If you found this article, then odds are you are not a mental health professional. If that’s true, then I have great news: you’re not responsible for healing your depression all on your own!
(Even if you are a mental health professional, you’re still not responsible for doing it all alone. First and foremost, you’re human.)
As humans, we need support from other humans in order to thrive. When feeling depressed, it’s even harder to identify and confidently reach out for support. So let’s start there.
Here are some small ways to find the energy to get the help you need when depressed.
See Depression as a Habit, Not an Illness
Instead of calling the whole day a waste because you went down a depressive spiral, try viewing it as a blip on the radar. Viewing it as a habit rather than a chronic illness can help reframe your thoughts so you can find more motivation, even just a little.
When you have a bad day with your depression, recognize it and accept it. Try not to automatically blame yourself or see the whole week as ruined because of one off day. It’s easier to think about correcting a habit than healing an illness because the next time you recognize a habit, you can be aware of it and take steps to counteract it.
Separate Yourself from Your Depression
Depression feeds us doubts, fears, and negative thoughts that aren’t accurate to who we actually are or what we actually think.
Try to catch yourself in the moment. The next time you have a negative thought, consider separating your internal dialogue into two speakers: you and your depression.
If you think to yourself, “There’s no point in getting out of bed. I’m going back to sleep.” Try responding to that thought directly. “That’s not me talking, that’s my depression talking. There’s plenty of reasons to get out of bed, like getting really good coffee, putting on my favorite sweater, or seeing someone I like talking to.”
Your reasons can be small, but they’re important.
Teaching yourself to replace negative thoughts with positive (or just more realistic) ones takes patience. Give yourself grace when the negative ones slip through. You won’t heal overnight, but replacing one negative thought with a positive one can be the difference between seeking treatment options or staying down in the dumps.
Stay in the Moment by Focusing on Little Details
To fight back against spiraling thoughts, make an effort to focus on little things throughout your day. Mindfulness can go a long way in keeping you present and not delving into a pool of negative thoughts and self talk.
If you’re doing something mindless, like driving, stop your thoughts from doing their own thing by focusing on the drive.
Appreciate the particular color of the leaves around you, try to memorize the order of businesses on your route to work, or wipe the dust off your radio. The more you interact with the world outside your body, the less time your head has to entertain itself with cyclical negative self-talk.
Celebrate Yourself as Often as You Can
Depression can leave you feeling intensely lonely and bad about yourself. As the person who’s been there with you the whole time, you have a pretty good idea of what you are and are not capable of.
Acknowledge it simply—it’s hard to brush your teeth in the morning. It’s not good or bad, it’s just hard.
On the days when you brush your teeth, take a moment to congratulate yourself—really congratulate yourself. Play a song you love and give yourself a pat on the back. Be proud of yourself—small accomplishments are still accomplishments.
Celebrating yourself often and in tiny ways can help you rebuild your confidence and recognize your level of control.
You may have heard the theory that doing something bizarre after locking your door will help you remember you locked it. Do the same for your successes. You’re more likely to remember them if you make the celebration something memorable, too.
Once you find something that works for you, take all that newfound energy and use it to contact our office to start counseling. Together, we can minimize the impact depression has on your life and get back to living the life you truly want.