I have been open in the past that I was diagnosed with depression several years ago. I struggle with anxiety as well—at a lesser level. I thought I’d just list a few things that have helped me with my battle. I can say that I am doing much better in part because of these practices. These things won’t necessarily make you “better,'” but they can make life more manageable. For me, they have brought me to place of freedom I once thought was impossible.
1. Talk about what troubles you to the right people.
I have certain friends who help me. They seem to know the right thing to say or do when I am feeling blue. I’ve also seen some counselors and therapists who were a great support to me. Inherit in this suggestion is to not talk to the wrong people if you want to get better. Some folks in my life have a way of bringing me down with them. It doesn’t mean that I am not friends with them, but I don’t seek their help when I am depressed.
2. Be physically healthy—to a point.
There’s a connection to our physical and emotional well being. I am no poster child for fitness. I try to exercise and eat well … most days. For me, a militant diet or exercise regime can actually do more harm than good. I can get down on myself for falling short of my rigid expectations which can lead to depression. But what I know is that if I don’t exercise for a week while consuming lots of simple sugars and fast food … I can crash in a bad way. Moderation here is the key to me.
3. Center spiritually.
I need a few minutes everyday to be in silence and reflect on my blessed life. I do this in the car a lot. I’ve also journaled from time to time. Especially if you ever feel lonely this is important. It’s a great paradox that intentional solitude can begin to cure loneliness. Give yourself 5 minutes of solitude every day and see if it works. You’ll find yourself wanting more and more.
4. Seek vocational integrity.
Most of us spend more time at work than we do anywhere else. Our work has a huge impact on us emotionally. Maybe you aren’t in an ideal work situation. Don’t quit with no plan. That will make you super depressed. But do make a plan to find a job that aligns better with who you are. It may be a 5 or 10 year plan, but working your plan every day will remind you that you aren’t trapped … you are headed somewhere better. If you do generally like your work, then intentionally focus on being grateful for what you do. Gratefulness is one of the biggest weapons against depression and anxiety.
5. Be open to medication.
I resisted medication for years. I thought it would change me in negative ways. Finally, at the urging of a therapist-friend, I tried it. It helped. Of course we can become dependent and overly medicated if we aren’t careful, but my experience is that more people resist it than are open to it. Sensing we need help, many of us can tend to self-medicate with alcohol and street drugs, leading us down a self-destructive pathway. Often physician-directed medication can be a temporary boost that gives us the clarity we need to make better choices.
These are things that have helped me. If you’ve had experience in this matter feel free to comment below on what has helped you so that we can all benefit from what works for you …
Photo (Flickr CC) by peasap