The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer from some type of depression; it’s one of the leading causes of disability. But depression can make you feel like you’re all alone. When you’re in the grips of a bad case of the blues, you might think that no one could possibly understand how bad you feel. Or at least, I know that’s how I feel.
When I’m down, I often find myself doing the very things that are guaranteed to make me even more depressed. Sleeping late, eating sugary junk foods, staying inside and isolating myself from friends are the exact opposite of what will make me feel better, and they’re exactly what I’m compelled to do when I’m in the grip of a depressive episode.
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Even if you’ve learned to manage your mood with therapy, medication, or natural methods, it’s not uncommon to have relapses now and then. My depression can make me feel like the proverbial frog in a pot: I don’t notice the water getting hotter until it’s boiling. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to turn the temperature down before I get cooked. Unfortunately, it can be hard to remember what they are in the moment I need them. And that’s what lists are for.
If your depression has thrown you for a loop and you can’t seem to get on top of it, here are 27 things you can try today – right now – to find your balance again:
- Make your bed. Starting the day off with an accomplishment, no matter how small, is a win.
- Have eggs for breakfast. Nutritionists have called eggs the perfect food for depression; they’re full of brain-friendly nutrients.
- Skip the sugar. This will keep your blood sugar, and therefore your mood, from crashing after the sugar high wears off.
- Meditate. You can do this in as little as three minutes; try the Headspace app.
- Do something nice for someone else. As someone once said to me, if you want to feel good, then do good.
- Soak up some sun. Sunlight is proven to help lessen depression.
- Hang out with a friend. A little human contact goes a long way in combating the blues.
- Drink a glass of water. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, and grouchiness; the last thing you need when you’re already down.
- Set a small goal and accomplish it. There’s nothing wrong with writing “brush teeth” on your to-do list.
- Eat some protein. A handful of nuts or some salmon sushi will help stabilise your blood sugar, which is closely linked to your mood.
- Silence your inner critic. Negative thinking and depression go hand-in-hand.
- Do something nice for yourself – buy a new lipstick, bake cupcakes, watch a movie.
- Pop a fish oil supplement. Scientific research has linked depression with low levels of the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil.
- Go for a walk. Your mum was right – the fresh air really will do you good.
- Turn off the sad music and play an upbeat song; it’s scientifically proven to lift your mood.
- Reframe self-defeating thoughts: instead of “I fail at everything,” think, “I keep on trying and never give up.”
- Do something creative: start a blog, write a poem, draw a picture.
- Get a massage. Physical touch has been proven effective in boosting serotonin levels.
- Reach out to your therapist. Call, text, or email – most therapists are happy to talk you through a between-appointments low point.
- Shut down negative self-talk. Would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself?
- Put things in perspective. Think about other times you’ve been depressed: you got through that, and you’ll get through this, too.
- Try Zentangling – it’s a form of doodling shown to reduce stress.
- Don’t dwell on your problems; distract yourself however you need to, rather than wallowing in sadness.
- Watch a favourite funny movie; laughter stimulates serotonin production.
- Cuddle an animal; if you don’t have a pet, go to a shelter and offer to walk a dog or hold a cat.
- Write in a gratitude journal before bed. Focusing on the things you’re thankful for is a guaranteed mood-booster.
- Go to bed early. Lack of sleep plays havoc with your brain chemicals; get a good night’s rest and things may look brighter in the morning.
What do you do to help with your depression?
If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.
The feature image used is a stock image. This post originally appeared on SheSaid and was republished here with full permission.
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