If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, and are finding it hard to cope, we’re here for you. As hard as it might seem, there are small steps you can take to help yourself through depression, which are best done in addition to getting help from a mental health professional. These tips can help break the ‘cycle’ of depression, where feeling bad leads you to doing less and feeling worse.
We know it can be tough to do any of these things when you’re depressed, so be easy on yourself. Also, try to remember that different things work for different people. Not everyone loves yoga, and that’s cool. Keep trying, even if the first few things don’t help.
1. Talk to someone
It’s common to withdraw when you’re feeling depressed, but this can make you feel worse. Try to reconnect with friends, but start small: if you’ve been avoiding your friends altogether, a starting point might be to send a text or to reply to one. If you don’t feel like leaving the house, you could ask them to come and hang out with you at home. This might also be a good time to spend more time with your family or other people who you feel super comfortable around.
2. Challenge your thoughts
Just because we think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true, so it can help to learn how to challenge negative thinking.
Writing down your thoughts is a good way to find out those that are making you feel down and depressed, so that you can challenge them. You might find yourself thinking ‘nobody cares about me,’ and can challenge this thought with, ‘my family cares about me.’
If your mood is really low and you have difficulty challenging your thoughts, avoid writing them down on your own and instead seek help from a mental health professional.
3. Practise relaxation
Relaxation is great for reducing stress. Write down a list of things that help you to unwind and keep it handy for when you've got some spare time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing with doggos in the park or watching footy reruns - as long as it helps you to chill out and recharge. If you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve got a bunch of ways to chill for cheap here.
4. Take some time out to do things you enjoy
When you’re depressed, it can be hard to get motivated to do the things you like to do. It can also feel impossible to experience enjoyment. Even so, each day, try to make yourself do one thing you used to enjoy doing, as it can help give you a sense of achievement. The activity could be super simple, like reading 10 pages of a book, going for a short walk or watching your fave TV show.
5. Look after yourself
It can be frustrating when people constantly tell you to exercise when you’re depressed. But, we do know exercise can make a difference to your energy levels and help boost hormones that help you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as long as it gets you moving. You could take a stroll down to the shops, do some bedroom yoga, ride your bike to the park or start a mini mosh pit in your lounge room.
Looking after yourself isn’t just about what you do when you’re awake, your sleep pattern can also have a huge impact on your health. Check out these tips for catching more zeds.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on whether you're using booze or drugs to cope with depression, as this can make you feel worse. The main thing is to try to be as kind as possible to your mind and body, so you can start feeling a bit better.
What to do if these tips aren’t working
If you’ve tried the strategies above but your symptoms are still overwhelming, go and see your GP or a mental health professional. Your GP will have suggestions for alternative things you can try to help manage your depression from day to day, and will be able to assess if you need medication or further help. Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, medication and having a good relationship with a GP, psychologist and/or psychiatrist, can be effective in treating depression and improving mood.