5 ways that social activities can help to ease depression

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I wanna hold your hand
When you are suffering with depression it’s all too easy to shut yourself away from the outside world. Shunning human company often seems like the safest option.

The symptoms of depression are many and varied, but range from continuous low mood and sadness to feeling hopeless and helpless, having no motivation or interest and not getting any enjoyment out of life. It’s therefore unsurprising that many people with depression struggle to socialise and find it easier to withdraw from the world. Indeed this is one of the telltale signs that a person may be suffering with a depressive episode.

In many ways social media doesn’t help, as a person may have many friends on Facebook and Twitter but very few that they actually see and socialise with.

For a depressed person, the idea of socialising may seem daunting and exhausting, which is why it is better to take small, easy steps. I once heard this being likened to the idea of the hedgehog who curls up and hibernates during the winter and then gradually unfurls itself from its spikes as spring arrives. I think it’s an apt description.

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Here are some suggestions which may help:

Start by reaching out to your family and close friends whom you trust. If you are feeling low, confide in a family member or close friend. You will instantly feel less isolated and alone. Perhaps make a pact to speak to this person on a weekly basis – even if it’s just a quick five-minute phone call. Regular social contact will help to lift your spirits.

If you have lost touch with certain friends it may seem daunting to contact them out of the blue, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. If you can’t face a phonecall, try sending a friendly text or email, asking how they are and what they’ve been up to. More than likely they will be delighted to hear from you. Once you’ve got over the initial hurdle, why not suggest meeting for a coffee?

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If you have social activities that you enjoy doing, really try to keep them up, or try to make a return to them. One of the symptoms of depression is to lose interest in things, so it may be the case that you don’t want to go to your regular workout class or evening class. Before going to your activity, look at yourself in the mirror, smile, and tell yourself that it’s going to go well. It might even help to visualise the activity going well in your mind, before you go there. I find that this often helps to boost my confidence and dispel any anxious feelings.

Consider seeing a counsellor or joining a depression support group. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others who are going through the same thing will help you to feel less isolated and you may find that you are able to offer each other support and advice.

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Try some volunteer work. This could be something as simple as helping out in a charity shop on a Saturday or helping to do conservation work for a local park. Not only will it help you to break out of your shell, but you’ll know that you are doing some good at the same time. People will be grateful for the extra help and it may turn into a regular activity.

I would love to hear from any Daily Mind readers who have other tips for how to reach out to others when you are feeling depressed. If something worked for you, do get in touch and share your experience.

About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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