Everybody experiences ups and downs in their daily lives, and there will be days where you would feel bouts of sadness more than the usual. However, what do you do when that cloud of gloom takes over you not just for a few days, but even weeks, or sometimes months and years?
Whether you are diagnosed with depression or not, it can often feel like an internal battle that can cripple you with inactivity. When friends telling you to “cheer up” is not enough, here are some of the most effective and healthy ways to fight your depression.
1. Identify your inner critic
Although depression can be triggered by external reasons, its depth is far more reaching than changing circumstances. Sometimes, it can appear without any triggers as it is often associated with a brain chemical imbalance.
Those who suffer from clinical depression report having self-defeating thoughts and voices that tell them they’re of no worth. To battle this symptom, you need to recognize them as thoughts not coming from your own, but rather your “inner critic”. You must learn to separate the rest of your thought life from these critical voices that tell you you’re worthless, you have no hope, or you don’t deserve to be happy. These self-defeating thoughts are false and exaggerated ideas by your inner critic.
By learning to be above your inner critics, you can conquer them and eliminate them from your thought patterns.
2. Release your emotions
Depression can also be caused by the suppression of emotions. When something causes you to feel anger or disappointment, it can evolve to other emotions such as apathy and numbness especially when not resolved. When you don’t acknowledge your feelings about certain issues in your life, it sucks your energy and clouds your perception.
To combat bottled emotions, you need to release whatever you feel in a healthy way. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal, to write a blog, or to express it artistically. The acceptance of these emotions can be a vulnerable point in your battle, but know that this is a crucial step to true healing.
3. Stay physically active
Although getting up may be the last thing you want to do during a depressed state, studies show that staying physically active is another way to be emotionally steady. You don’t have to go all-out at the start. All you need is a simple 20-minute routine such as walking outside, running, or attending a short class to keep your heart rate going.
This simple habit of staying active regularly releases endorphins, a known hormone to fight negative moods. Exercising can also reduce stress, anxiety, and helps you avoid degenerative diseases such as stroke, heart attack, obesity, or diabetes.
4. Consider getting into rehab
In some cases, depression is caused by unhealthy ways of coping. When a negative event strikes, such as loss of a job, death of a loved one, separation from family, or failure of any kind, some people would resort to alcohol, drugs, smoking, overeating, gambling, or other forms of addiction.
Now, the addiction becomes a co-morbidity that exists aside from having a depressed state. These two conditions interact together which makes a person suffer from a downward spiral. If you both suffer from addictive behaviors and depression, consider getting into rehab.
5. Avoid being isolated
Your inner critic may tell you to keep away from people and to avoid bothering them with your problems. However, this shouldn’t be the case. The more you feel downtrodden, the more you should seek support from others.
Often, the cause of depressive moods is the thought that there is nobody else in the world who shares your pain. Although each person has their unique set of struggles, it is false to think that you are the only person who is going through a struggle. Sometimes, just reaching out to someone who can relate can give you a great sense of comfort. There are many support groups available that can help you connect with others. Even the simple act of sharing your feelings to a trusted friend can bring relief.
6. Find a new (or rediscover your old) hobby
The lack of motivation may cause you to feel apathy towards your surroundings. What was once enjoyable doesn’t look appealing anymore, and getting out of bed seems like a total dread. Use this time of contemplation to discover a new hobby, or do the old things that can make you happy.
It could be playing an instrument, engaging in art, or trying out a new sport. Even if you don’t feel like it, take the smallest, easiest step. It’s not about how far you can go on your first try, it’s more about the decision you made to combat depression.
7. Read or watch something funny
People who are depressed may think that they do not deserve to enjoy the small things in life. These are the very thoughts that feed the inner critic that may prevent you from fighting depression. Sometimes, it just helps to take a break and find happiness in watching a funny movie or a TV show. Read humorous pieces or comics that make you chuckle. These activities can remind you that it doesn’t take a lot to have a little laughter, and it can even help you battle the worst of your depressive episodes.
Feed your good wolf
A Cherokee parable illustrated a battle between two wolves who represented good and evil. Like the story, our head can be in a constant battle between positive and negative emotions. As you take these simple steps to “feed your good wolf”, you are one step closer to winning against depression.