Ten top tips to cope with depression

One of the common symptoms of depression is the lack of will to do things. It sometimes feels easier just letting the time go and being active and taking actions seem to be the most challenging thing in the world. Overcoming depression is not easy and requires time and effort, but it’s not impossible. 

We highly recommend seeking professional help, but we know it sometimes takes time. In this post we want to give you a few tips on how to start coping with your depression on your own, both while you wait for treatment or during the therapy itself.

1. Surround yourself with supportive people
This is probably one of the most important points. You need people who care about you to help you getting perspective of things. These can be your family, partner or friends. Often our depressing thoughts are just exaggerated versions of the worst possible outcomes. Having someone near us who can guide us and have an honest talk about them with us, is just really important. They may not give us the answer to our problems but their listening and empathy is really needed. They also keep us engaged in a more social environment and provide the feeling of not being alone. Make sure you explain well to them what you’re going through. Depression is sometimes difficult to understand to those who have not suffered it before. Find some tips on how to explain your depression to a loved one here.

2. Take care of your body!
Eat healthy, do sports, keep your hygiene and sleep well. There are foods that can boost your mood as we already commented in a previous post. Also, avoiding alcohol is another good idea as this often causes a bad reaction in depressed people. Sports and, more generally, exercise have shown to help recovery from depression. You don't need to do a lot to start with but make sure you push your boundaries little by little. You can try walking 15 mins every day, or doing some cycling or dancing at home in front of YouTube. If you feel you are ready to get more engaged with other people, join a class in a local gym. Keeping up with your hygiene and grooming also raises our self-esteem. Take daily showers and wear clothes that make you feel confident. Sleeping well also helps us reconstituting our minds and bodies and therefore is really beneficial for our health. Lack of sleep can aggravate the negative thinking and feeling tired makes us feel weaker. If you can’t sleep or suffer from insomnia try getting yourself into routines or exercising a bit harder and using natural relaxants like valerian tea before bed. 

3. Have a routine
Sometimes depression makes us change our sleeping and eating patterns and everything seems to destabilise in our lives. Waking up at the same time, having a meals’ schedule and fitting in some action within our days, like an exercise or a class at a concrete time of the day, can help us change our mood. If we are out of work due to our depression, keeping a routine will help us coping better when we return to it.

4. Help others who need it or care for a pet
When we take care of others, we transfer the centre of attention from ourselves to those others. Either if it’s someone else who’s struggling too, some charitable work, elderly people, or a mascot, when we surround ourselves with them we learn to stop our negative thoughts to provide them with support and love. In the case of pets, we also create in ourselves that sense of being needed “what would it be of my cat if I was not here?”. Animals also have a lot of love to give back, so it’s all worth it!

5. Give yourself goals
Having something to fight for is usually a mood booster. When we are depressed, we often tend to negatively think about how we cannot do some things, that we are useless or that we cannot accomplish some targets. To prove yourself differently, set your own goals and get them done. You don’t need to start with complicated things, better focus in those you can achieve but take a little effort, like completing 15 mins exercise every day. You’ll feel better when you complete them and will be able to challenge yourself each day a bit more. Goals keep us motivated.

6. Meditate
Meditation has years of evidence behind it. Focus in your breathing, in your present body and helps calming down your mind. However you need to do this daily in order to learn how to do it properly and build a framework for yourself. If you have never done it before, you can learn it from our guided meditation technique, as well as other three techniques such as calm breathing, deep muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis in our app Be Stress Free.

7. Quit social media for a while!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… all the happy photos and statuses posted by our friends don't help. We tend to think that everyone is having an amazing life, are continuously happy, attending wild parties, eating delicious dishes every day, spending all their holidays in paradises and are successful at work or at play. Reality is very different. Nobody posts about their bad moments and comparing ourselves with these ideal versions of our friends lives can affect our self-esteem.

8. Sing and dance!
There’s plenty of evidence in the use of music as a therapy in mental well-being. Give those sad songs you can't dance to a miss though, those won't help! Find some positive up-tempo songs. Sing out loud, follow a dance routine in front of your laptop at home and try to laugh at yourself! If you end up feeling tired, even better! 

9. Learn something new
A language, a new skill like painting, a new craft or hobby; you name it. Often creative activities are used in the treatment of mental health problems and they work well. Also learning more about depression by researching online tutorials and forums can help you to overcome it. If you don’t feel well enough yet to learn anything new, try visiting new places, like museums or parks.

10. Check your assumptions

Depression produces a lot of bad and distorted thoughts. It lies to us. Therefore you need to stay calm and not to believe them. Whatever happened:

  • You cannot predict the future so don't assume it will all go badly. Hard to do when depressed but try to find times when you expected things to go badly and they didn't
  • You cannot read people's minds so don't assume they think the worst of you. People often don't.
  • You may be assuming that things are a lot worse than they are. This is normal in depression. Try to find things that are going well.
  • Don't ignore the good bits. Depression changes the way you remember things so you may be remembering all the bad bits and ignoring all the good bits. Write a journal forcing yourself to remember good bits only.
  • 'Should have, would have' type thoughts help nobody. You can't do anything about it and you don't really know how it would have turned out. Things are not perfect and they don't need to be. To think they can be is to set ourselves up for failure.
  • Just because one thing is not perfect it does not mean everything is ruined. Make an effort to see what is working out.

Do you have any other tips? Tweet us @thriveappsuk #deptip or comment here.