The pandemic has caused a tsunami of mental health impacts, including a huge increase in depression. Whether or not it is clinical depression, it doesn’t feel good. Depression is a multi-faceted condition which impacts the body, mind, soul and spirit. Which requires a holistic approach to feel better. Here are some keys for dealing with the blues/depression that you might be experiencing:
- Don’t Wait ‘Til You Feel Better — it’s common to get stuck in depression and lack motivation to do anything different. However the depressed feelings get created by what we are thinking about and how we’re behaving so we need to do some steps even if we don’t feel like it. As you start challenging the depressive thought patterns and doing some things that you know typically make you feel better, the feelings will come.
- Check Your Thoughts — depression worsens in the mind with a bunch of different thought patterns. These include such depressive thought patterns as: all or nothing thinking, magnifying the negative, dismissing the positive and negative forecasting.
- Replace Your Thoughts — it’s not just enough to notice the negative thought patterns we have but to actively change them. This is a wonderful part of the brain’s flexibility. We can change, essentially ‘re-wire’ the brain to focus on something else. Think about it like changing an oil filter. When we replace the filter with a new one it automatically improves the performance of our car.
- Get Out of the House — nature is healing and holds beauty. Whether you spend some time in the yard, go for a walk or look at flowers in a park, this helps us to feel better and breathes new life into our soul. It doesn’t make the depression go away but it helps to recharge your being so that it does go away.
- Eat a Balanced Diet and Do Some Activity whether you feel like it or not. When we’re depressed we often eat or sleep too much or too little. Putting some structure into place with eating and sleep can help our body to recover.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Depression is full of feelings. Give yourself some time to notice the feelings even if they are heavy and unpleasant. “This is just how I’m feeling right now…” and that’s okay. If you start to get stuck in them, put the feelings aside and go engage with your day. It’s not denying the feelings but directing yourself out of the mire. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes to validate the feelings then put them aside (some people even symbolically put them in a box or write them on a piece of paper and literally put them in a box and set it aside where you can look at it again tomorrow). This is called compartmentalizing and is very helpful for working your way through depression.
Get Help When You Need it. Depression is treatable! The best outcomes are with therapy and medication when needed. Don’t try to just push it through all by yourself. Reach out to a friend or join an online/in-person support group. See a therapist for a few sessions. Read some resources/books on depression or listen to them on Audible if you can’t seem to focus.