1: Create supportive relationships Getting the support you need plays a big role in lifting the fog of depression and keeping it away. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. But the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness make depression even worse, so maintaining your close relationships and social activities are important. The thought of reaching out to even close family members and friends can seem overwhelming. You may feel ashamed, too exhausted to talk, or guilty for neglecting the relationship. Remind yourself that this is the depression talking. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. Turn to trusted friends and family members. Share what youre going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the help and support you need. Try to keep up with social activities even if you dont feel like it. When youre depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell. But being around other people will make you feel less depressed. Join a support group for depression. Being with others who are dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. 10 tips for reaching out and building relationships Talk to one person about your feelings. Help someone else by volunteering. Have lunch or coffee with a friend. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly. Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together. Call or email an old friend. Go for a walk with a workout buddy. Schedule a weekly dinner date. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club. Confide in a counselor, therapist, or clergy member. 2: Take care of yourself In order to overcome depression, you have to nurture yourself. This includes making time for things you enjoy, asking for help from others, setting limits on what youre able to do, adopting healthy habits, and scheduling fun activities into your day. Do things you enjoy (or used to) While you cant force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can choose to do things that you used to enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark. Develop a wellness toolbox Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. Include any strategies, activities, or skills that have helped in the past. The more tools for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if youre feeling good. Spend some time in nature. List what you like about yourself. Read a good book. Watch a funny movie or TV show. Take a long, hot bath. Listen to music. Take care of a few small tasks. Play with a pet. Write in your journal. Do something spontaneous. Push yourself to do things, even when you dont feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once youre out in the world. Even if your depression doesnt lift immediately, youll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems. Whether youre sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Make sure youre getting enough. Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Fight depression by managing stress Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Identify your stressors. Figure out all the things in your life that are stressing you out. Once youve identified your stressors, you can make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact. Go easy on yourself. Many depressed people are perfectionists, holding themselves to impossibly high standards and then beating themselves up when they fail to meet them. Battle this source of self-imposed stress by challenging your negative ways of thinking. Plan ahead, if you know your stress triggers and limits, you will be able to identify and avoid many landmines. If you sense trouble ahead, protect yourself by dipping into your wellness toolbox and saying no to added responsibility.
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