Recovering from depression of any kind can sometimes be a long and stressful journey, there is not a clear beginning, middle or end.
Some people might experience one depressive episode in their life, but with others they may have another episode or may have recurring symptoms of depression for most, if not all of their life.
Finding treatments and ways to manage your depression is key to staying well through the recovery process. While finding a great psychologist, and/or undertaking medical treatments or natural therapies may help, there are many other ways we can keep ourselves well.
Managing depression (or any mental illness) can be a real struggle, and we often find it hard to find perspective on our own, and the very nature of having depression makes it really hard to reach out, and the thought of asking for help from family and friends can be overwhelming.
You might be feeling ashamed, too exhausted to talk or even guilty for neglecting relationships. We must remind ourselves that this is the depression talking and that our loved ones love us, and they are always there to help us.
Often when we are depressed it is easy for us to retreat into our shell and shut everyone out. This is actually when we should remember to turn to a family member or a friend and let them know that we aren’t doing so well.
It is our most treasured relationships that we should hold on to as they can get us through this tough time.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
I know managing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the average person is difficult, and when having a mental health condition it can make eating well even harder.
Trying to keep meals small and preparing meals ahead of time using fresh and good quality ingredients when you have the energy, is a great way to make sure you are getting a well-balanced diet.
Avoiding high levels of alcohol and other drugs will also help in the management of your depression.
Also trying to do some physical exercise per day – walking, swimming, dancing, yoga etc – is a great way to relax your mind, relieve stress and distract yourself from negative thoughts and worries.
The best way to plan your activities is to keep them enjoyable, something that you find interesting, relaxing or satisfying. Although you may not find these activities as enjoyable as they once were, with persistence you will slowly find the joy in them again, and they will become part of your daily routine and part of your depression management.
I also find the use of relaxation techniques can help relieve the symptoms of depression. The techniques of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation are some of the techniques I have used in the past and I have found incredibly helpful. I also mix my relaxation techniques with good old Vitamin D, aiming to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day can boost your mood.
Depression and sleep problems go hand in hand, but it is essential to restore a regular sleep pattern. Too much sleep or too little will affect your mood.
Trying to get yourself up at the same time every morning, allowing yourself to wind down before going to bed and, much like our little ones, keeping a regular sleep schedule will help in the aid of restoring your sleep patterns.
Getting over setbacks
Often we can feel like we are taking one step forward, two steps back when we are depressed, and we can fall into a trap of thinking we are never going to feel ‘normal’ again.
We must remember through this stage that there are ways to move through it.
We shouldn’t blame ourselves, remember that setbacks happen and that we should remain persistent and that managing depression can be about trial and error. We should at this time focus on what we have achieved thus far, i.e. taking the positive step of seeing a psychologist.
Learning from our setbacks can help us evaluate our situations and helps us find new ways to manage our condition. This can help us be able to cope with our depression and may be able to help us prevent future setbacks.
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