When you have depression, it can be difficult to do the things that will make you feel better. So how to manage depression when it you have little energy, drive or hope? Depression can suck you dry. Even just thinking about doing something like socialising with family and friends or taking care of your health can seem impossible.
Managing depression can feel like a no win situation. It is so difficult to do the things that will help you. But it is not impossible. When you learn how to manage depression you will realise you do have control, though the process can be slow and difficult. Just know that nothing is impossible. You need persistence. Take small steps daily and gradually build from there. Lacking energy is typical. Push through to make an effort to meet a friend for coffee or do the dishes. Achieving one small thing every day will give you a sense of satisfaction and a small victory over your depression.
The hardest thing is taking that first step forward when managing depression. Now is a good time to start. Get up and go out into the garden and pick some flowers or pull out any weeds growing there. Put the leash on your dog and go for a leisurely stroll around the block together. Get the idea? It is important to start with something simple and afterwards you will realise it boosted your mood and energy. This energy boost can be enough to take another step. Try preparing a delicious meal or spending quality time with family.
Ideas to help you learn how to manage depression
When you take positive steps every day, your depression may soon lift so you feel healthier and happier again, and more hopeful about the future.
There are medications and other treatments for managing treatment. But you can also help yourself. Here are some ideas to help you learn how to manage depression.
Stay active, physically exercise
When you feel depressed , you will not feel like being active. This can be because you think it will not make you feel better or you will not enjoy it. The thing is, when you make the effort to try, it can be a surprise just how much you get out of being active.
Getting out of bed can be difficult when depressed, let alone getting physical. Yet physical activity is a powerful antidepressant. Research shows how important exercise is for managing depression. It can almost be as effective as medication and can help prevent it creeping up on you again after you get well.
Start increasing your physical activity by:
- Listing all the activities you once enjoyed.
- Plan to do at least one activity every day.
- Keep increasing how long you spend doing what you enjoy.
- After completing an activity, consider what it is that gave you enjoyment.
- Discover from friends other activities they enjoy.
For the most benefit, the goal is to complete at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Even a short, 10-mnute walk can improve your mood and leave you feeling energised.
Getting physical is simple, you can start right now:
- It improves your fatigue. Using the excuse you are too tired and do not feel like it is your depression talking. But, in reality, you will feel more energised once you push yourself to get going.
- Continuous, rhythmic exercises are most beneficial. Exercises that are continuous and rhythmic are the most beneficial for managing depression. These are exercise where both your legs and arms are continually moving—walking, jogging, dancing and swimming.
- Find an exercise buddy. Find yourself an exercise buddy. It is always more fun and motivating to exercise with someone else. Play a game of tennis, take a dance or water aerobics class together.
- Take your dog for a walk. Taking your dog for a walk is rewarding for both of you. But if you do not have a dog, volunteer at your local animal shelter to help exercise and socialise them ready for adoption.
Challenge your negative thinking patterns
Negative thinking patterns go hand in hand with depression. You can feel powerless and weak unable to do anything about the bad situations that happen. Do you feel that everything is hopeless? Yes? Challenge how you feel. Depression can put a negative spin on everything and how you see the future. It makes you more vulnerable to negativity and distracts you from focusing on recovering.
Learn how to manage depression and negative thinking by:
- Not wasting time focusing on what you cannot do anything about.
- Focusing on the here and now. Acknowledge those negative thoughts but let them go without engaging with them.
- Writing down all your worries. Examine each one and consider whether your negative thoughts are realistic or not. Consider alternative explanations.
- Refraining from making any decisions when feeling this way.
When depression overwhelms you, it is important to remember negative thoughts are a symptom of how you feel. They are not realistic and only temporary. When you take a closer look at these types of thoughts, you can see how unrealistic they are. Still they can be difficult to ignore.
Telling yourself to think positively is not going to disrupt your pessimistic mindset. Often negative thinking is a lifelong pattern you may not even be aware of. You need to identify the type of negative thoughts that haunt you and replace them with more balanced thinking.
Do any of the following apply to you?
- Overgeneralising is when something negative happens once, and then you expect the same result every time. For example, “I can never trust anyone” or “I can never do it”.
- Making strict rules. Making a strict set of rules to live life by is a recipe for disaster when you beat yourself up for breaking your rules. For example, “I am a vegan and ate fish for dinner. I am no good at sticking with anything.”
- Discounting positive events. You keep justifying why positive events are irrelevant. For example, “Everyone loved the food I cooked last night, but they were only saying that so as not to hurt my feelings.”
- Too quick to make judgements. Jumping to negative conclusions is dangerous ground when you do not have the full story or all the evidence. It seems like you can read people’s minds when you think, “She must think I am an idiot”.
- Ignoring the positives. By ignoring the positives you never see what went well, only what went wrong. For example, “I forgot to get the rice while out shopping even though it was on the list. I am such an idiot.” But you got the rest of the items on your list.
- It is all or nothing. You look at things with a black or white perspective. There is no middle ground. For example, “I got a 4 out of 5 stars as a review for my work. No one will ever hire me again.” In reality four stars is good.
- Basing your reasoning on how you feel. By basing your reasoning on your emotions you believe that what you feel reflects what it is real. For example, “I feel so stupid. Everyone must be talking about me behind my back.”
- Assigning labels. You refer to yourself based on what you see as your inadequacies or mistakes. For example, “I am useless; stupid; a complete failure.”
Examine your thoughts. Once you identify the destructive thought patterns that fuel your depression, challenge them. Ask questions such as:
- Is there any evidence that makes this thought true or am I deceiving myself?
- If a friend thought this way, what would my advice be?
- Is there a different way to see the situation or a different explanation I missed?
- What would I think in this situation if I did not have depression?
As you interrogate your negative thinking, it may surprise you how quickly it falls apart. By carrying out this exercise, your perspective becomes more balanced which will make you feel better. It helps you with managing depression better
Avoid isolating yourself
Wanting to isolate yourself and withdraw from the world is another symptom of depression. But spending too much time alone without interacting with others may cause your depression to spiral out of control.
Staying connected to others is essential for managing depression even though it is difficult to reach out. You may not want to burden others with the way you feel or be ashamed to admit you have depression. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Those who love you want to support you. And if you feel alone, build a support network.
Reach out for support as part of managing depression. Make the effort even though you do not feel like it. It will make you will feel better. Try the following ideas:
- Prioritise face time. While social media, texting and phone calls are good, prioritise talking with those you care about face to face.
- Support someone else. While it is great to receive support, offering to support someone else is even better for relieving depression.
- Keep socialising. Socialising is probably the last thing you want to do. But doing the things you enjoy in the company of others will boost your mood.
- Sign up to a support group. By signing up to a depression support group, you can talk with others about how you feel and know they understand what you are going through. Share advice and coping strategies for managing depression with each other.
- Caring for a pet. While a pet does not replace human connection, they can bring you unconditional love and joy, and keep you company. Caring for a pet is a powerful way to help managing depression. They depend on you which will make you feel needed.
To stay connected:
- Volunteer to help someone else.
- Take a class or join a club to meet new people.
- Schedule a regular weekly catch up with a friend.
- Meet a friend for lunch.
- Tell a trusted friend how you feel.
- Contact an old friend you have not spoken to for a while.
- Take a walk with a friend.
- Ask someone to regularly check in with you.
- Go to the movies with a family member or friend.
- Confide in your minister.
Eat well, ditch the junk food
The food you eat impacts the way you feel. So ditch the junk food when managing depression. These foods are high in sugar and trans fats, and adversely affect your brain and moods.
The following tips can help you eat better:
- Do not go too long between meals. Eat something at least every three or four hours. Feeling hungry can make you tired and irritable.
- Cut down the refined carbohydrates and sugar. While you may crave a sugar hit, cakes and pastries, chips and other comfort foods, your mood and energy will soon crash and burn.
- Up your vitamin B intake. Low levels of B vitamins, such as B-12 and folic acid, can bring on depression. Either add supplements or eat more eggs, citrus fruits, chicken, beans and leafy greens.
- Omega-3 fatty acids boost your mood. Add seafoods such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, herrings, sardines and mackerel to your healthy diet.
- You can learn how to manage depression.
- Reach out and stay connected.
- Get physical.
- Listen to The Happiness Promise in the Blissiree app Boost Library.
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