Unfortunately, I’ve always suffered from clinical depression. Even during good periods, I can feel as though I’m right on the edge of feeling that crushing, debilitating pain that there is no escape from. Whilst a lot of people who have never experienced depression can struggle to understand it, there are also a lot of other people who feel the same way as I do. There are ways to cope with your depression, ways of handling it the best you can and ultimately, ways to use depression to your advantage.
Yes, depression can take over your life and stop you from doing just about anything, but you are at the centre. You can make small changes to the way your depression affects you, if you take it a day at a time. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort and you’re going to want to give up – but it can be done.
1. Understand your depression
Understanding the ways in which your depression affects you, physically, emotionally and mentally is the first step to overcoming it and using it to your advantage. That’s not to say you’ll never be depressed again, but it’ll help you create strategies to overcome a depressive episode when you feel one coming. What do you physically feel when you feel depressed? Where are the pains? Do you get headaches, feel tension or something else entirely?
What happened in the last 24 hours? Did something trigger these feelings? I know when I feel depressed, there’s usually a trigger, but it can be difficult to pinpoint as I start thinking about other negative things that then “add” to the depression, if you will. If it helps, make a note of how you feel and the events that cause you to experience negative emotions.
2. Take care of your body
Depression can leave you feeling exhausted and unable to do anything, but when you’re feeling low, you need to force yourself to take care of your body. Keeping yourself hydrated, ensuring you get enough sleep and even eating regularly are all tasks that you must do, even when you feel like you don’t want to. Not eating, sleeping or being hydrated can all make your depression feel stronger and more powerful, which will make it harder to tackle in the long run. Take care of your body and you will feel more in control to be able to focus on using your depression to your advantage.
Once you get to a stage where the basics aren’t a struggle anymore, work some exercise into your daily routine. Even if it’s a brisk 10-minute walk around the block, it will leave you feeling invigorated as the endorphins are released and you’ll feel a lot better for it.
3. Take care of your mind
Just as important as taking care of your body, you must take care of your mind. Spending a few minutes per day focusing on positive things can make a massive difference. Yes it will be hard and yes, sometimes it may feel impossible. But it isn’t. Write yourself some positive quotes and stick them around the house – over your sink, on your mirror or on your fridge. Every time you pass them, say the words out loud with confidence, no matter how bad you’re feeling.
If you haven’t yet tried meditation, it may be a good place to start in order to clear your head. Spending just five minutes a day focusing on your breathing and how your body feels can make you feel a lot more centred. Just remember, if your mind starts wandering to negative thoughts, bring yourself back to focusing on your body and keeping your breathing steady.
Being depressed may feel life-crushing and like you’re unable to do simple daily tasks but if you take small steps, you will be able to conquer it. Your depression is only as big as you allow it to be, so stop it in its tracks and make a positive change today.