Coping With Depression
So many people are struggling with sad/depressed mood, feelings of hopeless, lack of motivation, feelings of unworthiness, and loneliness. In my private practice, I have had the privilege of helping people in a private, comfortable space. I wanted to share some suggestions from research and practice in psychology related to coping skills for depression. While these suggestions do not cure depression, research has demonstrated that they are effective in elevating mood.
Any time you need a mood boost, try one of these things:
- Spend a time in gratitude and think about one person, object, relationship, or experience for which you are grateful. Research demonstrates that practicing gratitude not only helps elevate mood in the moment by focusing on what is GOOD and what is going RIGHT, but when practiced regularly, it has long-term positive effects and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. One study found that after just 21 days, people who were diagnosed with clinical depression reported significant elevations in their mood when using a gratitude journal. But two things need to happen. First, what you write down needs to be specific. In other words, instead of writing, “I am grateful for my friend”, write, “I am grateful for my friend because she is a wonderful listener. Second, write something different every day. This helps you retrain your brain by scanning the environment to see the good. This is the purpose of my Gratitude Bracelet. When you purchase that bracelet, it comes with a free 21 day Gratitude Journal with writing prompts.
- Think about one of your favorite experiences, remembering it in as much detail as possible, drawing upon all of your senses. Did you know that the brain cannot distinguish the difference between living an event and remembering an event??? How cool is that? That is why this is so powerful. The same neurotransmitters fire in your brain, resulting in elevated mood.
- Think about one person you can reach out to today to say thank you, give a compliment, or say, “I am thinking about you.” Make a phone call, send a text, write and email, or mail a card or letter. This is important because we are social beings, and social connectedness helps to foster happiness and fulfillment in life.
- Exercise. This is probably the most effective way of elevating mood. There are countless studies demonstrating the proven mental health benefits of exercise. Find something you enjoy doing, and make the time in your day to do it. The simplest is walking. For an instant mood boost, go for a walk in nature, and better yet, with a friend. Studies demonstrate that walking in nature with others is associated with less perceived stress and improved overall emotional well-being. What do you like to do? Walk, run, bike, hike, stretch, swim, yoga, spinning, dance? Find a group – Facebook, Meet Up, etc. Put it on your calendar and keep it like it is an appointment.
- Do not compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to zap your happiness. You may be so happy with your belongings, your achievements, your successes, and as soon as you compare yourself to someone you perceive as having/being/doing more, your joy is zapped. In an instant. Just like that. Gone. Remember the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. It is SO true. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on yourself and your own goals. Remember that if you have a tendency to compare yourself to others, social media exacerbates this. Pay attention to how you feel after being on social media. Most people feel better when they limit their usage.
- Hope. When all else fails, hope. And there will be days when hope is all you have left. Hope for better days ahead, hope for less emotional or physical pain, hope after lost love. The healing power of hope cannot be underestimated. I love the saying, “When the world says, ‘Give up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try one more time.’”
I have designed a special bracelet for coping with depression. It comes in an organza pouch, with the first three of these suggestions listed on the inspirational/instructional enclosed card.
If you or anyone you know is in need of mental health support, here are some resources:
Please feel free to share with anyone you know who could use this information.
Mental health matters.