There are several things you can do to help yourself deal with depression:
Break the cycle. Depression feeds on itself and can be self-perpetuating. You may experience negative thoughts much of the time. These may seem like the natural way to be and therefore difficult to challenge. You can challenge them, but first you need to recognise them. This can be hard work which needs energy and time which can seem especially difficult when you are depressed because energy is just what you don’t have enough of. But you can take an active part and find ways to control that which has controlled you.
Get active. Activity is good for the mind. 20-30 minutes of fairly vigorous exercise up to five times a week stimulates the brain and reduces symptoms of depression. This might be walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, or going to the gym. Not everyone benefits from the same type of exercise so choose the activity that is right for you. It is important to take time for you. It says, “This is my time. I need it and deserve it”.
Spend time out-doors. Fresh air and nature have their own positive effects on our mental health.
Occupy your mind. Look for other things to occupy and stimulate your mind. What did you like to do when you were younger, when you were a child? Perhaps you could take up an old interest again.
Sleep. Take some time to disengage and unwind before trying to sleep. Calm down and relax about an hour and a half before you go to bed. Try not to watch anything or think about things which are overly stimulating or worrying. Train yourself to think about positive things last thing at night.
Eat well. Make sure you eat foods which provide a balanced diet. Mineral and vitamin deficiencies can affect our emotional well-being and mood. Oily fish, nuts, fruit and brightly coloured vegetables are all good. Be mindful of caffeine and alcohol both of which can destroy vitamins and interfere with sleep.
Look after yourself. In order to reduce negative thinking, you need to increase positive thinking. Think of the things you like, things that boost your energy and do them. Treat yourself, a new haircut, some seriously good chocolate, something that reminds you that you matter. What gives you a sense of achievement? Try to do more of those things.
Speak about it. Share your thoughts and feelings with people who can understand or empathise. Sometimes talking can externalise feelings so you can see them in a different perspective. Spend more time with people who make you feel good, people whose energy lifts you. Spend less time with people who sap your energy.
See a psychotherapist or counsellor. Psychotherapy focuses on how past events contribute to and affect your current thinking, feelings and behaviour. It helps you understand underlying factors of depression are, what contributes to it, what the triggers are, and what maintains it. As a psychotherapist and Counsellor, my job is to help you to recognise the underlying factors, recognise the symptoms, the patterns, the recurring negative thinking and self-doubt, and to find the best strategies to help you to conquer the debilitating effects of depression.