Important disclaimer: Depression is a mental disorder which should not by any means be taken lightly. It consists of a spectrum of differentiating forms and is a highly individual matter. For instance, clinical depression is a more severe form which is not to be confused with less acute forms of such.
Furthermore, depression must not be mistaken with widespread feelings of sadness or grief (such as after experiencing loss of a loved one, for example), as they are very different. It is not advisable to practice ‘self-diagnosing’. However, one should seek mental health help from a professional when/if in need of such. Lastly, this article is meant to provide helpful tips to alleviate weaker, more general symptoms of (milder) depression.
While depression is a mental condition, it is definitely one that is treatable for many. It typically (but not at all times) causes a continuous feeling of helplessness in combination with despair and a lack of initiative or interest in any activities. Therefore, it could potentially lead to emotional and physical issues which have the capacity to be detrimental to a person’s personal and professional life.
To say the least, depression could very well drain your energy levels, leaving you feeling exhausted and isolated. This consequence could potentially discourage you from seeking treatment to improve your well-being, as it does consist of a lot of effort, especially mentally.
However, there are some helpful ‘steps’ one could take into consideration in order to improve the sense of feeling more ‘in control’ of one’s own mental state and health in general.
1. Accept yourself as you are
Firstly, it is important to be aware of the fact that depression is a common issue. There is a great tendency of people feeling very alone and ‘different‘ when struggling with such issues. However, more people than you realize may have the problems you are experiencing on a daily basis. Millions of people, actually, are affected by the mentioned disorder and battle with the constant obstacles of it.
So, the first major step towards healing is to be more accepting and loving towards your own self. Being self-critical would only fuel to the ongoing fire of constant negative thinking.
2. Do not suppress your emotions
It is very common that one might be more inclined to suppress or even ignore his/her feelings and emotions in an attempt to ‘discredit‘ them as even existent. However, this technique is an unhealthy mountain to climb. By doing so, you would be reinforcing the symptoms even more.
If you are having a particularly hard day or even week, allow yourself to have it without the unneeded judgment of your own self. There is a certain form of power that comes with facing your struggles head-on, enabling yourself to feel whatever is going on at the moment.
However, that moment will not last forever and you will not stay there. You shouldn’t.
A helpful tip in this regard is to begin writing down your experiences in a journal or any notebook you find worthy, really. Recording your process will lead you to obtain a lot more insight on your issues, as you would put a more rational spin onto things.
3. You do not have to do everything miraculously in one day
Change will not happen overnight, so give yourself a break.
If today, for example, you were unable to achieve exactly what you intended or planned to do, that is absolutely fine. You have the opportunity to do that tomorrow. As long as you do not lose the mindset to keep going, you can peacefully allow yourself the freedom to deal with difficulties at your own pace.
As said above, everything does not have to happen in one day miraculously.
4. Do not generalize
Avoid the tendency to generalize, especially negatively (as is almost always the case). Putting the focus on the circumstances or events that are/were negative will not serve you well in any way. Moreover, emphasis should be put on the positive, in order to healthily stimulate constructive thinking.
To help you, you can journal about this, too. Write the positives and afterward, the negative, striving to keep a balance which would allow growth to happen.
5. Set reasonable goals
Making an endless list of goals you would like to achieve is not the best idea. Why? Isn’t that putting things into perspective?
Well, it doesn’t. It’s actually counterproductive in the sense that it could be very overwhelming. The inclination to do nothing would, therefore, win over any healthy motivation or ambition. So, to avoid that, you can start with writing down smaller, day-to-day tasks that are realistically possible for you to accomplish.
Completing one task after the other, in actuality, adds up in retrospect and you can tangibly see you are working for (not against) yourself. Noticeably, you will have made achievements (even if they are smaller ones) in contrast to an untouched to-do list.
6. Be appreciative of your own efforts
As already said in the last paragraph, even if it seems small in the grand scheme of things, you should be proud and appreciative of your own efforts to achieve a healthier state of well-being. Therefore, whenever you complete a task (it could be anything) find the time to acknowledge that.
Recognizing your success is indeed a powerful tool against the negative, continuous circle of depression. This would work helpful towards breaking the chain of negative self-talk, overgeneralization, as well as negative thinking.
You might have more power and control than you give yourself credit for.
7. Create a routine
Lastly, a very pragmatic tip is for you to create a daily routine for yourself for the times when you might feel overwhelmed. Having a (not too strict, of course) schedule would work complimentary with your effort to regain control over your mind and body.
However, those plans should not be encompassing the whole day, but more so the times when you would like to keep your mind engaged with a healthier activity (rather than dwell upon the negative). That could be before you go to bed, before or after work, or whenever you have spare time for yourself.
The schedule you paint out for yourself should be loose and less structured, allowing for creativity and your daily pace to keep going as intended. Examples of such activities could be indulging in your favorite hobby, taking some time off in nature or just writing down memories as you listen to some of your favorite music.
In conclusion, the path to a healthier mindset and mental well-being is indeed a long one. Healing does not happen overnight, nor should it. The most important thing you should take out all is this is that you should value yourself and your efforts more than you would naturally be inclined to. This is indeed the cornerstone to a successful recovery.