Depression is not fun. It is seriously de-habilitating and I have been through the ‘dark ages’ during different seasons in my life. One period was during my pre and post-natal days, due to various factors mostly hormones. Desperate to find answers on how to cope with depression, I tried different methods because I was committed to seeing change in my life.
Now, I know the title of this article says ‘cope’ but I am going to change that word to overcome, because we in this life we get to choose whether to be a victim and hold a poverty mentality or to be an over-comer and move towards progress. I say this only because I have been through it. Not only that, I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was only 16 and since have been on anti-depression medication. That is until 2014. Only last year did I take a leap of faith and decide to come off. At first it wasn’t easy, with my brain chemistry going crazy (especially mixed in with all those pregnancy hormones). But I did it. I overcame. Today I am free. And you CAN be too.
Now, by no means am I advocating that you go off your medication. That is something you need to discuss with your doctor and/or mental health practictioner. Ceasing anti-depression medication needs to be done under the supervision of a professional, so please talk to someone before you take that step.
But what I’d like to present in this article are a few simple measures you can take to help elevate your mood and help you progress forward:
1. Mindfulness – I LOVE this. This is not just for those who are mentally unwell, this is for EVERYONE. We live in such a fast-paced life, that time to stop and reflect is virtually eradicated. Stop running from one thing to the next! STOP! Practice mindfulness techniques. Do it daily. Do it when you’re sad. When you feel lonely. When things seem hopeless, be mindful. There’s no limit to this technique and it works wonders!
2. Meditation – this is a little different to mindfulness. What you are doing is focusing on a single thought, image or notion. Perhaps you can take yourself back to a time and place where you were laughing and smiling. Relive that moment, over and over again. Feel how it feels. Smell how it smells. Or, you can find an affirmation and stop to mediate on it. You can even look at yourself in the mirror and say it to yourself!
3. Recreation – you may not feel like going out, being around people or doing even simple things that you usually would enjoy. Don’t let this be a reason for you to stop doing pleasant activities. Though your feelings are strong, don’t let them decide for you. Make a decision to push through those feelings and you will find your feelings will catch up with your decision. This is a very empowering technique, and when done repeatedly can significantly improve your mood.
4. Relaxation – of course, this one is just a must. Be kind to yourself! Give yourself permission everyday without fail to do something or have something as a reward for being you. Huh? Yeah, that’s right. You are a treasure, fearfully and wonderfully made. You deserve to put your feet up, enjoy a cup of coffee (in moderation), sit by the beach, listen to soothing music (baby lullabies are great!) or buy yourself a gift. Do whatever you can to make your environment as relaxing as possible.
What happens when you are using these techniques is you are actually changing your brain. Neuroplasticity is the new brain surgery. When you take time to do all of the above, you implement change into your physiology and your thinking. Remember, you CAN and WILL overcome – it takes courage and persistence, but you come out the other side a stronger person.