It is one thing just feeling unhappy, and quite another thing feeling depressed. Unhappiness may easily pass, as it is mostly a temporary phase. Depression, on the other hand, has a way of eating into your mind and soul and keeping you trapped in a certain emotional state that seems to brew sadness constantly – even when you manage to crack a smile on your face. According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. And, as if that isn’t enough, about 800,000 people lose their lives due to suicide every year. But the good news is that it is possible to overcome depression. As difficult as the situation is, there are ways to help alleviate the symptoms of depression, aside from seeing a professional.
- Practice mindfulness
Depression is a common mental disorder that plaques its patients with a loss of interest in pleasure, low moods, and even feelings of guilt. Thus, one of the best ways of overcoming its hold on the mental state is by practicing mindfulness – better still, positive mindfulness. Depression and sadness usually focus on the negatives in every situation and find it very difficult to see or even acknowledge the positives – hard as the person may try. This negative state of mind only ends up reinforcing the misery and makes it difficult to overcome. Practicing mindfulness involves keeping one’s focus on the present moment – every sight, sound, and touch. It also helps keep the mind distracted from the negative thoughts. It’s important to note that this will require a lot of practice, but will pay off immensely with time. Plus, the effects are lasting.
- Be careful what you watch or listen to
Whether we believe or not, the kind of stuff we watch or listen to plays a huge role in determining our mood. If you spend your time listening to sad songs or watching negative news every day, the chances that you’re going to be stuck in a sad mood are very high. On the other hand, listening to upbeat music all the time and watching movies, videos, news, or documentaries that fill us with laughter and positivity usually ends up relaxing our minds and keeping us in a positive mood. Thus, it is important to only consume materials that will bring a smile on your face and uplift your spirit. So, spend time watching comedies that will make you laugh really hard. You know what they say about laughter being a medicine, right? And keep upbeat music droning through your speakers as often as you can. This helps to alter brain chemistry and improve the mood. Some have found that keeping the positive memories of loved ones they have lost in the form of cremation urns for kids, children, and babies or even adults, gives them something positive to focus their thoughts on.
- Use touch therapy
Touch therapies such as massage therapy have been proven to be very effective for not only helping to relieve physical pain, but also improve the mood, with lasting potential benefits for treating depression. Touch therapy heals by lowering the stress hormone known as cortisol while increasing the ‘feel-good’ hormone known as oxytocin. When combined with other treatments such as reflexology, reiki, massage, acupressure, and acupuncture, touch therapy has proven to be a very effective good mood stimulant.
- Stay away from negative self-talk and company
They say misery loves company. And unfortunately, most of the time, misery attracts the wrong kind of company – negative people. But that is nothing compared to negative self-talk. People battling depression usually put the blame on themselves when things go wrong. And when things go right, they usually credit it to luck. And this ends up reinforcing a false sense of self worthlessness. Such people usually convince themselves that they are not any good.
This is why it is absolutely important to monitor not just your thought process, but the kind of words you speak when you are depressed. If you’re finding it hard to adjust the way that you talk to and about yourself, it might help to speak to a professional. A counsellor can give you the tools to adjust your self-talk. You can see a counsellor in person, or you could seek help through online therapy and counseling.
It is also equally important to stay away from people who help to reinforce those thoughts. Keep reminding yourself that the negative thoughts that come your way are only a reflection of your current state of mind and not a reflection of who you are. Do your best to speak positivity into your life and only allow people who will do the same around you.
- Distract yourself
You need to find ways to keep your mind busy as often as possible. It is one of the great ways of stopping yourself from yielding to all the negative thoughts that constantly fly in and out of your mind. And your thoughts can be your worst enemy when you are depressed. If you find yourself alone at home, try distracting yourself by either playing with your pet, reading a book, indulging in a hobby, or going out for a walk to enjoy nature. The big idea here is to keep your mind busy, as it is a very great way of overcoming depression. The less you focus on what’s eating you up, the less effect it has on your mind and emotions. You can also distract yourself with the right kind of company – friends and loved ones who will help you smile and encourage you.
- Write a journal
You don’t need to be a professional writer to write a journal. Doing this may help you in two ways. One, writing a journal can serve as an outlet for all the emotions bottled up inside of you. Sometimes, you may not even know of certain things plaguing your mind until you start writing. A lot of people have been able to lower the effect of depression simply by writing down everything they’re feeling, every time. The second way through which writing a journal may help you overcome depression is by taking your mind off the negatives and paying attention to any blessing you may have in your life. And this is the more important one. Here is what you can do. Start your day by writing down at least five things that you are thankful for in your life. They may not come to you instantly, so take your time to think about the good things happening in your life. This past is so important that you need to set enough time aside every morning, just to be sure that you are not hurrying through it. In addition to this, set enough time for yourself at the end of each day to write down at least five positive things that happened in your life during the day. It does not necessarily have to be exceptionally good things that happened in the day. It can range from something as simple as a stranger smiling at you or the sun kissing your face.
- Get enough sleep
You may think that sleep is a luxury you cannot afford when you are depressed. But it is actually one of the important things when it comes to helping you feel better. Moreover, mood and sleep have a close connection. For example, not having enough sleep is sure to put a person in a bad mood – depression or not. On the other hand, getting quality sleep on a regular basis can help a person feel brand new and rejuvenated. Even partial sleep deprivation can be enough to have a negative effect on your mind and body. Thus, it is important to put in place the right measures to ensure that you get enough quality sleep every day. Doing this will not only help to improve your mood, but it will also improve the quality of your life in areas such as your emotional balance, mental alertness, creativity, productivity, physical stamina, as well as your weight. One of the ways of preparing your body to have a quality sleep is by exercising.
Exercising isn’t only beneficial for inducing sleep; it is also very helpful when it comes to overcoming depression. According to experts, regular exercise leads to a regular release of endorphins, which do not only help to improve a person’s mood but also improves their natural immunity. Exercising regularly also comes with other health benefits that include protection against heart and heart-related diseases, a lowering of blood pressure, as well as generally boosting one’s self-esteem. You do not need to hit the gym to get the exercise you need. Experts advise that getting about half an hour of moderate exercises such as walking, jogging, or brisk walking about three or four times a day should be more than enough.
- Stress-relieving activities
Sometimes, signing up for a yoga class can be very helpful when it comes to dealing with depression. Most yoga activities help to cleanse the mind of all troubling thoughts and encourage positive meditation. Engaging in such activities can also strengthen your mind’s resistance to the negative thoughts that come knocking. You can either sign up for a physical class or join an online class and practice right from the comfort of your home.
- Eat properly
Eating something is usually a very difficult task when you’re depressed, talk of eating properly, or healthily. But that is what the body really needs during this time – nutritious meals – with a very special focus on the omega-three fatty acids. According to experts, people who are depressed usually lack a kind of fatty acid known as EPA, and adding food rich in omega-three fatty acids helps to remedy the situation.