewhere on the horizon. Also, let's face it, sometimes we just need a good laugh and positivity. You can leave it to those whom you have positive relationships with to provide just that. Whoever you talk to, whether it's your therapist, friend, grandma, or parents make sure you feel comfortable and free to express yourself (if not, don't bother. It can cause more harm than good). Also, remember that not everyone understands depression, in fact, very little people do unless they've experienced it. So it would be wise to not aim for complete understanding but for someone to hear you out without judgment.
Get active. Go on a walk. Run. Swim. Jump. Dance. Climb. Whatever it is, make sure you're increasing your heart rate and getting your body moving. Why? Because movement is good for the soul. It's proven that movement is able to decrease depressive symptoms. In addition, it keeps your mind more focused on the present moment which helps you better connect back to your body and your environment. It may be difficult to feel motivated to do anything, let alone move from the bedroom to the kitchen but this is a step where you REALLY have to push yourself. Your body, soul, mind, and heart will thank you later, I promise.
5. Listen to music
There's nothing like a great song that can get you feeling a little bit more hopeful, happy and free. Music can help lift your spirit and increase your ability to think more positive thoughts. When you're feeling depressed, it's so hard to think positively. You're basically listening to the Blues on repeat or the saddest Country Western song you can think of. Not helpful nor positive. Avoid these sad songs at all cost. If you need some suggestions check out my Spotify playlist "Stay Positive" linked at the top of my blog. It's guaranteed, at the very least, to cause wonder of the possibility of a life filled with joy and hope.
6. Read Something Inspiring
Whether it's books, poems or quotes sometimes you just need to connect with words that are more inspirational than "Life would be better off without me" or the long list of "I'll never be ___enough" (I'll let you fill in the blank). You need to be empowered. You need to be strengthened. You need those words that make you stop where you're at and re-think. Soul-clenching words that remind you why you're alive. They're out there. Find them and read them. Check-out the "resources" tab on my blog for inspiring poems and books.
7. Connect with your spirit
Remember that thing inside of you that has the power to invigorate you? That thing that awakens your passions and fuels you with purpose? Maybe you forgot about it or haven't seen it in awhile but it's still there. You have a spirit. A spirit that moves you with joy and gratitude, peace and passion. The best way to connect with your spirit is by doing things that stir your spirit such as painting, drawing, being in nature (marveling at life's beauties), meditating, prayer, and spending time with those who bring out the absolute best in you. Whatever you choose to do, remind yourself that this spirit is inside of you and revive it. No matter how empty it feels inside, remember this spirit never leaves- it's what keeps you hoping, believing, climbing, and moving forward to better days.
I hope these 7 things to do were helpful to you and if not, know that's okay. What's helpful for some will not be helpful to others. Managing depressive symptoms is all about trying and striving; Trying new things to help alleviate some of the distress and striving for whatever will get you out of the loss of self-hopeless-tired-influx of sadness rut. When you do find something that works, STICK WITH IT. Consistency is key. Depression always seems to find it's way back but consistency keeps it from stealing your joy, your identity, your energy, and your hope!