I’ve experienced something recently that overwhelmed me to the point where I wanted to give up. My response to all these yucky feelings was to chuck everything I had been working so hard on with an attitude of “What’s the point?”. I spent a week in this haze. Numbing my pain with fast food, laying in bed and wasting hours scrolling on my phone, binge watching Netflix shows so I didn’t have to deal with what was going on with me.
Basically, doing everything to make me feel WORSE.
I had a particular incident that triggered this episode, but I feel like the state of the world, the pandemic, the uncertainty and staying cooped up behind closed doors have many experiencing some sort of anxiety and hopelessness.
In an effort to pull myself back out and hopefully inspire others, this post covers what you can do to prevent falling into a depressed state.
We all should know by now exercise releases endorphins that boost mood. It also raises your body temperature which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Showing discipline and exercising consistently will keep your outlook bright.
Cut Back on Social Media
I don’t know how many times I’ll have to experience this before it will finally sink in, but starting my day off scrolling through my Twitter feed will do nothing but set me up for a bad day. Social media is addicting and taking in all that negative information is like a drug. In addition, looking at social media promotes comparison and contributes to feelings of low self-esteem.
Instead of advising something unreasonable, like avoid it all together, try going on only with a specific purpose in mind, like checking up on a friend. Resist using it to just mindlessly pass the time. If you find that hard, there are website blocking extensions you can download to limit the amount of time you spend on a specific website.
Build Strong Relationships
A strong support network is your best defense against falling into the chasm of darkness. Connect regularly with friends and family. Find new hobbies to expand your circle of friends. Reaching out to others will be the last thing you’ll feel like doing, but do it anyway!
Minimize Daily Choices
We make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis. It’s stressful. Eliminating some of those decisions will make the day seem less of a struggle. If you’re one of those people who finds decision making hard, or like to explore all options, learn to make decisions more quickly. Evaluate two options, make a decision and stand by it.
Eliminating even some of the smallest decisions helps. Plan ahead and pick out the clothes you’ll wear during the week or the meals you’ll eat. On Sundays, I prep everything I can think of to make the week easier.
Managing and coping with stress will go a long way to prevent depression symptoms from spiraling out of control. Avoid over-committing yourself. Practice mindfulness and try meditation.
Sometimes we just need a little extra help to work through something, and that’s okay. There is no shame in meeting with a therapist. If you have battled depression in the past, it’s a good idea to schedule maintenance sessions with your therapist from time to time to ensure you don’t slip back into old mental patterns. Never stop any medications abruptly. Wean yourself off of meds over time.
We need our sleep to restore and rejuvenate. If you are having trouble sleeping try some of these tips:
- Stop staring at a screen two hours before bed. Read a book for heaven’s sake!
- Try listening to a guided meditation for sleep. YouTube is a good source for these.
- Avoid all caffeinated beverages after noon.
Eliminate Toxic People
Anyone who consistently causes you to feel bad about yourself or takes advantage of you needs to be axed out of your life.
Eating a week’s worth of fast food was a bad way to try to comfort myself. High fat diets are bad all around for your well-being. Eat a diet with lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables. Reduce sugar and fat, eliminate processed foods and incorporate more omega 3 foods, such as salmon and nuts.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Let’s make this easy…if you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and get adequate sleep each night, this will take care of itself.
Manage Chronic Conditions
If you suffer from an auto-immune disorder or any other type of chronic illness, then be sure to consult a doctor if your symptoms worsen. Don’t suck it up. Get some relief, you deserve it.
Also, make sure to follow the prescribed treatment plan and make any lifestyle changes that will benefit your condition.
Don’t Make Things Deliberately Worse
Alcohol, drugs and nicotine make depression worse. Period.
Plan for Triggers
If your depression kicks in around a particular event, like the anniversary of a death or seeing your ex at a child’s activity, then plan for these ahead of time. Remind yourself that you will get through it. Ask a friend to check in with you.
Getting rid of things that I don’t need or rearranging a room always help me feel lighter.
After wallowing for a week in misery, I took the first step by getting back to taking care of myself. Even just eating one healthy meal, the darkness faded and I felt more like my optimistic self.
It will get better!