10 Ways to Beat the Depression Spiral

depressedDepression can swallow you up before you realize it. Here are ten ways you can nip it in the bud or pry your soul from its grip.

1. Recognize patterns. Does depression rear its ugly head at certain times of the month or year? Do certain people or memory triggers bring it on? Knowing the things and times in your life that make you more prone to depression gives you the advantage. There’s no surprise, and you can fortify yourself.

2. Avoid depression triggers when possible. If you know that driving past the theater triggers painful memories and sends you spiraling into dark sadness, do not drive past it. Obviously, if its gloomy weather that trips you up, its a little hard to avoid those cloudy days, but you can turn on as many lights as possible to try to counter the darkness.

3. Take your vitamins. Your body actually needs nutrients to be happy. Your emotions are physical triggers that need vitamins D and B to keep you smiling. If you’re feeling continually sad and fatigued, it’s a good sign you may need some happy pills. A good multivitamin should give you what you need if your levels are normal. But you may need to visit your doctor and get some blood work done. He will be able to tell you if you need an extra vitamin D boost.

4. Fall in love with sunshine. Sunshine is the happiest medicine in the world. It’s bright and cheery and full of vitamin D. Spend at least 20 minutes in it every day that it’s not hiding from you. Hang up photos of sunshine streaming through the trees or playfully sparkling across a stream in your home or office for those cloudy days.

5. Get dressed. I mean like really dressed. Hide the sweatpants and baggy sweatshirts. Save them for camping. Put on your cute jeans, a nice (but practical) shirt, and some cute shoes. Put on some masacara and cute earrings. When you look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of your sleeves, pant legs, or shoes, you send electric pulses to your brain… “See me. I’m cute today. I feel good.”

6. Put your earbuds in. Music is pure medicine. Well, so long as it’s cheery music that strengthens your heart. “Lost my truck, lost my dog, lost my wife” music doesn’t count. Nor does break-up music. Listen to music that makes you feel happy and that inspires you to hold on to hope. For me, it’s contemporary Christian music, but it may be different for you.

7. Use your imagination. Our imaginations are powerful, powerful things. Think of the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of or experienced. Does it make you nearly tear up? That’s the magic. But we need to use it in reverse. Think happy thoughts. I’m not talking positive thinking here. I’m talking about not letting your mind wallow in the sad. Think of the things that make you happy. If you’re having a hard time thinking of any, make up happy stories. Watch happy movies in your own head. Read inspiring, happy books. Whatever you do, don’t let your brain wallow in the darkness. Do not watch depressing movies or read depressing news or stories. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world’s depression. Your own is enough.

8. Surround yourself with liberating words. Scripture or inspiring quotes trigger a psychological response. It sends the brain to the happy place and signals the emotions to follow. They inspire us to action and give us a resolve to reach beyond the blackness. Scribble them on post it notes and stick them everywhere. Scrawl them across the windows and mirrors with dry erase markers. Put them where you will see them frequently. Let them inspire you.

9. Talk. Find a friend or counselor that you can meet with on a regular basis. Let them hold your hand through this long, hard trek. Talk about the things that bother you. Talk about your resolve to move past the pain and sadness. Talk about your progress and your failures. Keep your appointments with them. Do not play hermit. This is not the time to wallow in loneliness.

10. Smile. Sounds simple and yet incredibly impossible. When you’re fighting depression, the last thing you want to do is smile. But sometimes our actions need to lead our emotions. Smile at strangers, at your co-workers, your family, your friends… at every human in the world. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Soon the forced smile on your lips will find its way into your eyes as smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin.

 

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