I’ve struggled with depression on and off for as long as I can remember. It’s been a battle I’ve fought for so long I can’t remember ever living any other way. I’m currently on medication that seems to balance my emotions out most of the time, but I still find myself getting depressed from time to time.
My husband can see it start to surface before I can. He notices the symptoms several days before I do, and has been trying to help me notice before it gets out of control. I’ve gone through quite a bit of counseling in the past few years, and learned various coping skills to manage my depression. Here are a few that help me when I’m starting to feel down:
When I’m feeling depressed I tend to isolate myself and try to hide from the world. I will avoid leaving the house at all costs, when it gets bad enough. I don’t answer the phone or reply to texts. So I know if I’m starting to feel down I need to reach out and talk to a family member/friend, or go to a support group meeting.
Exercise and Eat Well
I’ve always been a total comfort eater. Any time I get depressed I go straight to the junk food to make myself feel better. Of course it always ends up back firing and making me feel worse in the long run, but it’s been something I’ve struggled with since adolescence. I’ve been trying to eat a healthier, more balanced diet and exercise regularly. Fueling my body with the right nutrients and taking control of my fitness level has helped me tremendously.
Counter Negative Thoughts
My thought process has always leaned more toward the negative side of things, and my brain often rushes to the worst case scenario in any situation. This has been the hardest symptom of my depression to overcome. Through counseling and support groups I have learned to identify and turn around my backwards thinking. Some of the specific types of thinking I engage in are:
- All or nothing thinking: seeing things in black and white, with no gray areas in between.
- Emotional reasoning: using your feelings instead of your judgment to view a situation.
- Mind reading: believing that you know what a person is thinking. Those are your thoughts, not theirs.
- Predicting the future: assuming what the outcome will be without letting the scenario play through.
I know that when I let my mind go wherever it wants, it will usually lead to depression. I have to make a conscious effort to recognize these types of thoughts and retrain my brain to do the opposite.
Engage in Enjoyable Activities
When my depression sets in, I don’t find any activities to be very enjoyable. But I know that once I do something I’ll start feeling better. If I’m really down I have to force myself to do most things, but in the end it’s worth it. Some of the activities I engage in are home workouts, playing with my kids, coloring, putting puzzles together, camping, kayaking, walking, etc. Getting outdoors is great for my mood, because it allows me to get much needed fresh air and sunshine as well.
Stick To A Routine
I find it helpful to have a general daily routine for myself and the kids to stick to. We’re pretty loose about it, but we try to have meals at the same time every day, take a bath after dinner, etc. I also have a cleaning schedule that I try to follow. This helps me to stay on track with what needs to be done, so nothing gets a chance to pile up on me.
These techniques have helped me keep my depression under control, and living a happy, healthy life with my family. There are others that I’ve tried, and more I’m sure I’ll learn in the future, but for now I will stick with what has worked for me.