When you’re dealing with depression, every aspect of life can seem like a challenge. You feel unmotivated to get out of bed in the morning. The idea of showering seems like a chore, and interacting with others seems impossible. If anything, you just want to lock yourself indoors and feel all the emotions as they come. Some days, dealing with the emotions seems to be pushing you further towards the edge.
You are not expected to “get over” depression by yourself. You should seek help – see a therapist, and the faster you do it, the better. But if you need some extra help during bad days, here are a few tips to help you cope when you’re feeling down.
Build a Reliable Support Network
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re all alone in the world when you’re dealing with depression. Loneliness can make things worse. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on and someone to help them shift perspective when they can’t. Besides, good and understanding company makes weathering the storms so much easier.
Therefore, if you’ve been feeling down for some time and you suspect you have depression, this is the time to rely on your support system. Connect with your family and friends in-person or via a phone call. If you can’t think of anyone to turn to, an online support group or a local support group in your area will suffice. Support groups are excellent because you get to share with people who are going through your exact situation.
Feeling stressed is inevitable, especially when you’ve gone through a terrible or traumatic ordeal. When you’re stressed, your body will start producing the hormone cortisol. This hormone is beneficial in the short-term because it allows you to cope with the stress-triggering situation.
However, if you allow the stress to overwhelm you, you can easily fall into depression. You don’t want it to get that far. To prevent stress from pushing you into a depressive state, find ways to minimize your stress. Identify your triggers and avoid them at all costs.
Give Yourself a Break
When life seems to be going in an unexpected direction, it’s inevitable to think you did something wrong. We all strive to be better and hope life will be a certain way. But life isn’t always perfect. Even when we have the best intentions and have done everything right, things can go wrong. You can’t afford to beat yourself up when things don’t go as planned.
Be kind to yourself. Avoid thinking you’re a failure, you could have known better, or you’re not good enough. Instead, shift your focus. Accept that things aren’t as you’d wish them to be and focus on what you can change.
Live in Day-Tight Compartments
How many times have you thought of a worst-case scenario that may happen months, days, or years from now? The answer is probably a lot. You’re not alone. It’s human to fear the unknown. But if it hasn’t happened yet, why keep worrying about it. The more you worry about something that’s yet to happen or may never happen, the more stressed you’ll be.
You can’t control the future. The only thing you can do is to make different choices today that prevent things from going wrong in the future. Therefore, because the only power you have is what you can do today, focus on that. It helps to list things you can do each day to improve your situation. When you begin taking one day at a time, you’ll notice your stress levels reducing with each passing day.
When you’re really feeling down, the wrong words from someone can make you dig yourself deeper into stress and depression. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid any negativity that may make you feel worse. Start paying attention to how you feel when you’re surrounded by certain people. Do you feel drained, more stressed, or hopeless after an interaction with them?
If the answer is yes, you need to keep away from such people. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and give you hope for better days.
When you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is to engage in any form of physical activity. Most people just want to lie in bed all day doing nothing. Doing so will only make your depression worse. When you’re feeling down, get up and move even if you don’t want to.
Research has shown that exercise is effective for improving one’s mood. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones such as endorphins that make you feel better. Not to mention, you get so many health benefits from exercising. And who wouldn’t mind the incredible physique that comes with it?
The good news is that you don’t even have to sign up for a gym class you don’t particularly enjoy. You can try simple things like at-home yoga and pilates, a walk around your neighborhood, or a simple exercise you enjoy.
Find Ways to Laugh
As humans, we tend to take life too seriously at times. One bad day can get you into a spiral of stress that leads to depression. However, stressful days don’t mean it’s a bad life. You’re just going through a rough patch. Do yourself a favor and enjoy yourself until you’re out of the woods.
Laughter is medicine, they say, and research proves this adage. Scientists have found that laughter can reduce cortisol levels by a significant amount. Therefore, you should find opportunities to laugh when you’re really feeling down.
Here are some ideas:
- Stock up on comedies and laugh your heart out.
- Befriend a funny person.
- Invest in funny magazines
- Watch funny videos on YouTube
- Attend a standup comedy show
- Hang out with a child
- Read a funny book
Do Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises seem overrated, but they do wonders for your mental and physical state when you’re stressed. When you inhale and exhale deeply, it signals your brain and body to relax. As a result, your stress response is reduced, and you feel calmer. However, to reap the benefits, you have to do controlled breathing exercises.
Begin by positioning yourself in a quiet space that’s free of distractions. Next, inhale deeply and hold your breath for at least 5 seconds. Afterward, exhale as you release every negative thought from your brain.
Get a Pet
Another effective strategy on how to stop feeling down is to spend time with a pet, for example, a dog as they are man’s best friends. Your furry friend will notice when you’re sad, and they’ll get near you to try and comfort you. The mere act of stroking a pet’s fur is also quite therapeutic. You’ll notice a feeling of calmness and relaxation when you do it.
Pets can also be an excellent motivator to get you moving. Since you’ll have to walk your dog to ensure they have what they need and watch over them, you’ll have less time to wallow in self-pity. Furthermore, animals can be quite funny, which can give you the boost of laughter you need to get out of a funk.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
When you’re feeling down, you probably have no motivation to do anything. What’s the point? Your life is falling apart, right? No. While it may seem like everything is going wrong and you have no control, you do. You have control of how you feel and how to improve your situation.
So, instead of sitting all day thinking of all the things going wrong in your life, try something new. Go ice skating, try karaoke, go on a hike, or try something you normally wouldn’t. Such experiences not only give you more adventures but also add more motivation and positivity to your day.
Life gets challenging at times, and when you’re facing life’s storms, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of a tunnel. But there always is. You can remind yourself of this by reading or watching testimonies of people who made it despite the odds life threw at them. Such stories will not only motivate you to get up and fight each day but will also give you hope.
Figuring out what to do when you’re feeling down can be a lot like pulling teeth. You will do everything in your might to feel better, but your body just wants to stay in that state. Nonetheless, you should strive to make yourself feel better. Try the tips in this article to see which of them work for you and combine them if you need to.
We’ve provided you with self-help tips, but it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional who will develop a treatment plan and help you learn coping skills.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more