As each year passes, our population swells by thousands. Within that population there will always be a certain baseline percentage of people who experience depression. However, in more recent years, depression has become almost the de facto state of feeling for many millions of people just here in the United States. Depression is common, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. Knowing there are people out there just like you, or even me sometimes, can make soften the blow a bit. It still takes choice to move through it, and the sticky bit about depression, is the accompanying hopelessness. Once that takes hold, it becomes so much more difficult to choose to take action against against this illness.
There is no magic bullet, no single answer or remedy, for depression. Medications can be great for many; therapy to just as many, if not more. The first choice we must make is how we will interact with our depression. At first, it’s interacting with us, overcoming our baseline sense, creating periods of inactivity and demotivation that can last minutes or hours to days, weeks, and months. Months can turn into years and before we know it, inaction has paralyzed us. Like most illnesses, early identification and intervention contribute to better outcomes. The more negativity you have to dwell on, the more we dwell upon it.
Making a choice to recognize the pattern, and doing something about it, can be a little frightening at first. If you’re not quite willing to take the plunge and enter into formal care, you should know depression is manageable if you can make the choice to challenge it. You can choose to interact with your depression one moment at a time, much the way an addict approaches the relationship with their drug of choice. For that, there are some tips, though again, none are the panacea. Here are some things you can do to fend off your negativity, if you’re willing to give it a shot.
- Don’t isolate. You are not an island. Whether you recognize it or not, you were born into a society of some kind. Human beings aren’t born nor exist in a vacuum. You’re no exception to that, and trying to prove otherwise will be fruitless. That said, don’t try to go it alone. When you only let one voice in, you only get one voice out. Being your own echo chamber won’t get anything done. Find your closest friend, your ride-or-die, your confidant, and just exist. Don’t set a goal right now or try to purposely make change. Just be in that moment. Maybe watch a movie together. Share a tub of ice cream. Swap war stories (we’ve all got them). A person is said to be well-adjusted if they have just one good friend. Reach out to yours.
- Be creative. Consider your artistic side. When we’re down, we may not be in the best headspace to hop on social media and write up a storm, but we might be able to pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and have at it. Journal if that helps. Draw the images in your mind. Don’t worry about what it all means. None of that matters at all right now. Express yourself in a way that is safe, personal, and meaningful. If you want to, share that with someone special in your life.
- Remember the good times. Every single one of us carries around an object we’re all still collectively calling a “phone” for some reason. We know better though, it’s a camera, and boy do we use it all the time. When was the last time you opened up your photos and scanned through all those pictures you’ve taken over the years? You kept those photos because they had a memory attached to them, and I’m willing to bet, it’s a good memory most of the time. If you’re not a part-time photographer or selfie-artist, call up a friend and reminisce about the good old days. Talk about what brought you together, or what makes your friendship important to each other. Recalling good memories reminds us we weren’t always like this, and that can give us hope.
- Use self-soothing. I wouldn’t be a good DBT therapist if I didn’t suggest at least one of the tools. Sometimes our depression can get fairly intense, bothersome. It can help to be in our present and check-in with our senses. Let your eyes find the things they enjoy. Listen to your favorite playlist. Light a scented candle you enjoy. Create something with your hands. Order your favorite comfort food. What you put in determines what you get out, and the same rules apply to you. A small change to appeases just one sense can go a long way to changing your overall mood for the better.
- Practice self-care. The term “self-care” has become ubiquitous in our culture, and for good reason. It’s one of the best remedies for another term you may also be familiar with-“burnout”. While broadly defines, everyone has things that make them feel good. Maybe it’s taking a really long bath. It could be practicing an instrument. Do you like video games? Taking a walk can be a great, light workout and a great way to spend your time. Self-care includes both taking care of yourself physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. Identify an activity or two that “improves” you in one of those ways. Do it as often as you can muster. No pressure.
If you made it this far, I’m glad you did. I hope that the next time you’re feeling a bit down, you’ll consider what you’ve read. Thanks for stopping by the site today. I really appreciate it.
Be well, and Stay Lifted.