Depression is a difficult mental illness to live with. Some of the funniest, talented people we know have struggled with, and even died because of, depression.
What helps one person get through the darkest depths of depression may not help another one of us. We’re all different, so that is to be expected. It may take some time and trial and error to find what works for you, but our hope is that you find it soon.
We came up with some tips and ideas that might help ease your depressive episodes. Some of them may not work for everyone, but hopefully you find one or two things on our list that help make things easier for you. We hope you feel better soon.
1. Reach out to a friend, family member, or someone you trust.
Sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to. Someone who will listen to us. Someone who won’t judge us for how we feel. Someone who won’t try to “fix” us or the situation. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you know and trust. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, we always encourage and welcome you to lean on the mental health community on Twitter — we recommend tweeting the #SickNotWeak hashtag.
2. Eat a healthy, nutritious meal.
Depression can wreak havoc on our diet, leading us to either under- or overeat. It also may lead us to eat more carbs and processed food. Eating a healthy and nutritious meal can help improve our mood, and it will have positive effects on our overall health.
There is some evidence out there that suggests food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, and folic acid, like avocados and spinach, may help improve our mood.
3. Try to regulate your sleep.
Some people who experience a depressive episode may sleep too much, while others, especially if they are struggling with bipolar depression (which is different than clinical depression!), may go long periods of time without sleep.
It’s important to try and regulate our sleep when we’re experiencing a depressive episode. Setting an alarm to wake up around the same time every day, going to sleep around the same time every night, and doing our best to avoid naps during the day are things we can do to help regulate our sleep pattern.
4. Try to increase your physical activity.
Increasing the amount of physical activity we get per day can help improve our mood and help ease depression.
Some days, we just won’t feel like doing much, and that’s okay. If we aren’t up for a trip to the gym or going for a run, we can always try and go for a brief walk around the block instead. Even a short 15 minute walk can be beneficial.
It’s worth noting that increasing our physical activity per day is more likely to help improve our overall mood when we do it somewhat frequently.
5. Develop a routine.
A routine can be a beneficial tool in beating depression. It can be very difficult to stick to our every day routines and commitments when we’re struggling with depression. A small routine, even if it’s not our usual one, can help improve our mood and sense of achievement.
For example, in our usual, every day routine, we may make our bed every morning, brush our teeth every morning and evening, cook every meal at home, wash dishes, do one load of laundry, dust every room, and sweep the floors. If we’re experiencing a depressive episode, completing all of those tasks may very well seem impossible. Some days, we may want to completely abandon our chores and commitments. Ignoring everything in our routine can make things worse, though, by making us feel worse about ourselves.
Instead of abandoning everything on our daily to-do list during a depressive episode, we should accept that today is not a good day and take it easy on ourselves by lightening our load and expectations. If we usually brush our teeth twice per day, we can shoot for brushing only once. Instead of cooking every meal at home, maybe we can pick up takeout tonight. Instead of washing every dish in the sink, let’s wash only the ones we need today or tomorrow. Does everyone at home have clothes to wear tomorrow? The laundry can wait one more day. Instead of dusting every room, maybe we can dust the one or two we most frequent. Same with sweeping the floors.
It’s important to keep in mind that delaying certain tasks can do more harm than good, so it’s important to find a balance in our routines. The key is that we try and stick to some level of routine.
6. Reduce the time you spend on social media.
Social media is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, giving and receiving support, marketing ourselves and our blog or brand, and many more things. It can also be harmful if we come in contact with trolls and bullies, and if we let it take over and prevent us from following through with our routines and commitments. Social media in moderation is key.
7. Avoid toxic people and relationships.
A toxic person is anyone who makes us feel bad about ourselves, who disrespects us, or who takes advantage of us. Keeping toxic people in our lives can be very damaging to our mental health.
If you don’t feel comfortable or able to remove a toxic person entirely from your life right away, limiting your time with them over time can still be very beneficial to you.
8. Continue caring for yourself.
Continuing self-care is extremely important for helping to ease depression. When we’re depressed, it’s sometimes hard to maintain our hygiene or self-care. Making a conscious effort to take care of our hygiene and do little things for ourselves will go a long way in improving our mood.
9. Reduce alcohol and drug use.
Drinking alcohol or using drugs can be dangerous for our health if not done in moderation. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and excessive drug use is associated with higher risks of depression as well as depression relapse.
Limiting or eliminating our alcohol and drug intake is one way we can benefit our mental and physical health.
10. Maintaining your treatment plan.
Making an effort to maintain your treatment plan may actually help prevent some depressive episodes in the future, which will largely benefit your overall health.
By regularly going to counseling or therapy sessions, attending regular maintenance visits with our doctor, practicing effective coping strategies, and continuing to take our medication(s) as directed, we are following through with our treatment plan to better improve our mental health.