Why ‘Just Coping’ with Depression is Okay and How to Do It
By Nick Rubright
Depression can be a bottomless pit. Things that gave you joy now sap your energy. A friend’s jokes aren’t funny anymore. A lover’s eyes not as green. Everything becomes an effort.
How did you possibly feel happy before when everything is so sad? Have you ever even felt happy?
If you are not in touch with your thoughts and emotions, or you have perhaps not experienced depression before, it can very easily creep up on you.
Sometimes, it can be so manipulative that you will only realize you have been depressed when you come out of an episode. With more serious depression, however, you will need to have exercises and strategies ready to prevent or reduce these symptoms.
Perhaps, most importantly, we must understand that depression is an illness. Much like the flu, anyone can get it, and it affects millions of people worldwide.
You are not alone, and you are not expected to overcome this illness overnight. Here is one thing to think about – if a loved one were to get sick with the flu, you would never expect them to “just get better”.
Depression can affect individuals differently. Some people can have a singular episode for a few weeks, where others experience bouts of depressions for months, or years. As experiences with depression can vary, it is important to remember that just coping with your depression is okay. Doing so takes courage and willpower.
This also highlights the need for depression to be treated on a case-by-case basis. Different ways of coping with this illness will be better suited to some than others.
Below are a few tactics that you can use when you are experiencing depression. Some of these tactics I have used personally over the past few years since being diagnosed with a mood disorder.
You might be thinking, how can thinking about how depressed I am help my depression? Won’t it make it worse?
Being mindful of your thoughts isn’t about thinking why you are depressed more. It is about stopping the constant stream of negative thoughts that are making you depressed.
Depression is a con-man. He will try to trick you into negative train of thoughts over and over again until it becomes a habit. Mindfulness breaks this habit and puts you back in control. It is about giving you a mental breather in which you can gather yourself, and restart from a more realistic position.
You can read more about how practicing mindfulness through meditation and breathing exercises has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms here.
Improve Your Sleep Patterns
Studies show that 65 to 90% of adults who experience depression, have a co-morbid sleeping disorder. In fact, sleep is as important to our health as eating and staying hydrated.
Try setting a routine and sticking to it. Go to bed at a reasonable time and wake with the sun. Getting straight into a hot or cold shower can be an excellent way to stave off the temptation to press snooze on your phone.
Taking melatonin is an excellent, non-invasive supplement that will help reset your sleep cycle. Try to reduce blue-light exposure from mobile phones and TV’s for the 2 hours prior to when you plan on going to sleep.
Don’t punish yourself if you can’t get to sleep or you can’t get out from under the duvet in the morning. Old habits that have been ingrained in your lifestyle will take time to eradicate. Be patient but determined.
Focus on Your Physical Health
Practicing mindfulness, although extremely beneficial, can be difficult. If you can’t get control of your mind, take control of your body. A great spiritual teacher once said, “Tend to the parts of the garden you can touch.”
Your body is your garden. It is where your mind begins and ends. Be loving to your garden.
Making changes to your diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine will work wonders. Even if it is as small as eating pasta over a greasy burger, or going for a walk around the block, you are striving for a better you.
Taking morning supplements such as CBD flower and fish oils immediately after getting out of bed will get you off to a great start. You are improving your sleep patterns and your diet before the day has even begun. Start celebrating the little things and building healthy habits where unhealthy ones use to exist.
Remember to start small and work your way up. If your depression has stopped you from exercising for years and has led you to eat fast food daily, don’t plan on running a marathon and never eating a burger again.
Set yourself realistic goals and strive towards them.
Walk before you run.
Reward yourself after a great week of dieting with a pizza. It’ll help keep cravings at bay and prevent total relapses.
Another thing you can do is to join a sporting team. I often found having a football team that I was a part of held me accountable. My friends would genuinely ask me why I didn’t come to training and often let me know it would have been great having me on the field on matchday.
This increased my motivation and was something I was most thankful for during really dark weeks of depression. If I could just look past the con-man telling me it would be better to stay in bed than get down to training, I knew I was on the right track.
Even when I was depressed after training, I always felt better after physically exerting myself and standing up to those negative thoughts.
Celebrate the Little Wins
Lastly, celebrate the little wins and don’t punish yourself when you experience setbacks. You will experience setbacks.
You are deserving of love.
This is a very interesting exercise that works for me when I am depressed. Next time you have intrusive thoughts ricocheting around your head, write them down. Take this list of negative self-talk and picture a loved one. Now read them out as if you were telling them they were the target of these thoughts. You would never ever do such a thing to another human being, so why tolerate it personally?
Often writing these thoughts down can help you realize how totally unfounded they are. They aren’t your own, they are the con-mans. They are depressions.
Now, burn that piece of paper and celebrate the little wins you have every day.
Depression can be one of the hardest things we can deal with during life. Remember, everyone deals with depression differently. Work towards finding habits and exercises that work best for you.
I personally find exercising and meditation most useful in my battle with mental illness. What will you discover?
Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to discuss with a trained professional the ways in which you can cope with this mental illness. You are not alone.