Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Ways I Cope With Depression

If you have depression or have struggled with it in the past, you'll know that just when you think you have everything under control and you're doing well managing your depression, that's when a bout of depression will kick in. So I was feeling really good about life when suddenly a wave of depression seemed to hit me out of nowhere.

How did I get through it? By taking time to practice self-care and looking at what coping skills I'm using, if they're working for me, and what new coping skills I could adopt to better help me deal with my depression at the moment. I thought this list might help you guys out, even if you don't struggle specifically with depression. We could all use more ways of dealing with emotions in a healthy way, right?

10 Ways I Cope with Depression from Courtney's Little Things

Watch a funny movie or TV show. This is a great distraction for me when I'm depressed. Even on my worst day, a comedy can make me smile.

Clean or straighten up. Living in a messy apartment can stress me out, so tidying up just helps to alleviate some of those feelings. It also helps to get me up and doing something.

Do something creative. Painting, drawing, decorating my planner, and blogging are all creative things I love to do. For me this is part of self-care and taking time to do something I love.

5 Senses. I mentioned this in a previous post, and this really is something I like to do when I'm having a rough time. Sometimes I'll be walking to class and all of a sudden get this overwhelming feeling like "oh god, I can't do this. everyone's looking at me and they know something's wrong with me." When that happens it helps to take a deep breath, walk slowly, and take in all 5 senses. So I start listing what I see (the library, people walking to class...), what I hear (birds, people talking with friends...), what I feel (the breeze outside, the fabric of my shirt on my skin...), and so on. It really helps to get me "out of my head" and focused on the reality of what's going on around me.

Go to the gym or for a walk. I feel like most of us have heard before that exercising is super good for you physically and mentally and that it releases endorphins which lift your mood. As difficult as this can be, if I can convince myself to go outside and take a walk or head to the gym I usually come back feeling a tad bit better.

Take care of myself. Taking a shower, cooking a nice meal, putting on lotion, getting to bed on time and sleeping a healthy amount of time. All these things are good ways to take care of yourself when you're struggling with depression. You have to take care of yourself.

Journal. One day I wrote down all the signs that I was depressed and what that looks like and feels like for me. It can be super difficult to describe it to other people (like my mom) and I'm not all that comfortable talking to a therapist about everything, so writing it down in a journal is a good way for me to be able to get it all out and be able to look at these things and find solutions or challenge those thoughts. It's also good to journal about coping skills you can use, ways you can practice self-care, positive things, things you're grateful for, or just your thoughts in general.

Think of one positive thing. The mornings tend to be the hardest for me because I have no motivation to get out of bed and I'd rather stay in the safety of my bed, so if I can think of one positive thing that's going to happen that day - something I'm excited about or interested in doing or even a reward I'll give myself for going to classes - it helps me to get out of bed and start the day. It also can help keep me going since I know I'll get to watch my favorite show that night or whatever it may be.

Take things one step at a time. Again mornings are the hardest for me, so sometimes I just have to take them one step at a time. So first I'll tell myself that all I have to do, all I have to focus on is taking a shower. Then I'll just focus on getting my breakfast and eating it, and so on and so on throughout the day. It can feel a little pitiful at first, but it really helps to get some momentum going and make the day seem less overwhelming.

Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positives. This can be a real challenge at first, but it helps so much when you're struggling. Maybe it's like the scenario I mentioned earlier where I'm walking to class and then all of a sudden get a bit panicky and overwhelmed. So I'll take the "oh god, I can't do this. everyone's looking at me and they know something's wrong with me" thought and start thinking about what I would tell a friend who said that. "No, that's not true. You can do this. All you have to do is go to class, sit there, and take a few notes. No one is looking at you. They're all just minding their own business, trying to get through the day, same as you." Going through that thought process can really help to take things down a few notches and helps improve your self-confidence.

So those are 10 ways I try to cope with and manage my depression when I'm having a rough time. I'm not a mental health expert or anything, but I hope that these give you some ideas so that you can better deal with bad days, too. If you are depressed, I would strongly suggest seeing a doctor or talking to a therapist in addition to these things and trying to manage it on your own.

Related Posts: Self Care Ideas, 7 Things that Help Calm Me