By Trafalgar’s Editorial Team
This Content is Created By Kinga Burjan, M.A., R.P.
Mental Health: Coping with Depression
Today’s video is about coping with depression. Before we start, I’d like you to know, though, if you have had prolonged depression or clinical depression, make sure that you are working with a professional alongside of applying the skills that we’re going to go through today.
So one skill is to avoid isolation. It’s very common to want to isolate when you’re feeling depressed because you don’t feel like talking to anyone, but it’s actually important to try to force yourself to go out or at least interact with other people because staying in an isolated state will actually amplify those feelings of depression.
So a little alone time is always helpful and can be good to recharge and to self-reflect. However, extended periods of isolation are actually not good for our mental health. So be creative. If you can’t get outside to interact with people, you can always join an online group. There are peer support groups, their therapy groups and just hearing about other people’s experiences and learning about what they’ve been encountering and how they’ve overcome things can make you feel less alone and normalize the situation you’re going through.
Exercise and Self-Care
Exercise and self-care are so important for our overall mental health, regardless if we have depression or not.
So exercise not only physically benefits you, but there’s a lot of research that highlights the positive mental benefits. So even just 30 minutes of walking a day positively impacts your mental health and help decrease depressive symptoms.
In addition, if you give yourself that task of getting up in the morning to go for a walk, you prevent oversleeping, which can also influence how you feel during the day and heighten your symptoms of depression. So, practicing good sleep hygiene, waking up at a decent time in the morning and also watching what you eat can help your mood.
Avoid Junk Food
For example, if you eat junk food, then most likely you’ll feel not optimal during the day because your body’s not getting the fiber and the nutrients that it needs. So making an effort to eat better will also affect your mood and how you feel.
These are things to consider overall. And you don’t have to make all these changes at once, even if you just start with one that can have a positive impact.
Being aware of how we think about things and how we think about ourselves can play a big role in our depression. So cognitive reframing is taking some of the negative thoughts you might believe about ourselves and actually changing them to more realistic and positive thoughts.
Most people, when they’re depressed, can have thoughts around feeling helpless, hopeless and worthless.
So what happens, though, is these negative thoughts kind of block the other evidence of positive things in our life and can distort reality, and they might even blow some of the things out of proportion. So when this is the case, it’s important to challenge those negative thoughts towards something that’s more realistic and more positive.
For example, if you are worried your partner is going to leave you, you might feel and think that you’re going to die if this partner leaves you. However, reframing the thought to a more realistic and more positive thought can be: “I might be sad and most likely I’m going to be sad and lonely if she leaves me, but eventually I can learn to move on”. Everybody does.
Positive self-talk is a practice of telling yourself you reframe positive statements on a regular basis, just like any habit, practicing it over and over again with time and practice, positive self-talk can be an effective way to alleviate the symptoms of negative thinking and therefore help with alleviating some of the symptoms of depression.
Sometimes depression can feel like being in a state that’s goalless. Life might seem meaningless or boring, and it’s important to think about what we want to do with our life and set some simple, smart goals. Life is so much more meaningful when we have something to strive for.
It’s OK to start small, but once you start making small strides in a positive direction that will compound and create greater motivation and in fact help you improve your mood. So, for example, if you’re unemployed, you can get a small part-time job or even volunteer. And this can make a difference when it comes to getting through a depressive period and preventing them from coming back.
Keeping Your Hope Alive
Keeping your hope alive, so this is similar to goals, it is important to have some things and events and to look forward to. So don’t be shy about planning a vacation, getting some concert tickets, setting up a date to get together with a positive influence, saving up your paychecks for a treat for yourself once a month. These types of things can be a difference and make a difference during those times where life feels stagnant and hard.
Spirituality and Purpose
Spirituality and purpose, regardless of what you believe or don’t believe in, it, can be inspiring to cultivate your sense of purpose in life. Helping other people or even helping animals can feel purposeful and give you an improved outlook on your own life if you do have spiritual beliefs or even a small bit of curiosity. Consider looking deeper into those beliefs. You may come to find something that resonates well with you and helps you change your perspective about your current situation.
Increase Positive Exposure
Being mindful of what’s around us is important because negativity can be contagious. Oftentimes, there are negative people in our life that are unavoidable, perhaps they’re at work, perhaps we live near them, or they might even live with us. So even if you can’t avoid these people, just knowing who they are can help safeguard you against letting them bring you down and letting them not get to you. It isn’t easy. Sorry. But by learning to be assertive and how to avoid getting baited into arguments or drama, you may be able to save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief. And grief in itself has very similar symptoms of depression. Along the same line, thinking, if you know of anyone who builds people up is encouraging and supportive, do your best to get yourself increased exposure to these people, particularly during your times of stress and depression.
If you’re experiencing prolonged depression symptoms, so depression symptoms for two weeks, please reach out to your doctor, psychiatrist or therapist to help you better understand your situation. You might even want to do a physical if you haven’t done one in a while to rule out any underlying biological factors, such as a B12 or iron deficiency. Remember that you’re not alone and that there is help out there. Please know that you are worth that first step to take in your life.