Depression…what a heavy word. First, we want to acknowledge that depression is considered a serious illness, so if you’ve been diagnosed (or think maybe you should be) please make sure you get help: there are some wonderful resources available. This post is for anyone who believes – regardless of their diagnosis – that there are some very simple things EVERYONE can do to support feelings of well-being and happiness. Depression doesn’t have a quick fix but below are a few principles anyone can apply. When you take care of yourself during difficult times, you’ll find ways to feel better, or at the very least, accept your feelings and understand they don’t have to last forever.
Managing Feelings of Depression on Your Own
Managing your depression is possible, so avoid giving in to feelings of fear or overwhelm. Success often comes from believing in what you’re trying to accomplish, and people who succeed keep pressing forward, even when they’re scared or uncertain. They continue to work because they believe there is hope. We can all experience this on some level, regardless of how difficult things may be. These strategies can help you reclaim your life if you are feeling stuck.
- Focus on the positive. This idea can be overused (problems can be solved, feelings can be acknowledged, traumas can be healed)…but it’s true that each one of us has something good we can focus on. Try making a list of everything good in your life: your friends, family, where you live, your job, the weather, or even little things like the sound of a bird chirping, a driver giving you the right of way….these things count! There are always good things in your life to notice, and good people in the world. It might be hard to create your list at first but don’t give up! Keep pushing through and you might come up with more than you expected.
- Know who your friends are. Spend your time with people who share positive attitudes, goals, and beliefs, and who support YOU. These kinds of friends can raise your spirits when times are tough. If you’re not a part of a religious group that typically offers support at a deep ”soulful” level, there are other groups where you’ll find like-minded, happy, positive, and supportive influences; people who aren’t afraid to talk about difficult topics. Search in your community or ask your healthcare provider for resources. You could join a support group specifically for people who want to work through their difficult feelings, or a group that focuses on positive things to help move you forward. This is where we shine at Full Moon Retreats: our events are structured so you get to know women and feel nurtured in a supportive environment (you can also connect with us online).
- Keep moving, and pay attention to what you eat. Exercise is one of the best ways to feel better. It’s a great mood-booster and helps provide more energy. Start small if you need to, working your way up to 3-5 times per week. It doesn’t have to be a hard workout: even a walk around the block can provide benefits. You could even use it as a way to meet people; if you join a walking club or take your dog for a walk and get to know other dog owners. Exercise can increase your desire to be involved in other hobbies too. When it comes to what you eat, certain foods might make you feel sluggish, including popular “comfort foods”. Poor eating habits can be a difficult cycle to get out of if you feel guilty and just want to stay on the couch. Give yourself a break, but also do what you need to take care of yourself. If you feel your habits are out of control or your friends and family start expressing their concern: they could be noticing something you don’t! You can always make small changes, and create your own support group to help influence you.
It’s Worth the Effort
Any good thing is going to take work, and it’s worth the effort. When you’re dedicated to making changes in your life you’ll notice subtle changes. Even if you start out by posting positive affirmations around your house, thinking about something you’re grateful for, or something you look forward to before you go to sleep…these add up. Your subconscious will begin to shift and you’ll begin to internalize these messages you say to yourself. You might even start waking up feeling good, without effort. What you tell yourself often becomes reality, so make a conscious effort to create a reality you want. Make a commitment to yourself and don’t give up. You may find that over time and with consistent effort, your bad feelings will fade into the past.