Depression can be a beast.
It is a complicated thing because when you are depressed, you tend to turn inward and isolate yourself, which strengthens the depression. Often there is that negative voice that has crept in and told you that no one cares or there isn’t anyone who understands you or you’re never going to come out of this. I know it feels like you’re paralyzed, but you’re not. There are things you can do.
To address depression, you have got to do the opposite of what you feel like doing. I know it may be difficult, but you just have to decide to take action, even if you don’t want to. Don’t wait to be motivated to do something, just decide to do it and notice how motivation follows.
Here are my tips, in no particular order:
1) Go get a massage. Yes, you read that right! Human beings need touch. If you are feeling depressed, chances are you aren’t receiving enough human contact. Get a massage that suits your taste, whether it’s hot stone, Swedish, Thai or whatever, and just enjoy!
2) Get some exercise. I know, but it’s one of those things you just have to decide to do. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a hike, Zoomba, spin class, solo weight lifting, yoga or a run, get moving! It’s a great way to lift the fog of depression when you get out there and commit to an hour of movement.
3) Play some upbeat music. Throw on something that makes you smile or brings up feelings of joy! For example, I love 90’s/00’s hip hop because it reminds me of being wild and in my 20’s having a BLAST in NYC. Or I will play the soundtrack to Hamilton. Or Rent. Or Wicked. Or basically any other musical. You get the idea.
4) Watch something funny or uplifting. I really am not a fan of romantic comedies, but I do LOVE Love Actually. I mean, who doesn’t?! Such a heartwarming movie. I also love Jamie Foxx’s old comedy special from back in the day. Or have you seen Game Night?! I just saw that recently and that was HILARIOUS. Pick something that will bring up good feelings and dive in.
5) Get your diet together. Eat well and eat regularly, even if you aren’t hungry. Avoid caffeine and sugar. Eat lots of good oils. Like avocados, nuts, olives, or if you eat fish (I don’t), have some oily fish. Your mind consistently needs good fats to function properly. Have that awareness when choosing your snacks and meals.
6) Do something you love! Do a Paint Night, take a cooking class, go to karaoke, take a day trip, go horseback riding, go see live music, whatever! Do something you used to love to do but haven’t done in a while, or maybe that you have always wanted to try. Be brave and commit to doing something fun and just for you.
7) Volunteer. It just feels good to help others out. Mentor kids, take care of animals in your local shelter, help feed people who are sick or homeless, volunteer with veterans, anything that feeds your human inclination to connect and help. It’s in there!
8) Get your vitamins. A lack of vitamin D, vitamins B6, B3, B12 or Omega 3 can be underlying factors in depression, so if you aren’t getting them in your daily regimen, then add these supplements to your diet.
9) Invite someone over for dinner. Cook someone a meal. Or order some food out and have a guest over to enjoy a meal and maybe a board game or something. Set up a little activity, like cards or a project of some kind. I had friends over to make sushi together with this sushi kit I received as a gift. Or maybe have a tarot card reader over or something. Just have company over that you can provide a nice evening for, if that is something you would like to do!
10) Hypnotherapy. A well-trained clinical hypnotherapist can help you rewire those negative thought patterns and help you re-frame your perspective so that things don’t seem so hopeless.
Try any or all of these suggestions and be open to the idea that things can be different. I know it may be difficult but you have nothing to lose!
Remember, depression doesn’t make you negative, being negative and harshly critical about yourself on a regular basis makes you depressed. So, look for the beauty around you. Look to the future. Understand that these heavy feelings are not permanent and will not last, even if that seems totally implausible at the moment.
There is a way into a lighter, more enjoyable life, so let's find it!