I have walked a long journey with depression and anxiety and by this day I’ve come to realise that sometimes I need a good pack of tools to help me cope with my destructive thinking and low mood. When an anxiety attack comes I’m not very likely to start searching for something to boost my mood so it is handy to sneak these working coping methods into the mind so if we are lucky they might just pop out in the right moment. When you feel that you aren’t good enough and everyone else is judging you even though they don’t admit it, it’s definitely time get something positive going on and tackle the beast.
Here are some methods that I’ve found effective for me. You might have some tools of your own and I would love to hear about those!
1. Limit your negative media intake
This first one is very much about cutting out the negatives which might not be happening to us but are effecting our mind set. This can be anything from daily news to sad music or triggering films and I have to admit that I am into every single one of these. Sometimes I’m a bad mood junkie. If I feel down and worthless I have a bad habit of boosting the feeling with depressive music or binge watching tv shows about depression, mental illnesses and eating disorders. It’s horrible, I know it doesn’t help me feel any better and I’m trying to get rid of this habit.
Instead I take time when I’m not keeping up with the news. Sometimes it feels tricky when people are often all about knowing what is happening in the world, but I don’t have to know it all the time. Also reading an interesting book instead of watching telly gives me a sense that I’m doing something productive and not just sitting on the couch. Time with a good book is never wasted. Instant mood booster!
Sit down, clear your mind and focus. Go through your body paying attention to all stiffness and physical reactions. Is your heart racing? Maybe your shoulders are as hard as rock? Take deep breaths and focus on relaxing your body. As a bonus your mind should calm down and you’ll feel much better after just few minutes. If you don’t then do not blame yourself, few minutes meditation will at least reduce the stress and let your body catch up. You can try to think about what is making you depressed at the moment but on the other hand you can concentrate on nice things and think about all the good stuff that makes a life worth of living.
3. Call a friend/sister/brother/dad/granny…
Talking with someone dear and understanding is a great idea when you are depressed. It’s a little bit hard for me because I don’t want to land my problems on anyone else’s shoulders. I like to talk with my granny who is such a great lady and always has some perspective. We don’t really talk about my problems but hearing how she is doing usually makes me feel better. Who is your rock?
Sometimes it’s the good old sleep that helps you get through the lows. Sleep deprivation is connected with depression so calling it a day and shutting down for a moment can be helpful. If you have trouble with getting up from a nap you can try to set up an alarm and place it somewhere far enough that you have to get off from the bed or couch when it rings. If you are still feeling low after some sleep then maybe try something else on the list.
5. Go outside and get moving
I like to run. It helps me clear my mind and gives me time to think and exercise also releases endorphins. For me the important thing to keep in mind is that running shouldn’t be a way to punish myself from feeling or living. It’s a treat, me-time and fresh air does do good.
6. Eat something healthy and tasty
How about being nice to yourself and making sure that you fuel your body and mind the best way possible? When I am depressed I usually grave for something unhealthy that can lead to very bad decisions and even worse mood. Candies, cakes, whipped cream, ice-cream, basically anything sweet with sugar and carbs. If I fall to that I’m going to end up hating myself so much more and eating disorder monsters start to lurk around. So instead I go for apples and peanut butter (which is darn good) as a better option.
7. Allow yourself to be depressed
This is something that I’ve found quite important during the years. It’s so easy to think that you are just being selfish and making a scene of yourself when you are depressed and feeling down. My mum has a great talent of making me feel bad about my illness, she uses the phrases like “You have everything, why should you be depressed?” and “There are people who have it much worse than you so get a grip”. Needless to say it’s not very helpful and I’m really sorry if you have faced same kind of situations. I know that you know that depression or any mental illness isn’t a matter of choice so there isn’t reason to blame yourself even if other people sometimes make it seem otherwise. Convincing yourself that there isn’t anything major going on because of what other people say can actually kick back hard, so I think it is vital to allow yourself to be depressed. It’s not something that defines you, it won’t be around for all of your life but it is there now. Know that it is okay. Keep calm.
8. Pamper yourself
Take a bath, make yourself hot chocolate, put on a face mask… Possibilities are endless! I know that if you are like me treating yourself with something nice isn’t usually the first option when you are feeling low. Usually it is the moment when you feel like you don’t deserve even the tiniest nice thing in the world, but believe me, you do and you shouldn’t feel bad about pampering yourself. Life is already full of difficult things, sad events and unfortunate obscures, so being nice to yourself isn’t going to do any harm.
9. Clean something
For me cleaning makes me feel that I have control over something. It can be anything; putting dirty clothes into a basket, maybe even putting them into laundry machine, carrying the books you’ve been hoarding next to your bed back to the shelf or taking the trash out. Change clean sheets to your bed or straighten that pillow on the armchair. The list is endless and if you are anything like me then you probably have few problem areas in your home where things just keep piling on. Every small thing counts when it comes to coping and tidy home helps to achieve tidy mind!
10. Do nice things for other people
When you feel like shit doing something nice for other people just because it is nice can make you feel so much better. Making someone else happy is a great way to lift up your mood. Can you argue that when you make tea for your spouse without being asked and then deliver the hot cuppa to them and see the smile and hear an honest ‘thank you’, that you can still feel bad about yourself? I can’t. Good mood escalates fast and easily and positive action attracts positive thoughts.
“Three is a party!”
For even more effective mood fix you can always combine things. Cleaning something can also serve as doing something nice for other people. Allowing yourself to be depressed and meditating can lead to deeper understanding of yourself and serve you well and maybe it gives you new tools to cope. Mixing and matching with mood boosting tools is as great thing as finding a 3 for 2 deal of my favourite underwear.
How do you cope with depression? Do you have any tricks you would like to share? Let me know!