Do you struggle with depression? Looking for practical coping strategies? If the answer is yes, you aren’t alone. As an aspect of my OCD, I’ve battled the blues my entire life.
Here are ten small things you can do each day to help lift your mood. Some of these suggestions may seem silly. That’s OK. Try them anyway. What do you have to lose?
1. Practice gratitude when you first wake up. Using your five senses, identify two or more things you are aware of and then affirm them in your mind’s eye. Example: “I am aware the sun is shining through my window and I am grateful” or “I smell fresh coffee brewing and I am grateful.”.
2. Eat an apple. When you are depressed, eating can be a real struggle. For some, this means skipping meals or reaching for sugary eats that give a quick jolt of energy. Since you’ve gotta eat to survive, why not munch on an apple? Here’s why: Apples are a great source of soluble fiber and help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
3. Focus on one task at a time. When you are depressed, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. By picking one small task and then completing it, you increase feelings of personal productivity.
4. Step into your circle of confidence. In many cases, depression can mean living with low self-esteem. As a tool for coping, consider creating a circle of confidence and stepping into it each day.
5. Use a To-Do List. When you’re feeling depressed, memory lapses can happen (even for simple things). By working off a To-Do list, you’ll give yourself a concrete tool for working through. As you go through your day and check-off each item on your list, you’ll feel better about yourself. Hint: Keep the list small and be OK with writing down mundane tasks (ex: “Wash dishes” or “Pay the phone bill.”
6. Read something funny. When depression kicks in, it’s easy to see through a lens of darkness. As a way of creating balance, read something funny that makes you laugh. Examples include a comic strip, a humorous meme page on Facebook, or Twitter posts with the #laughter.
7. Some form of cinematherapy. Do you enjoy light-hearted T.V. shows? How about movies or webisodes where you can identify with a character? By engaging in cinematherapy, you help to create distance from your sadness while engaging in self-compassion.
8. Affirmations of time. One of the most powerful ways you can move through depression is by affirming to yourself: “What I am feeling now is not forever – this, too, will pass.” It is best to say this at least three times.
9. Small movements. Keep it simple. Walk your dog around the block, mop the bathroom floor, or dust off a bookshelf. The idea is to get your blood flowing and brain chemicals moving. In turn, this helps increase dopamine levels and lift your mood.
10. Engage in human contact. Feelings of isolation are a cruel reality of depression. The more down you feel, the less you want to be around others. The problem is that avoiding others can make you feel worse. By simply asking, “How are you?” to a friend, co-worker, or even a casual acquaintance, you break the pattern of isolation and increase feelings of personal empowerment.
Bonus: Mindful Meditations. Denial of your feelings only makes them stronger. Instead, it is far healthier to acknowledge your sadness and balance them with other emotions. Mindfulness meditations de-intensify depression and create space for other feelings, such as happiness and joy.
Let’s be real – living with depression stinks. I understand this all too well. That’s why practicing a morning gratitude ritual and creating a circle of confidence can act as meaningful coping strategies.
Hopefully, one or more of the tips I’ve listed above will help to create light in the darkness.
Oh, and before I forget – since anxiety is depression’s best friend – here’s 10 daily things to consider.
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