Getting through the day can feel like trudging through the mud if you have depression. Hopelessness, sadness, and a general disinterest in activities that once provided joy are quite common with the condition. Decreased energy and difficulty concentrating can also accompany depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The symptoms of depression differ from person to person, especially if the condition is more severe. Getting out of bed can feel like running a marathon for one person, while unexplained back problems or sleep issues can affect another person. As bad as these symptoms are for people with depression, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what symptoms you’re dealing with, there are daily habits that may help you manage your day-to-day tasks. Mental health experts endorse the following strategies that may come to your aid if you have depression.
Fuel Your Body With Nutrients
According to a 2019 review, consuming anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy oils, nuts, and seeds may reduce your risk of depressive symptoms. Pro-inflammatory foods, on the other hand, may raise your risk of depressive symptoms. Some of those foods to avoid include refined carbs, fried foods, margarine, and red meats. Sugar is another food to limit because it acts on neuroreceptors, providing a temporary happy feeling that is quickly followed by a low, i.e. a sugar crash. Anti-inflammatory foods work to regulate blood sugar, which can help balance your mood.
Make Time For People You Care About
Having a great support system is a beautiful thing in this life. Whether you’re having a tough day or going through something, try to reach out to a loved one for support. Staying connected with family and friends can help encourage you to form strategies that help you feel better. A study from 2020 monitored people practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results indicated that the risk of depressive symptoms was 63% lower in people with more social support compared to those with minimal social support. Greater social support also indicated a 52% lower risk of sleep problems. If you have a hard time talking with friends or family about your depression, consider joining a support group.
Although exercise may sound draining, especially if you have fatigue or low mood, movement can actually help you battle depressive symptoms. An overview of 97 systematic reviews found that exercise eases symptoms of both depression and anxiety. The same overview concluded that exercise should be a mainstay approach in managing mental health conditions. Physical activity, from moderate- to high-intensity exercise, had the most benefits. Try to get active for 30 minutes a day as a maintenance goal!
Practice Healthy Self-Talk
Some therapists practice dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), a type of therapy that helps a person manage emotional sensitivities. Through this therapy, a person may promote the concept of radical acceptance, which is when a person validates their feelings in a healthy way. This process involves accepting the reality of your situation. It is rooted in the belief that suffering is not the direct result of emotion, but rather the attachment to expectations of emotions or behavior. Unhealthy self-talk, for example, involves sayings like, “I’m worthless, and nobody cares about me.” Healthy self-talk involves sayings like, “I accept that I’m low at the moment, and I know it will pass.” When you speak about yourself in a healthier way, you may find that feelings of depression are much less, or not as intense.
Keep A Journal
Writing in a journal, both on good days and bad, can be very beneficial if you struggle with depression. Journal entries can help you rate your emotions, track your behavior, and record your achievements. The practice of writing can help you identify patterns, emotions, or behaviors over time, and you can learn from them. Ideally, you should keep a daily journal, even if the entry is short. Try to identify how you feel and work with a therapist to develop techniques that help you deal with emotions in challenging situations.
Go At Your Own Pace
Depression is a very personal journey, and your experience will likely differ from someone else’s. Do what you can do and take each day step by step. Focus on tackling your most important tasks and don’t let negativity cloud over you if you have a bad day. The most important thing to remember is that things that will help you the most are often the most difficult to do. Make sure you have a support section to cheer you on, and give yourself permission to do things at your own pace. Just do them!