Learning how to overcome depression can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to use natural remedies or dealing with it alone.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teenager, obsessing over everything from my weight, success in school, and later competency as a wife and mother. The stresses of the day overwhelm me, and I feel like I can’t handle one more thing.
Even so, if I really look back on my depression over the years, it’s easy to see a pattern.
Depression has different levels. There are times (like when you can’t get out of bed or have a desire to harm yourself or others) when the best thing to do is to seek medical attention and medication.
However, I’ve also found that there are things you can do to help beat depression or even stop depression.
The second you stop taking care of yourself and aren’t keeping tabs on your depression, it can easily spiral out of control.
How to Deal With Depression
Chances are, the fight you just had with your spouse over taking out the garbage wasn’t the real reason why you burst into tears and locked yourself in the bathroom.
Think about what’s really causing your depression.
Sometimes, the smallest things can set you off. Take some time to think about what’s really going on.
Are you tired from staying up too late? Have you been putting in too many hours in the office? Are you feeling the “Facebook Blues” because all your friends seem to have it all together and you haven’t even changed your underwear today?
After you’ve identified the problem, try to think of some realistic solutions.
If there’s no simple solution in sight (or you’re so frazzled that you couldn’t think of one if you tried), try one of the following ideas to fight your depression.
1. Take some time for self-care
Self-care comes in many different forms, but the important thing is that you make yourself a priority.
Listen to your body. What do you need to be healthy, both mentally and physically? Whether that’s just taking a break, like spending fifteen minutes to paint your nails, do something for yourself. Take an extra long shower, read a book, or even spend some time fixing your makeup and putting on some nice clothes.
An easy way to cope with depression is to work on both your mental and physical health. But to take care of yourself mentally, you have to spend some time working on self-care. Make an attempt to feel better about yourself from the outside in and give yourself a chance to process your emotions.
Related reading on Organized Motherhood:
- How to Make Time for Self-Care
- Feed Your Soul: How to Make Self-Care a Priority
- Unique to Reward Yourself Even When Your Budget is Tight
2. Drink some water
While drinking water may not boost your mood, it will make you feel better overall. Water flushes out toxins from your body, so imagine it flushing out your negative thoughts. It also helps your body to function better.
Water is healthy and every healthy thing that you do for yourself adds up!
I recently took the 15 Days to a Healthier You course. The course focuses on internal and external health by helping you de-stress while adding healthy habits. In the course, an entire day was devoted to different ways to drink more water and use water as a part of your healthy-living journey.
3. Stay fulfilled
Spend some time to immerse yourself in a new hobby or a good book. Sometimes, reflecting on something other than your own problems can do you worlds of good.
Read a book (fiction is great to take your mind off your problems, but inspirational books are also great motivators), listen to a podcast, or take an online course (I recently signed up for a cookie decorating course through Craftsy because nothing screams happiness more than pretty cookies).
If there’s something that you would love to learn, sign up for a course or check out a book at the library.
Lifelong learning, even if it’s something like a cookie decorating course, will help you stay fulfilled and help you feel empowered and able to beat depression.
This isn’t just for all you baking and cooking lovers who need to burn off calories. Exercise, even in small, ten-minute increments, has been proven to boost your mood.
Especially if you have a chance to get outside and bask in the sunshine, exercise is the perfect opportunity to clear your head while doing something good for yourself.
I love going to classes at my local YMCA, but if you’re struggling to get out of the house, try doing a workout video. I just discovered Beachbody’s CIZE workout, which is a fun way to exercise (and the videos are short enough to do first thing in the morning or during the kids’ naptime).
Beachbody is also offering my readers free access to Beachbody On Demand for the next 30 days. Try out as many new, fun workouts as you want to pull yourself out of your slump.
5. Get the right amount of sleep
One of the first red flags of depression is a change in sleep patterns. Whether you’re sleeping too much or too little, the right amount of sleep can immediately put you in a better mood.
Based on Hal Elrod’s teachings in The Miracle Morning, I’ve learned that it’s possible have an intentionally good morning, which in turn puts you in a better mood throughout the entire day.
Note: Hal Elrod suggests that you’re probably getting too much sleep, and that it’s possible to function on as little as four hours. While I agree that it’s possible to function on that little sleep, I don’t recommend it, especially over an extended period of time.
Functioning and living your life to its fullest (depression free) are two totally different things. While I agreed with most of the other principles in the book, I would highly recommend that you go to bed earlier to make sure that you’re starting your day on the right foot.
Related reading on Organized Motherhood: 15 Tips to Get More Sleep
Speaking of going to bed earlier, Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings courses
helped me take control over my schedule on so many different levels. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule and struggling to get out the door in the morning, I highly recommend both classes.
6. Do something you love
I love to bake (hence my excitement over the Craftsy cookie decorating course). There’s something about mixing the ingredients in just the right ratios and kneading dough that melts my stresses away, but maybe you enjoy gardening, knitting, or another activity.
Find what you love and do more of it.
That may be easier said than done, but if you’re feeling depressed, you need to focus on making yourself and your wellbeing a priority.
If you can, involve the whole family in your activity (I often have the kids “help” bake cookies and muffins). You could also get the kids set up coloring or doing a craft while you spend some time on your own activity.
7. Have a healthy snack
Many foods from bananas to chocolate (in moderation) to protein to blueberries have been proven to boost your mood.
That said, there are some foods, like sugar, which cause a spike in your blood sugar. Try to avoid foods high in sugar and trans-fats, which have been proven to have a negative impact on your mood (and overall health).
8. Drink something hot
There’s something to be said about curling up with a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa. For some reason, that seems to melt all my problems away.
Maybe it’s simply taking a few minutes to sip a drink, savoring the taste, but researchers also credit the caffeine in the tea and coffee and the polyphenol in the cocoa as significant mood boosters. They change the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, boosting your mood.
9. Talk to someone
If you’re just feeling blue, talk to someone close to you.
Even if you don’t get into the nitty-gritty details of your funk, spending time in the company of others (even if it’s just a phone call) can help so much. You may not feel like talking to others, especially if you’re feeling like Eeyore, but trust me, you want to make time for friends if you’re feeling depressed.
If you’ve been feeling depressed for a significant period of time (most doctors define a “significant period of time” as more than two weeks), seek help. Talking to your family doctor is a good starting place, but you will most likely want to talk to a therapist who can get you started on a healing path.
Even though there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, don’t be afraid to seek help. As a teenager, I felt shame and embarrassment when I had to tell my choir teacher why I would be missing play practices for the next few weeks while I went to a counselor. Later, as a newlywed, my husband told me that, since I was now happily married, I wouldn’t need to see a doctor (as much as I love my husband, it’s possible to still have chemical imbalances in my brain).
Not everyone understands depression and what you’re going through, but please don’t let that stop you from getting the help you need, whether it’s in the form of professional help or simply trying one of the techniques listed above.
The bottom line is that this is your health! While there are preventative measures that you can take to overcome or beat depression, sometimes medical attention is necessary. Although it took me years to realize this, there’s no shame in asking for help.
Monday 17th of October 2016
This. Is. Brilliant. I'm pleased I found this on Pintrest.
Hubby and I have both battled depression for some time now. Earlier this year I left my long-term job because of it, but after some pysch counseling I now have a toehold into the career path I've wanted for a long time; it's not going as well as I'd like, but early days.... Here in New Zealand, we're fortunate to have some wonderful NGOs that we can turn to when we need them.
I find that lack of sleep, for me, is a big trigger; and over the last week or so I haven't had a lot of it, and the spin-off is lack of motivation, depression, etc etc etc... I manage to keep my Ogre syndrome under control, though :-) Your post is a reminder for me of some of the more simple ways that are under MY control to get back on track. Thanks, Alison :-)
Monday 3rd of October 2016
Saturday 18th of June 2016
What is "Over the Moon? Thanks for a wonderful post...knowing others live with depression helps lessen the onus and helps so much to be understood...
Sunday 19th of June 2016
Thanks, Jan. I agree. It really helps to find someone to hold your hand through depression. Even a sympathetic ear can make all the difference in the world. Hugs!
Over the Moon is another blog where I shared this post. ;)
Thursday 19th of May 2016
Great tips Alison, these are definitely things that I do to try and pick myself up when I'm feeling low. Thanks so much for linking to #PoCoLo. x
Wednesday 25th of May 2016
Wednesday 11th of May 2016
Congratulations! Your post was in my top two picks for this week's Over the Moon Link Up. Thanks for linking up with us.
Wednesday 11th of May 2016
Thank you so much, Sue!