Depression is actually one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. While many people may experience a sad mood, that is not quite the same as depression. Depression or major depressive disorder is much more severe. This makes dealing with depression more challenging.
Depression is a very challenging disorder to manage. This is due in large part to the fact that the symptoms themselves often halt a person from taking the actions that would otherwise help them. For example, having little energy and wanting to stay in bed only perpetuates the depressive symptoms. It is nearly impossible for a person to start feeling better if they are not being active and connecting to life.
One way to start dealing with depression is to begin maintaining a depression journal. You may wonder what exactly a depression journal is. In some ways, a depression journal can be whatever you want and need it to be. At a minimum, you can use it as a place to write out your thoughts and feelings, which may itself be helpful. Beyond this, it will also be really helpful to use this journal to keep track of your mood and to keep track of the things that seem to affect it.
At first glance, you might think a routine sounds boring and even depressing in its own way. However, for most people a routine is a very important part of living in a way that will be healthy and positive for their mental health. A routine is just a generally established sequence for the events and activities in your day. Having a routine can keep you on track with doing what needs to be done, it can also motivate you, and it is generally helpful for good self-care.
Along with having a routine for your day, you will want to have a bedtime. Having a set bedtime will be helpful for maintaining your overall schedule. This can be flexible depending on your obligations in a particular day. Along with that bedtime, you should practice sleep hygiene. This is a set of activities that seem to promote good sleep. It involves preparing yourself and your environment for bedtime. Sleep hygiene can be simple—do not drink caffeine late in the day, turn the lights down an hour before bed, and turn off devices that might keep your mind awake
You have likely heard throughout your life that exercise is good for your health. You may think this just means physical health. However, research also shows that exercise is important for your mental health. It generally helps to promote mind-body wellness. Further, when dealing with depression, research has shown that exercise helps with behavioral activation. This means that it helps to get people motivated (activated) for other activities (behaviors). Starting your day with exercise may help you to combat your depression and help you to be more productive.
Psychological research has also shown that the way you think can greatly contribute to negative (depressive) thoughts that cause and then maintain depressive symptoms. Negative thinking can include having catastrophic thoughts (‘everything goes wrong’) and self-deprecating thoughts (‘I am not good enough’). When dealing with depression, it is very helpful to learn how to combat these negative thoughts. You can do this by monitoring for them, making note of them, and arguing against them. You do not have to make them positive thoughts, just less negative ones.
Another approach for dealing with depression is to practice self-compassion. This may be something you have never heard of. While self-care is becoming more commonly considered, self-compassion is another, newer approach. It is essentially being compassionate towards yourself just as you would to another person. For example, if you had a friend that made a mistake, you would likely tell them it is okay and that they will do better next time. Do the same for yourself. It will also help combat negative thoughts and help to improve your self-esteem.
Social support can go a long way to help your mental health. When dealing with depression, it is important to reach out to friends and other loved ones. While the condition itself may push you to isolate, giving into that will only maintain the low mood. Instead, fight against that by moving towards the people who care about you and who can help you to feel better. Spending time with the people you love will also be distracting from negative thoughts and motivating towards action. Those loved ones can help you to carry out all your other self-care plans.
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