Depression drains energy like the bathtub drain sucks water when the plug is removed. There may be days when the energy drain isn’t too bad, but there are days when you just can’t get out of bed.
Many people will say that it is all right to ask for help and that every person who thinks – even in the slightest – he is depressed should go see a doctor. I agree in that there should be no shame in seeking help (although agreeing and reality are sometimes not aligned). However, there is also the idea that depression can be handled and beaten alone.
Is it indeed possible to beat depression by yourself?
In some cases, I believe it is. It is important to note that the phrase “by yourself” doesn’t mean you deal with depression alone. I use it in the sense that you can engage in certain activities that will help you get out of the rut you’re in without having to see a doctor or take meds. These activities may not apply to everyone, but at least give them a try and see if they work for you as they have for others.
How to beat depression by yourself: try these things
1. Be mindful.
When we’re depressed, we tend to get caught up in a negative thought cycle that leads to nothing but a downward spiral. Either that or escape into a world we create in our minds. Instead of taking this path – which is actually easy – practice mindfulness.
Don’t let your mind wallow in sadness and think of all the bad things. Don’t escape into your world where there is nothing wrong. Instead, accept your current state of mind and pay attention to how you feel, what is going on around you. If you’re doing the dishes, feel the warmth of the water and the squeaky cleanness of the plates. Get a book and sit on the sofa. Feel how soft the sofa is and appreciate the smell of the paper.
These things may seem trivial, but they keep you grounded and, more importantly, hones the skill to control your mind. The more you do this, you lessen the tendency of wallowing in your depression.
2. Help others.
I’ve found this to be true more than once. Feeling really low? There is always someone who is in a worse situation than you are – and they need you. Giving others a helping hand will lift you up like nothing else.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Volunteer to teach free classes at the local school. Sponsor a child so he can go to school. There are so many things you can do to help – and you don’t even have to go far. For sure, there is someone in the neighborhood who is just waiting.
If there’s one thing you can do to ease depressive feelings, help others. You’ll find yourself feeling so much better.
3. Go to the light side.
The power of the dark may be tempting, but you don’t have to cave in. Instead of staying inside and wallowing in your awful feelings of self-loathing, pity, and desperation, get off your butt and go outside. You don’t have to jump around and dance like nobody’s watching. Just sit on the porch, the grass, or a chair – it doesn’t matter. Sunlight is your ally in beating depression.
4. Express your feelings one way or another.
Write. Paint. Use adult coloring books.
You’re not a writer, you say. Who cares? No one has to read what you write.
You can’t paint? Again, who cares? You’re doing it for yourself, not for glory and fame. Besides, you never know. Your work might become celebrated art when you’re long gone.
Adult coloring books are all the rage, and even if you think they’re just hype, why not try it just once. It can be therapeutic.
The bottom line is that the mere act of expressing yourself is cathartic and that will chase away depression.
5. Regularize your sleeping pattern.
Depression involves chemical imbalances in our brains, that is why one of the first things psychologists/psychiatrists ask is “How is your sleep?”. The chances are that you have a hard time falling asleep and/or you keep waking up in the middle of the night. This results in low energy during the day, making you feel cranky, listless, and even more depressed.
The solution? Fix your sleeping pattern.
Choose a fixed time to go to bed, and set your alarm at the same time every day.
Exercise always makes the list of how to beat depression self-help articles – and for good reason. There is solid scientific proof that exercise releases chemicals that make you feel good. While it doesn’t last forever, that period after exercising will get you through the day. And since exercising only gives limited “happy power”, you need to get moving regularly. Say, walk for 30 minutes every day for a start. (See what I did there?)
7. Remind yourself over and over again that depression does not have to be permanent.
Last, but perhaps the most important thing, is to remember that depression does not have to be permanent. Yes, it may seem that you’ll never see the light of day again. That you will never feel good again. This is normal while you’re in the throes of depression.
But if there’s one thing you need to keep telling yourself, it is this: you can fight depression. Whether you seek the help of others, or you do some – or all – of the things above, you can give depression the finger.
Last words (for now)
This is the point where I have to say that it is easy to write all these tips on how to beat depression by yourself and how reality is a different story, but here’s one thing to bear in mind: different people have different needs. We are in different situations and deal with them in our own ways. So, this article is meant to give you ideas to help yourself, but it is by no means an endorsement to not seek professional help if that’s what you need.
Still, I believe that no matter how many doctors you see, how often you see them, at the end of the day, it is you who will make the decisions and take the steps to beat depression. The path may be long and crooked, but you’ll get there.