While there are many obstacles in the world as it currently is, one issue more and more people have been dealing with is depression. It’s important to look at depression for what it is: a disease that can impact every aspect of your life. You may regard depression as a condition relating to mental health, but make no mistake: it can have physical and emotional impacts as well. If not addressed and treated, depression can be extremely detrimental to your health, well-being, and productivity.
So how do you manage depression? For some cases, therapy and medication are the only remedies. There are some other shorter-term steps you can take to help mitigate the impacts of depression on your life. Below are a few best practices on how to overcome depression.
Note: the following does not constitute medical advice. While these can help improve your mood or disposition, clinical depression is an illness. Consult a doctor or mental health professional if you’re suffering from major depression that is affecting your life. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) offers a free national helpline as well: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Talk to someone
One of the best things you can do when you’re depressed is to find a qualified mental health professional to talk to about your problems. “Talk therapy” is the practice of discussing your problems with a therapist. It can help to relieve stress and also get a newfound perspective on your problems. There are many benefits to talk therapy and no downside. If you’re depressed, consider the power of finding someone to talk to about your issues.
Have you ever taken a walk on a bright, sunny day and felt fantastic afterward? That’s because there are proven health benefits to getting plenty of sunlight. Sunlight is associated with a hormone known as serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate our moods and can also help you to feel calmer and focused.
When we expose ourselves to the sun, we get more serotonin, which leaves us feeling generally better. That’s why when you take a midday walk on a sunny day to get some fresh air, you return to your desk feeling much more relaxed and at ease. Sunlight has multiple other health benefits as well. It can help prevent cancer, give you plenty of Vitamin D, and it’s good for your skin as well. The bottom line is that if you’re feeling depressed, the sun can help improve your mood.
Focus on small wins
Depression can be absolutely debilitating. When you have a lot you want to accomplish, feeling depressed can compound your poor mood or bad feelings if you don’t get anything done. That’s why it’s important to focus on the most basic of tasks and set small, reasonable goals for yourself.
When you’re a high achiever, it can be common to attempt to establish a morning routine that packs in early tasks to get a jump start on the day. This becomes difficult when you’re depressed and the most mundane of tasks seems impossible. So start small. Give yourself the objective of getting up every morning, getting out of bed to shower, and getting dressed. Don’t worry so much about accomplishing anything afterward — the mere act of getting out of bed will help get you started and headed in the right direction. Simple acts like shaving, showering, and putting on a clean shirt can be the difference between a good day and a bad one. Focus on the little things first and give yourself credit for finishing them.
Getting some sort of physical activity on a regular basis is almost a non-negotiable aspect of how to overcome depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is a fantastic way to help you deal with depression and anxiety. Here are some common-sense tips you can use:
- You won’t need to overdo it. When it comes to physical activity, a little goes a long way. Light resistance training, walks in the park, or other low impact exercises can be helpful (though aerobic exercise helps too).
- Make it easy on yourself. If you’re working from home, invest in a stationary bike or something that makes it easy for you to work out.
- Focus on fun. If you enjoy a sport like golf, tennis, or basketball, make that your regular exercise activity. If you commit to doing that every day, you’re more likely to stick with it. We tend to be more consistent with the activities we actively enjoy.
You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to participate in an exercise that helps you deal with depression. You just have to get on your feet!
Eat a balanced diet
Your diet impacts just about every aspect of your health and well-being in one way or another, and your mental health is no exception. A poor diet can lead to obesity and other health problems which will only exacerbate depression. Stick with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and protein with whole grains mixed in. Stay away from sugar and processed food as much as you can, and when you do indulge do so in moderation. Don’t underestimate the impact your diet has on your mood and mental health.
Pursue a passion project or hobby for the sake of it
In today’s gig economy, we are a results-oriented culture. With the onset of the “side hustle,” there’s been a push in recent years to turn every hobby, interest, or activity into a profit center in our lives. This can create undue pressure to make money doing something we once did simply for the love of the activity itself.
Having a hobby or interest without a result tied to it can do wonders for your mental health, however. Creative projects like crafting have the potential to significantly assist us as we grapple with how to overcome depression. Whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, or some other form of creative expression, you’ll feel better pursuing something you actively enjoy doing. Focus less on your end result and take joy in the process itself.