If you suffer from depression (or any other mental health issue for that matter), you know just how alone and misunderstood you can feel. And even when people try to help you, they can often say quite the wrong thing, can’t they?
I know how I feel when someone tells me to “shake it off,” or “put a brave face on,” or “try to grow from it.” I would love to, thank you very much, but it’s not like I’m in total control of it. If I could control it, really control it, do you think I would choose to live this way? Do you think anyone would choose to live with a mental health issue, if they could do something about it?
Well, as it turns out, there is actually quite a bit we can do about it. Not that it will ever go away, or that we might feel like we did before, but that’s okay. One of the things we need to accept is that things are now different, and adjust to our new normal, whatever that may be.
For me, it’s accepting that the bad days are much worse than they used to be. I used to be able to be productive on bad days, even smile, get out of the house, live my life. But since I welcomed anxiety and depression into my life, bad days mean nothing gets done. And I am learning to accept that.
Dealing with depression? Instead of focusing on the bad days, try to make them last less time, make them less frequent, and try to make the good days more vibrant.
The thing is – we shouldn’t be focusing on the bad days. We should try to make them last less, make them less frequent, and try to make the good days more vibrant. Here is what I can tell you has helped me, and hopefully, some of these tips might work for you too.
When we are stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol, which helps us get through the situation in the short term. In the long run, however, it means our bodies remain tense, our minds stay bleak, and our days are continuously cloudy.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to cut down your stress hormone levels as much as you can. This will mean making some very difficult choices at times. You may want to stop seeing some of your friends. You may want to change your job even. (And yes, I know just how scary that sounds.)
Whatever it is that’s causing you undue stress – try to remove it from your life for good, and replace it with a happiness-inducing alternative. Practices such as meditation and yoga are also good for helping you build resilience to unavoidable stress.
Sleep is the one thing that our bodies use to heal themselves, recharge, and reenergize for the next day. Without it, your mood will suffer, as will your overall health, and your depression is likely to get worse.
You may think that swapping sleep for Netflix, a friend, or a late-night online shopping spree will do you no harm. But the less you sleep, the less you will feel like yourself.
I know that you might want to sleep, but just can’t seem to get there, and believe me, I understand that completely. I’d suggest removing all electronics from your bedroom, not staring at a screen right before you go to bed, using a lavender-chamomile pillow mist, and playing some soothing music when you go to bed. Calm, the app, has some excellent sleep stories you might want to try as well.
Challenge yourself when it feels right
I know this might sound counterintuitive, but challenging yourself to do something new or scary can be beneficial for your mental health. Just as long as you do it on an up day, not a down day.
It can be anything – going to bed earlier, or getting up as soon as the second alarm rings. Or going for a walk on your own. Making a healthy meal for dinner. Anything, really, anything that will be good for you, and that you may not have been doing diligently in the past.
And once you accomplish this task you have set for yourself, make sure there is a reward waiting for you as well. A reward that is also good for you, no less. You are trying to teach your brain that accomplishing something you may have previously found hard leads to good things. That way, it will put up less of a fight the next time you need it to do something new.
Find the help you need
And finally, don’t let anyone else tell you where to look for help. If you want to look for different ways to heal, do just that. If you want to talk to a reiki master, go for it. If you think hot yoga will help you get rid of some of the built-up toxins and negativity, find a studio nearby.
The thing with depression is that no two people feel it the same way. We may all suffer from the same condition, but our individual road to recovery is unique. Find a routine and a system that works for you – after all, the only thing that matters is making yourself heal, not pandering to others.
Dealing with depression can often seem like a many-headed hydra – as soon as you cut off one head, there grows another one to torment you. But armed with the right weapons, you can turn yourself into Hercules, and vanquish it once and for all.
Have you or a loved one dealt with depression?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
About the Author
Hannah Thomas is a gardening and environmental enthusiast. Garden is the place where she feels most comfortable, that’s why there are always a lot of books and empty coffee cups on the back porch.
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