As humans, we all experience a wide range of emotions. Just as we can feel immense joy and happiness, we also have to endure feeling sad or even depressed at times. If you’re feeling depressed, think about trying these tactics to see if they can help lift your mood.
1) Challenge your own thoughts.
Consider keeping a journal to write down thoughts and feelings you are having. Then ask yourself if these thoughts are reality based. Depression can lead to all-or-nothing thinking patterns. Was yesterday really the worst day of your life? Do you really hate every single thing about your life, or possibly just a few parts of it? Continually challenge black or white thinking patterns.
2) Get back in touch with a lost part of yourself.
What is something you used to love to do? Can you paint, sing, dance? Do you love to travel? What makes you happy and eager to get out of bed? Find out and do it!
3) Call on friends or family for support.
Now is the time to ask an old (or new!) friend to lunch, a movie, or out shopping. Though it’s sometimes hard to take the initiative to do this, the reward is worth it! Socialization is key to improved mood and staying home in bed all day won’t help.
4) Consider the “E” word – exercise that is!
Research continues to support the role that exercise plays in helping lift depression. Being physical has a direct impact on increasing the “feel good” chemicals in your brain. You don’t have to run a marathon. At a minimum, strive to take a 20 minute walk, preferably without your sunglasses. There is an additional benefit to having sunlight hit your eyeballs directly and this too has been shown to decrease feelings of depression.
5) Acknowledge that some days will be better than others.
There will be days when you wake up, and for whatever reason, you might feel down, lethargic, or just plain unmotivated. You have a couple of options here. You can force yourself to do one of the above suggestions – exercise, be social, etc. – or you can assign yourself a reasonable “time out” period. Give yourself a designated timeframe to feel down or do nothing. But once that time period is up (set a timer), it’s time to do something productive. An example might be “I’m going to watch TV for an hour, but then I’ll go for a 30 minute walk.” Even better is to go for a walk for 30 minutes and to then reward yourself with TV time.
6) Explore the severity of your mental state.
If you feel stuck or have trouble beginning any of the steps above, consider seeking professional help. Depression is one of the most common reasons that people go into therapy and, thankfully, it is a treatable condition. Your life CAN get better—you might just need a little help to make it happen.
Finally, if you find that you are having suicidal thoughts that include a plan of action, call 9-1-1 or visit a hospital for immediate help.
If you’d like additional support and guidance, please contact me at (916) 622-3996 for a free, 15 minute phone consultation.