10 Tips for Managing Depression

April 18, 2016

Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible.

You can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself each day.

1. Get moving

When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone exercising. But exercise is a powerful depression fighter—and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well.

2. Eat a healthy diet

There is a strong link between diet and mood. Eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help support emotional well-being. Foods to avoid or limit include sugary and processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol, which can all negatively impact mood.

3. Practice good sleep hygiene

Sleep has a powerful effect on mood. When you don’t get enough sleep, your depression symptoms can be worse. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.

4. Challenge negative thinking

Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself, the situation you’re in, and your expectations for the future. But you can’t change the way you see things if you’re always thinking negatively. When you have a negative thought, challenge it by asking yourself questions like: “Is this really true?” “What’s the evidence that this thought is true?” and “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?”

Try using this worksheet to help get you started.

5. Build a strong support system

Depression can make you want to withdraw from others and isolate yourself. But reaching out to friends, family, or a mental health professional is important. Surrounding yourself with positive people can help improve your mood and build your resilience.

6. Do things that make you feel good

In order to overcome depression, it’s important to do things that make you feel good. This can be anything from going for a walk in nature to reading a book to watching your favorite movie. Take time to do things you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it.

7. Manage stress

Stress can worsen depression symptoms, so it’s important to manage stress in your life. This can be done through relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing, making time for fun and relaxation, and prioritizing self-care.

8. Set realistic goals

When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. But taking on too much at once can actually make depression worse. Instead, start small by setting realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate small victories and build momentum from there.

9. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of staying present in the moment and focusing on the here and now. It can help you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, breathing exercises, and other techniques.

10. Seek professional help

If you’re struggling with depression, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you to develop a treatment plan that works for you. This may include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Vogel, J. (2016, April 18). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201604/10-practical-ways-overcome-depression

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