Depression is a poorly understood mental health condition. It is often assumed that depression is characterised by feeling low, but the reality is that depression is a lot more profound and complex. It’s natural and normal to feel down from time to time. It’s not normal to go through prolonged periods of constantly feeling anxious, sad and helpless. If you have days when it’s a struggle to get out of bed or you dread the future, these self-help techniques may be beneficial.
Most people are aware of the physical benefits of exercise. However, the mental effects may be less well-known. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and it is also a natural mood-booster. Exercise releases endorphins and it can also boost your confidence and self-esteem. Many people also use exercise as a means of channelling anger, frustration and excess energy. It can also offer a means of meeting new people and pursuing interests and hobbies.
You don’t have to be a gym bunny to reap the rewards of exercise. Try a dance class, do a DVD at home or get out and about and try climbing, canoeing, cycling or hiking. Exercising in the great outdoors can be particularly beneficial. Walking in a tranquil spot, taking in the views and breathing in the fresh air can help to relax and calm you and lift your mood.
Surround yourself with caring people
If you’re battling depression, knowing that there are people around to support you is very reassuring. Spend time with those who love and care for you and those who help to build you up and feel supported and confident. If you have friends or colleagues who make you feel anxious or uneasy, try to keep your distance. When you feel stronger and more positive, you can start to expand our social circle.
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Try to be positive
Depression often causes you to get stuck in a vicious cycle of negative thinking. Attempt to break this by learning to recognise and avoid triggers. Be strong and adopt a positive mindset. Remember that you can beat depression and there are lots of people out there to help you along the way. Coping with depression is never easy, but there are ways of overcoming this illness. If you think you are going to fight it, the chances are that you will be successful.
Having idle time can make even those who don’t have depression experience low mood and boredom. Try to keep yourself busy so that your mind is active. Spend time with friends and family, enjoy days out or devote more time to your hobbies. It can be daunting to try new things when you have depression but if you can pluck up the courage, it will be worth your while. Ask a friend or family member to accompany you if you don’t want to go to a class or event on your own.
Talk to others
Communication is so important. Even if you don’t talk about your feelings or your depression, it’s hugely beneficial to reach out to others and keep in touch. Even a 5-minute phone call to a friend or a chat with your mum can make you feel so much happier. Take time for yourself, but don’t cut yourself off. Keep your friends and relatives close. If you feel comfortable talking to them, they can provide a useful outlet and offer an understanding and compassionate ear. Try to be patient, as depression can be difficult to understand. Be as open and honest as you can.
Sometimes, people feel anxious about talking to people they know about their feelings. If this is the case, seek advice from a counsellor or ask your doctor about local support groups. It can be reassuring to speak to people in the same boat as you. If you feel anxious at the thought of face to face meetings, online forums can offer a less daunting option. Mental health clinics, such as Beachway Therapy Center, run telephone lines and online chat services. These platforms enable you to connect with others. Charities also be very helpful in providing resources and channels to encourage communication.
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Focus on yourself
Try and devote time and effort to doing things that will make you feel better about yourself and increase your self-esteem. Set achievable goals, look after your health and treat yourself. Even the smallest things can make a big difference. A hot bath at the end of a long day at work, or a lunch date with a friend can ensure that you have dates in your diary to look forward to. Try not to get bogged down in other people’s business and put yourself first while you are on the road to recovery.
If you struggle to express your emotions when you are talking to people, try using other methods. Some people write songs, others keep a diary, for example. Writing can be therapeutic. It enables you to get everything out, without feeling like you may be judged, or worrying that you’re making others feel awkward.
Take each day as it comes
While it can be positive to look into the future, it can also cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Take every day as it comes, set yourself targets and goals and stay optimistic. If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up. Try to make sure that you keep moving forward and focus on getting to those goals.
There’s no doubt that self-help techniques can be extremely effective. However, people who have depression often require more intensive treatment. You should always feel like you can ask for help if you are struggling with the signs of depression. There are effective medical treatments and therapies out there. There are also countless individuals and organisations, which are there to help, support and encourage you.