Taking care of our mental health is extremely important to thrive in our daily life at home, work, school, and relationships. But, if you are struggling with depression (feeling low emotionally, lack of energy, lacking interest in things, etc), then it has likely become a challenge to thrive in different areas of your life. Read below to start conquering your depression by applying these 4 tips.
1. Explore What The Depression Is Trying To Tell You
With any emotion, there is a need behind the emotion. Emotions show-up in our lives for a purpose and we don’t want to ignore them when they do. So, start asking yourself what your emotions (i.e. depression) are trying to tell you. For example, are you needing a change in your life? This could include a relationship change, occupational change, etc. Or, possibly, you are currently in a transition period in your life, and so, depression is currently being triggered. With change, oftentimes our needs change. May be this need is related to self-care (you need more time for you), may be you need additional support (someone to talk to), or maybe, you need to make changes to how you think about things (i.e. if you are ruminating on negative thoughts and need to add some positivity to your life).
Start asking yourself what your emotional need is when emotions (i.e depression) surfaces so that you can start acting on the things that you need to overcome and work through the emotion.
2. Start Staying In The Present
Depression can be extremely difficult to conquer if we don’t live in the present moment. This can be especially challenging when things from the past are being triggered or when we are continually thinking about future steps (that are no where near the present). To start staying in the present, remember what you can control in the present moment. The past is the past. And unfortunately, we can’t change things that have already happened. So, when your mind starts to wander to the past, ask yourself what is within your current control based on your actions and thoughts. Remember- when we ask ourselves what is within our control, this does not include someone else. For example, we can’t depend on other people to start doing something different.
Additionally, to start staying in the present moment, start practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness focuses on staying in the present moment by becoming more aware of our physical and mental state in the present. Click HERE for ideas on how to practice mindfulness. Staying in the present will help you start to have more control of current emotions and thoughts rather than emotions/thoughts that are based in the past or future.
3. Build Up Your Support Network
Depression is not meant to be conquered individually. We thrive when we have supports to lean on! How does your current support network look? Do you have people that you can trust and lean into when you need emotional support? If so, keep in contact with these supports! If not, start exploring ways to build up your support network. Seek out possible groups for depression, current life changes that you are experiencing, etc. Additionally, consider counseling support if needed. It can be reassuring to feel that there is someone advocating for you and helping you in your process and this is essential during times of depression.
4. Create A Plan
With depression comes low energy and a lack of interest in the things that you used to enjoy. Depression can make it easy to start avoiding tasks/activities that you once did that served a purpose. Although it can be challenging to force structure and plans during times of depression, it is important.
To start, map out plans for your day. You can do this proactively a day ahead of time or the morning of. However, think about what you would like to accomplish in the day and set small goals. This could include goals of making a healthy meal that day, getting laundry done, or having at least 20-30 minutes of self-care. Aim for small, achievable goals, at different times of the day (i.e. what do you want to have accomplished in the morning, afternoon, and by evening time). This will help you to have a purpose for the day and you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve your goals.
Depression can take different forms and the severity of depression is different for each person. Take these tips as a starting point, not an ending point. Seek additional support and tips to ensure that your stage of depression is being cared for in the way that you need.
About the Author
Amanda Cummins is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family