When you’re depressed, everything feels more challenging. Simple tasks can become overwhelming. Getting out of bed to do the things you’d normally do can feel like the most difficult task you’ve ever faced. Every aspect of your life is a struggle.
You may feel like there’s no way out or no way to have some semblance of a life, but we’re here to tell you there are some things you can do to cope with your symptoms and improve the quality of your life.
Here are a few simple tips to help you live a full life with depression:
1. Build a support network around you. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to someone about your depression. Tell your loved ones and be open and honest about what you need from them. You’d be surprised how much the simple act of telling someone can help you go about your day and make you want to live your life. Develop a strong social support system. Knowing you can count on them to help may be key to improving your depression.
2. Find ways to reduce your stress. When you’re experiencing stress, your body produces more of a hormone called cortisol. At first, in the immediate moment, it gives you the push you need to cope with the stressor, but long-term, it can cause many problems. The more you use techniques to help eliminate or reduce stress, the more likely you’ll be able to chip away at your depression.
3. Improve your sleep. Sleep and mood are intimately related. Studies have shown that up to eighty percent of people with major depressive disorder experience sleep disturbances. Good sleep habits could be key to improving the quality and quantity of your sleep. Turn electronics off at least an hour before you go to bed. Use dim light to read a book. Only use your bedroom for what it’s intended for. Don’t work in bed because it triggers your brain to associate your bed with stress, not relaxation.
4. Improve your eating habits. There are clear links between what you eat and your mental health. There are many brain-essential nutrients that can affect depression. Improving your diet could reduce your symptoms. Before you make a sweeping change in what you eat, consult with your doctor to make sure you get what you need in the right amounts.
5. Stop negative self-talk and thoughts. Depression plays a large role in your negative self-talk and thoughts. Eliminating those negative thoughts can drastically improve your mood. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy can help alter common patterns of negative thinking to help eliminate depression. If you don’t want to go that route, there are a great number of things you do without the help of therapy. Self-help books, apps, and online courses are a good resource to help you learn about and recognize when it’s happening and can show you ways to make it stop through behavioral changes (see above).
6. Stop procrastinating. The symptoms of depression can make procrastination tempting. Fatigue and difficulty concentrating because of depression are two of the culprits responsible for this. To combat procrastination, set deadlines, manage your time well, get an accountability partner, set alarms, establish short-term goals (even hourly if you have to), and make realistic plans that suit your schedule.
7. Clear out the clutter in your home. Depression makes it difficult to complete household chores, but conversely, having piles of unopened bills or piles of laundry or dishes stacked everywhere can add to your depression. Take control of your chores. Tackle one a day until you’ve got it under control. Even if you have to complete it over several days, taking steps to get it done will go a long way to helping you feel better.
By Laila Simpson