Depression is the number one mental health condition across the globe. It has many underlying causes, and people experience it in different severities. While depression is often treated with therapy and/or psychiatric medications, there are things you can do on your own that will help to improve symptoms of depression. These activities will help improve current symptoms of depression, and can help prevent symptoms from returning.
1. Physical Activity
Research has shown moderate physical activity to be as effective as antidepressants for treating mild to moderate major depressive disorder. Plus, not only do you get the antidepressant benefits of the exercise, you get all the physical benefits too. Your energy levels will likely improve, as well as your ability to concentrate and your sleep quality. Now don’t think this means you have to go work out at the gym for an hour in order to get the benefits. Just a 20 minute walk around your neighborhood is enough to improve your mood. I get that even a 20 minute walk sounds like a ton of work and pretty overwhelming when you’re feeling depressed, so if you need to start with a 5 minute walk, that’s fine too. You’ll still get benefits from that, and doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
2. Creative Expression/Enjoyable Activities
Engaging in activities that are creative or that are just for fun can improve your mood as well. Typically, if you’ve been feeling depressed, this is an area of your life that you’ve been ignoring. It may be difficult at first to do these things, and you may not find them as fun as you used to. However, if you keep trying them in small doses, chances are, you will start to find the joy in them again.
3. Be Social
One symptom of depression is withdrawing from people you care about. Currently, with COVID-19 running rampant, we are all more withdrawn and isolated than ever before. This is taking an emotional toll on everyone. Humans are social creatures and we need interaction to maintain our emotional health. It may not be possible to gather in person with friends and family right now, but make sure to stay in contact with people as much as possible. Use video conferencing so that you can actually see people’s faces when you talk in order to feel more connected.
4. Practice Gratitude
Far too often, we forget to show gratitude for the things in our lives that are good. It’s so easy to focus on the negative aspects of life, or things that go wrong. You can make a commitment to being grateful just by writing one thing down each day that you are grateful for.
Additionally, simply thinking about the things you have in your life that bring you joy and contentment can make a big difference in your sense of hope and peace. Depression often causes feelings of hopelessness, and gratitude is a direct way to fight against that feeling.
5. Mindfulness/Deep Breathing/Meditation Practice
There are several ways to incorporate mindfulness, deep breathing, or meditation practices into your life. Apps like Headspace and Calm focus on these practices and can help you to engage in these activities for just a few minutes per day. Engaging in these exercises helps you to stay focused in the present moment, not get caught up in negative thought patterns, and to relax and release stress from the day.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to improve symptoms of depression. Although depression might seem unavoidable at times, it doesn’t mean you have to live with overwhelming symptoms each day.
If you’re struggling with depression and having difficulty managing symptoms on your own, feel free to contact me to talk about it. We can discuss your situation and whether therapy might be a good fit in order to help you get a handle on what you’re going through.