Dragging yourself out of the house, or inviting friends over sometimes seems like a hell of a job… almost impossible to do. You don’t feel like socializing, getting dressed, interacting with others, listening to your friends success stories and so on. But this is a very powerful way of dragging yourself out of a depression. Forcing yourself to go out will make you move (getting exercise), get sunlight (Vitamin D), and get distracted (other people talking to you) which makes you temporarily forget about your own sadness. It will make you less isolated and you’ll see that others around you missed you, like it when you are around and so on. Coping with depression means you maintain the friendships you have and you force yourself to be among them.
Coping with depression is difficult for most people because depressed people experience a lot of negative thinking. Negative thinking is when you evaluate yourself, your behaviour, events, things around you in a negative way. Negative thinking makes everything look tougher, heavier, uglier, not exciting and literally drains your energy when you only think of it. By challenging negative thinking you are effectively coping with depression, if you do it right. But first things first:
Almost every counselor, general practitioner and psychiatrist says you need to exercise when you are depressed. But does it really help you? Does it make you feel better overall? In general: it does. However, the evidence is not that strong yet. So far studies show that physical exercise not only occupies your mind, improves your stamina, but it also makes you feel good about yourself. Let’s have a closer look to see how coping with depression and exercise may go hand in hand. What kind of exercise? For coping with depression exercising for about 20 to 30 minutes a day should be enough to reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. If you can’t exercise daily, then 75 minutes a week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes a week of intense exercise should do the trick. But where and how to start? The best thing to do is to build up slowly. If you never hiked or cycled, then it is not wise to hike or cycle for 20 to 30 minutes at once. This will only increase the chance of injuries. For some people having a walk outside may already be beneficial, whereas for others hiking 3 kilometers in 20-30 minutes has more effect. Unfortunately coping with depression has a trial-and-error factor: you may run too much and feel your muscles for the next days, or you may do too little and don’t feel anything. With a little persistence you’ll see what works best for you: how far, how fast, alone or in groups and which type of exercise. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice that you’ll feel more rested, have more energy, look forward to exercising again, experience less stress and have a better mood during the days.
Healthy food directly affects the way you feel. If you eat a lot of sugars (candy, cake, chocolate) you’ll feel bad afterwards. Next to eating every 3 or 4 hours, it’s also important to pay attention to What you’re eating in order to cope with depression effectively. (Advertisement. For more information, please scroll down.)
Staying in bed all day long is a routine, but it’s not the routine you want. People need a healthy routine. A routine makes people feel good, comfortable and takes away stress, anxiety and feelings of uncertainty. Maintaining a routine is difficult if you have nothing to look forward to. And that’s why we started with step 1. Use step 1 or the goals you’ve written down in step 1 as a motivator for your routine. Having a routine makes coping with depression easier and these are the guidelines I strongly recommend:
Depressed people usually don’t feel like doing anything. Staying in bed and wishing for tomorrow to come as soon as possible is all they want. Coping with depression often seems too difficult of a task. But why? Why do depressed people feel so hopeless and empty and where is their drive? Almost all of my depressed patients tell me they have no (realistic) short-term or long-term goals. And when I ask them to close their eyes and think of something they would love to have achieved one day, I see a smile on their faces. When they start telling me about their dream/fantasy they seem to feel alive again. Chasing a dream or a fantasy may seem impossible when you’re depressed, but if you set your goals realistically, things suddenly get easier. Setting realistic goals increases the chance of experiencing success and success brings back the drive and joy in your life. Be aware that setting unrealistic goals may make it more difficult to achieve them. Not achieving goals may increase your depression symptoms. If you have the feeling that this step is too difficult for you, then please contact us and let’s do this together. You’ll see that coping with depression is easier when we do it together. Coping with depression starts with setting realistic goals. This is how it works.
We all get caught in the habit of seeing things from only one perspective. A friend of mine used to always tell me, “there are three sides to every story: yours, theirs and something in the middle.” She was right, and honestly, there are many more sides than that. Critical coaching moment here: Take a step back and try to think outside the box to see the vast expanse of options available to you. Try not to discount them right off the bat as they might not readily fit into the narrow view or expectation that you previously held. Allow your mind to run free, be creative, and find solutions.
Meditation, yoga, quiet time, exercise, breaks, breathing, quality sleep, good nutrition, and hydration—just to name a few—are all scientifically proven ways to reduce our internal stress and better manage our energy. On top of good self-care habits, taking the time to do whatever it is that fills your individual tank is crucial to feeling less overwhelmed with work anxiety. I frequently ask my clients which car will make it on a cross-country trip: the car you stop and put gas in, checking the oil and tires intermittently, or the car that you just keep driving?
There is a saying I like: “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” I have no idea who originally said it, but they are brilliant, and most of all, correct. Wasting time and energy comparing ourselves never leads us to a good place. Instead, ask yourself if you are doing the best you can given your own set of circumstances.
Don’t get bogged down in the minutia and cost yourself hours of needless work by re-reading an email 14 times before sending it. Read through it twice and hit send.