Top five strategies to overcome depression
Did you know that almost 17.3% of people suffer from depression every year? While there are still no definitive answers to why, many researchers indicate that depression is caused by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. This problematic condition does not discriminate. It can begin anytime, in any race or gender, and at any income level.
Strategies to overcome depression
Battling depression can be quite overwhelming. Everything feels more challenging when you’re dealing with depression. From dressing up for work, socializing with friends over a drink, or even just getting out of bed and looking forward to a new day can often feel like a struggle.
While taking the first step is always the hardest, all it takes is a little bit of determination to win this battle.
Below are a few strategies to help you cope with depression and take it head-on. By following these simple yet effective strategies, you’ll soon notice the heavy fog of despair lifting and feel happier, healthier and content once again.
1. Know thyself
From simple daily journals where you pour your heart out to gratitude and even affirmative journals, writing is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to cope with depression. Expressing yourself in a journal can bring your thoughts and feelings to the surface. When you feel entangled in the web of your thoughts, worries and anxieties, putting them down on paper allows you to cut down the chaos. It empowers you, realizing that all your worries are manageable, ultimately making you feel content almost instantly. Alternatively, regular journaling also helps you recognize when you feel worse and need extra help.
Apart from coping with depression, keeping a journal helps deal with overwhelming emotions. It provides a positive outlet to help you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Moreover, by engaging in penning down your thoughts, you allow yourself the opportunity for positive self-talk and start feeling better almost instantaneously.
Choose a time when you feel most comfortable and free from distractions. This could be during the early morning hours. Take a few deep breaths, and pour your heart out on the paper for 20 minutes every day.
2. Exercise and depression
Studies indicate that engaging in regular physical activity is extremely beneficial for people diagnosed with clinical depression. As an individual battling depression, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do, even though it may help boost your mental health. But did you know that exercise is known to directly impact the cortical areas of the brain, which regulate emotions, the way you think, and how you perceive the outside world? Moreover, regular physical activity increases the neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, making you feel energized, happy and motivated.
Alternatively, research indicates how regular exercise can take your mind off stress and promote self-worth to help you deal with challenging situations. Not only this, but regular physical activity makes you tougher and more resilient. It allows your body to learn to move past one’s comfort zone. So, when you face challenging situations, your mind automatically releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, increasing your determination and motivation to succeed. So even if you are struggling to convince yourself to get to the gym right away, you can always start small. Begin with simple exercises like:
- Swimming or even
Remember! The goal is to remain consistent and keep pushing yourself every day and incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
3. Social Connections Matter!
As social creatures, building relationships and connections is one of the most fundamental needs for any human being. Mental health challenges like depression and anxiety can force one to feel hopeless, isolated and practically invisible. But having friends and family to fall back on shows that the opposite is true.
Even research indicates that a social network helps decrease the feeling of depression and hopelessness. This, in turn, promotes a sense of belonging and fulfils an important emotional need. Forging stronger ties with friends and staying connected with family that you can count on can go a long way toward combatting depression. Having supportive loved ones plays a vital role in your mental well-being, from having someone to share all your problems or someone to fall back on when you feel low.
However, for those who aren’t in a position to enjoy this privilege, a depression support group can be the key. Having a solid support network of friends and family is the key to maintaining your mental well-being and coping with depression.
4. Improving your sleep hygiene
Did you know that almost 80% of people suffering from depression experience sleep disturbances? Maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential, especially if you are battling depression. It is the key to improving both the quality and quantity of your sleep. However, there may be times when you just can’t fall asleep or perhaps struggle to get out of bed because you are too tired. Not only this, but suffering from depression can make it challenging to stick to a routine.
Keeping a consistent bedtime and wake time sets aside the requisite 7-9 hours of sleep and gives your body the opportunity for a whole night of sleep. Additionally, establishing a nightly routine provides a cue for your body to begin winding down and prime itself for sleep. Apart from sticking to a routine, there are other ways to improve your sleep hygiene which ultimately help you to cope with depression. These include (but are not limited to)
- Avoiding stimulants like caffeine, sugary drinks and even alcohol before going to bed
- Limiting screen time to at least an hour before you go to bed
- Creating a perfect sleep environment in your bedroom
- Using dim lights at night while you read a book
- Meditating just before going to bed
Remember! Depression is the most common mental disorder, affecting almost 18 million Americans a year. However, following proper sleep therapy aids in coping with depression to a great extent.
5. Eating Healthy
Studies indicate that eating a healthy, balanced diet is yet another way to help you overcome depression. The food we eat has a direct impact on our mood. Thus, reducing your food intake or not meeting your daily nutritional requirements can adversely affect your brain. So to avoid feeling irritable and cranky, make sure that you don’t skip meals.
Alternatively, vitamins and minerals also play a crucial role in boosting mental health. So try to include food rich in Vitamin B, C and D. Many times, deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can also trigger depression.
To avoid this, try to include a lot of leafy greens, fruits and beans in your diet. Apart from vitamins, one also needs to include minerals like magnesium, zinc and selenium for the proper functioning of the brain.
Not only this, but try and avoid refined carbs and sugary snacks that provide temporary energy. Instead, opt for foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, known to help in mood-stabilizing. Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and even fish oil supplements.
While the strategies mentioned above have proven to help a great deal in coping with depression, they may not suit everyone. If your condition worsens or goes downhill, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Clinical Depression can often require professional treatment. A therapist can help you find the most helpful treatment for your specific symptoms.