Friday, 10 August 2018

My Tips For Fighting Depression



It's no secret that I've had my battles with low moods and depression and it's still something I find myself having to fight today. After a long period of tapering off the antidepressant I was taking (Venlafaxine), I have recently gone meds free for the first time in three years. It feels great to finally have that drug out of my system but, as I had expected, there has been an adjustment period where I have felt some side effects and my mood has dropped again. 

Depression is a really horrible illness which I honestly wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. It just seems to suck the life the energy out of you and it makes you doubt every aspect of your life. I've had moments over the past week or so where I've felt like giving up on everything I've worked so hard to achieve. You suddenly feel like everything and everyone is against you and your self esteem just hits rock bottom. It can feel like a momentous challenge to even complete the simplest of tasks and suddenly the things that you used to enjoy bring you zero happiness at all. 

I've really had to dig deep lately to pull myself up again and keep going and in doing so I've really realised and appreciated the things that do and don't help when fighting this battle. I haven't felt like blogging or vlogging at all but I felt it important to share these tips with all of you because if it helps even just one of you then it's 100% worthwhile. 

Do The Things That Used To Make You Happy


This is a real hard one because depression has you feeling like you don't want to do anything and you don't see the point or benefit in doing anything. You feel like nothing is going to bring you happiness so what's the point? Well, let me tell you, it may not bring back the happiness you're longing for, or completely change how you're feeling, but just for that moment in time you will be doing something positive which isn't letting the depression win. Every positive step you take to live your life and experience things is a win. Whatever you do will lift your mood, even if it's just a tiny bit. Ultimately you will feel better for doing something than nothing at all. 

Take It One Day At A Time


I think for me I always feel worse when I think ahead too much and I always find it easier to just focus on one day at a time and the day that I am in right now. I have found that by setting myself some small achievable goals the night before helps to give the next day some purpose and something for me to aim towards when I wake up. Thinking ahead too much and wondering how you will get through things will just end up making you feel like giving up before you've even started. 

Divert Your Thoughts From Spiralling


This is a big one for me because I find that as soon as I start to think negatively it just spirals out of control and before long I am catastrophic thinking about everything. If you feel yourself having negative thoughts then try to divert your attention onto something else. Sometimes I will just say no, stand up and walk away to do something else and it's almost as if I am walking away from those thoughts. If I'm unable to do that then I decide to take six deep breaths and with each breath in I think of something positive or pay gratitude to the good things in my life. 

Walk


It's seriously one of my biggest bug bears when people offer up exercise as a solution to depression because I know how hard it can be for some people to muster up the strength to do even the simplest of tasks, let alone any vigorous exercise. However, I cannot deny how much better I always feel for a long walk. I can be feeling completely low and lacking in energy and a walk has often put me in a  much better mindset. I've been putting this to the test lately and really paying attention to how I'm feeling and one day I was quite amazed by how much better I felt for cracking out a 10,000 step walk. I honestly felt like a different person after and I really felt like I had achieved something that day. You won't always feel like doing it but sometimes you've got to force yourself and think about how much better you'll feel for it afterwards. I can honestly say that I have never regretted a walk.

Start The Day Right


As a freelancer I'm lucky enough to have some flexibility over when I work and how I want to plan out the hours of my working day. With this flexibility however comes a lot of leeway which has at times meant getting up a lot later than I should be and not feeling as though I need to rush for anything. Mornings have been a really challenging part of my day lately and a time when I have felt my worst so I've come to realise how important it is to get my day off to the right start. How my morning pans out can really impact on the rest of my day so I've been making a conscious effort to get up earlier and before I do anything else I just throw on some old clothes and head straight outside for a walk with my dogs. This has really put a stop to any ruminating and it's helped me to feel much more motivated for the rest of the day. 

Avoid Junk Food 


I can be pretty bad at times when it comes to junk or convenience foods. I find that if I don't do a decent food shop for the week ahead then things can pretty quickly spiral out of control and I'll just be eating whatever is quickest and easiest, which isn't always what's best for me. At the end of the day, and in order to feel our best, we need to make sure that we're consuming the right things and food that will give us energy and raise our mood. Sadly this means avoiding high sugary drinks and treats and instead focusing on a more healthy and wholesome diet. I definitely notice how much worse I feel when I am eating junk so I'm really trying to limit this at the moment and instead I'm trying to fuel myself with lots of green salad and vegetables whilst avoiding anything processed. 

Don't Avoid People


Avoiding people when I feel depressed is all I want to do but it certainly does nothing to help the situation. As soon as I feel consumed with depression I just want to cancel every plan in my diary and the thought of having to see others and make the effort to be sociable just feels like too high a mountain to climb. I personally find that it's best to be honest with people and say that I'm not having the best weeks and I may not be completely myself before I actually see them. I think for me this  helps to alleviate a lot of the pressure and also makes others aware of how i've been feeling. I think its very much like exercise - it feels like a huge hurdle but once you've done it the likelihood is that you will feel better for it. 

Spend Less Time Online 


I find it really difficult to switch off from being online, especially when so much of what I do is online and I do have to have an active presence on social media. Since my mood dropped again I really realised how mentally tiring I can find it being glued to my phone so much and also how much it limits my productivity levels. Lately I've been making a conscious effort to only pick up my phone in the evening and once my working day is over. Looking at it first thing in the morning is now a big no no for me and I find that if I don't do this then I don't spend the rest of my day scrolling either. At first I felt like I was missing out on stuff but now I realise that whatever is there can wait until the evening and I don't need to be on it all day. I also think that if you are feeling depressed or low then looking at social media can just magnify how you are feeling and leave you feeling worse. Ultimately we're just looking at everyone else's best versions of themselves which isn't a realistic representation of real life and it will just wind up with you feeling worse about yourself. The best thing you can do for yourself and your own wellbeing is to turn off all the noise.

Talk


I find that talking about how I'm feeling does help and it stops me from bottling it all up inside. If I'm feeling low I will often talk through with my husband exactly what's getting me down and how I'm feeling and even just talking it out with him helps to alleviate things. I will also often say on social media exactly how I'm feeling too because I think it's important to share the bad times, as well as the good, in a bid to keep things more real. Whenever I do talk openly about it I am always amazed by the amount of people who can relate or may be feeling the same. It's so much more common than anyone of us think! I have also in the past used a therapist when I have felt like I've needed an additional impartial ear which has also been helpful.   

If you're feeling low or depressed then I hope some of these tips will help you to feel better in your own lives. I'm no medical expert but I've lived it before and I'm still living it today and I think advice from someones own personal experience is often more helpful than anything else.   

Some mental health websites and resources you may find useful...




  
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