Updated: Sep 19, 2020
I would describe depression as feeling numb, filling your mind with negative thoughts and allowing your energy to slip away. I cannot predict when it is going to develop or how long it will last, but it doesn't fail to consume every aspect of my life. Anyone who has been clinically diagnosed with depression or have experiences with this can attest. However, depression does not have to define us.
I was a sophomore in High School when I first came to terms with my depression. In starting a conversation with my parents, I learned more about the depression history within my family tree and just how important is was for me to receive help. It comes in cycles… for months at a time I will feel my best and find strength in the mental health care I receive. But as soon as I slip into the darkness, a single thought as a trigger, it is unpredictable how long I will feel that way or how I will make a healthy come back. My depression was at its worst state when I went off to college, out of state and away from my comfort zone. Drastic changes affect my mental health the most and unlike my previous experiences, I could not get through it alone. This lead to me shifting the course of my life entirely, transferring home and taking time to recover once again. In the seven months I lived home and commuted to school, I learned a lot about how to take control of my depression and live life to the fullest. In my following endeavors, returning to a University, Colorado State, and seeking a life I could be proud of, I continued to grow and heal using the tools I gained while living at home.
Regardless of your mental health history or current situations, these tips for ways to deal with depression can be applied to all health struggles. No two experiences are the same and I do not give this advice with the assumption it applies to all cases. However, these steps I have taken time and time again to battle with my depression have, in my life, proven its effectiveness and helped me grow stronger.
1. Be grounded in your faith.
My relationship with God has always been the foundation of my life. However, in my darkest times it is easy to blame him or let the pain push him away. Worst of all, this only makes it hurt more. Trusting God and seeking his guidance gives me the strength to keep going. Having faith represents hope in my battle and reminds me I am not alone. Draw closer to God when you are struggling with depression.
2. Develop a routine.
When I am feeling depressed, I lose all motivation and find it difficult to simply get out of bed in the morning. However, I fall deeper into this negative state when I cave into these temptations. Becoming behind on tasks, canceling plans, and giving up makes me feel distant from my community and struggle to find a reason to get up. Waking up and having a set routine, even if it is just to go get coffee and go to the gym, allows me to find purpose in the day. Even if I feel crappy, I remain in tune with my surroundings and remove any potential stress of falling behind. Write a to do list create an agenda and stick to it.
3. Live a healthy lifestyle.
Living a healthy lifestyle allows you to release endorphins and gain confidence. Receiving proper nutrients, getting a workout in, and engaging with your body can allow you to cultivate energy and motivation you didn’t have before. Your physical health directly correlate with your mental health and stands as a natural way to control mental health struggles.
4. Receive therapy.
It is important to talk about your struggles with either an expert or someone you can place your trust in. You should never have to feel alone when dealing with depression and often people can unveil the root of their sad emotions through verbal expression. Bottling it up only creates anxiety. I recommend everyone should receive therapy every once in a while to gain relief, however if you struggle with mental health issues, visiting a therapist should become a priority.
5. Dressing up every day.
You can’t look your best everyday, and I am not suggesting you dress to the nines whenever you leave the house. However, the confidence I gain from a good appearance fuels me for the day. Putting on makeup and arranging an outfit is a simple way to spark my creativity. It also nourishes my dignity when all else seems to be failing. You may feel ugly on the inside, but you do not have to feel the same on the outside.
6. Take medication or find natural remedies.
If a prescription medication to endorse stimulation is offered, I recommend giving it a chance. In my experience, taking medication has helped me significantly in feeling happier and more engaged in my surroundings. It does not solve everything and requires sacrifices to be made, however depression is a disorder that cannot be controlled fully without pharmaceutical assistance. It is important to experiment with different types of stimulant prescriptions given some may work better for you than another. If medication is not in the cards for you or your depression has not been clinically diagnosed, you can also use natural remedies to endorse stimulation. I recommend using essential oils, regardless of how they are applied, given they are natural and can induce health in multiple ways.
7. Find a common outlet.
I have heard many people say going for walks or listening to music makes them automatically feel better. For me, driving is my common outlet. There is something about concentrating on the road, listening to music, controlling the temperature of the car, and taking time to reflect that gives me peace. Figure out whatever helps you and do it whenever you are feeling your worst.
8. Keep things clean.
This isn’t something that comes easy for me. I have tendencies of dropping my clothes on the floor, leaving bags in my car, and pushing it to the point of no return when it comes to my organization. However, there is no feeling like walking into a clean home. When my home and car are clean, I have one less task to worry about. Keeping everything clean not only can help distract from your depression, but induces relaxation and can provide a comfortable place to escape.
9. Take time to be alone.
If you are like me and love to be around people/have a fear of missing out when you are away, this one is especially difficult. But taking time to myself allows me to recharge, regroup. I advice you find a comfortable place you can escape to, tune out the world and restore the social energy you lost.
10. Remind yourself of your good memories and personal successes.
A lack of confidence is a key component of dealing with depression. The negative thoughts running through my mind leave me feeling unworthy and somewhere along the way I lose myself. This may be the most difficult tip to accomplish, but remember all the good memories and personal successes that have positively shaped you. This might look like keeping a journal, writing down joyous memories in your notes app on your phone, scrapbooking your favorite photos, or simply having a quote on hand that reminds you of a good moment.
You are not flawed in your depression, but beautiful in your will power. Do not let society define your standards of success. You may have to face these struggles and fight to feel like you are enough daily, but you deal with depression because God knew you were strong and courageous to handle it. Trust in your abilities, your beauty, and never let depression dim your light.
If you feel these tips helped in anyway, please let me know in the comments. Have any suggestions on how to deal with depression or overcome mental health? We were not meant to deal with these issues alone, so please feel welcome to share your experience.