Top 10 Tips for Beating Depression
Due to the comments on our recent list dealing with suicide, I thought it would be useful to put together a list of things you can do to help you overcome depression and improve the quality of your life. This is a list of the top 10 tips for leaving depression behind.
10. Develop Interests
Perhaps one of the most common reasons for depression is a lack of enough interests and activities. A small number of them tend to become routine and often boring. Interests and activities are very important in mental health, contributing to self-esteem and happiness. They give satisfaction, help make you feel good about yourself, and keep your mind off problems and negative thoughts and emotions. Simply cultivating them can sometimes cure depression, grief, addiction, explosive anger, anxiety, excessive worrying, or guilt, especially if you do the activities whenever you feel the negative emotion. There are many things you can do in this area: house work, visiting the sick or elderly, developing a hobby that involves the use of the hands, and so much more.
9. Keep Positive
Negative thinking habits play a very important role in depression. Research shows depressed people tend to minimize their accomplishments, talents, and qualities. Happy people experience failure, disappointment, rejection, negative emotions, pain, and great sorrows, too, just like depressed people. But happy people keep a positive attitude by gracefully accepting sadness and suffering as normal parts of life, while doing what they can about their problems. This also makes them more pleasant to be around and improves their social lives. Part of happiness is a courageous choice of loving life in the face of suffering, a chosen position or view of things.
Work on your personal problems, using small steps to make sure you avoid becoming overwhelmed. Work on only one or two simple things at a time, breaking large or complex problems into goals you can easily accomplish. Use rewards, friends, family, and support groups. What negative or stressful situations exist in your life? What can you do about them? Don’t give up and allow your problems to continue. Brainstorm solutions and ask other people for ideas. Some depressed people reject all the possible solutions, finding reasons to eliminate each one as unacceptable, unpleasant, or unworkable. Don’t let negative thought habits interfere with problem solving. Keep an open mind to all possible solutions.
7. Create a Positive Social Life
Work to make your social interactions more positive by showing warmth toward other people, taking an interest in them, developing and sharing interests and activities, etc. Ask your friends and loved ones to ignore your depressed behaviors and to cut telephone calls and visits short when you dwell on complaints or drown in self-pity, spending more time with you and showing more warmth and interest when you act in more normal ways. Tell them to avoid taking pity on you and feeling guilty for not catering to your depression. Which leads us to point 6:
When you complain, cry, talk of sad feelings, or discuss problems, your friends and loved ones probably respond with sympathy and tender loving care. Unfortunately, these loving responses reward and help maintain the depressive behaviors. Some friends or family even take over chores for a depressed person who stays in bed or asks for help. Again, this rewards the passive or dependent behavior. Perhaps you reward yourself when you drown in negative thoughts or self-pity. Many depressed people eat, spend money excessively, abuse addictive substances, or have sex without love to feel better. Eliminate these and any other subtle rewards for depressive behavior.
5. Be Realistic
Reexamine your expectations or priorities in life and, if necessary, adjust them to suit reality better. Depressed people often think they can’t be happy without certain things, such as a lover, a particular lover, material possessions, a much higher income, etc. You can eliminate such problems by changing your negative thinking and learning to accept the situation. Certain situations or troublesome people simply won’t change. When you can do something about a problem, however, you should. For example, you may need to leave an alcoholic spouse or to go to school to prepare for a better job.
Change bad habits that keep you depressed. Work on replacing negative thoughts with positive thought alternatives every day. If you tend to blame circumstances or other people for your depression, combat these thoughts of helplessness by reading or by repeating, “I made myself down over that. I didn’t have to respond that way.” Use assertiveness skills, good problem-solving skills, or more positive thinking the next time a similar situation arises. If you often assume other people think badly of you read or repeat “I can’t read other people’s minds.” Humor also helps a great deal in facing life’s problems without drowning in negativity.
3. Become active
Exercise and proper nutrition should be looked at, not as a quick fix, but as an ongoing way to make our tomorrow a little better and as an aid to facilitate our other therapeutic endeavors. We are then less likely to give up after a short time because we are not expecting an instant cure, just a little more control over our emotions and our life situation. You don’t have to run a marathon – just a daily walk for 30 minutes can be a huge step in the right direction.
Overeating, starving, and binge drinking are all ways we use to suppress our feelings. When feelings are suppressed, they eventually emerge later in other ways – such as through depression. By overeating, you are just putting off feelings that need to be dealt with. Think of it like this: every time you eat/starve when you are not hungry, you are trying to suppress your feelings which will, in turn, make you eat/starve more. Next time you are going to starve or eat your feelings away, think of a phrase like this: “I want my feelings to come out so I can deal with them – if I eat/starve now I will be hurting myself and making the problem worse. Because of this I am going to wait until my next meal.” You will be surprised how quickly your eating habits come under control with this thinking. Try to eat a balanced meal three times a day with no snacks in between. Remember that hunger is not a bad thing – it is a natural physical reaction to having processed all of the food you have eaten. NOTE: I am not suggesting you go on a health food diet – I believe you should eat whatever you want – as long as you only eat a small portion.
1. Control your thinking
Another thing is to consider removing the word “depressed” from your vocabulary. Instead, think of these feelings as low moods. The term “depression” has so much baggage attached to it – by thinking of your feelings as a “low mood” you are more easily able to appreciate the fact that there are also high moods. Low moods seem more controllable.