First 30 Days Blog

17 jul

It’s the Little Things

JenJopeDepression is really no different than a guest who’s overstayed their welcome. You just want the guest (depression, in this case) to go … far, far away. You long for the days when you weren’t consumed by feelings of sadness. In other words, depression is a big deal. The good news? It’s the little things that can make you feel better.

Doing anything when you feel depressed is a Sisyphean task, but think about this: Action precedes motivation. How many times have you made a deal with yourself to hit the gym – even if it’s only for 10 minutes — and once you’re there, you complete a solid 45-minute workout? You were unmotivated at first, but by taking action, your motivation eventually caught up. The same idea applies to coping with depression. You might not be motivated to lift a finger – literally – but a little bit of action can make you feel more hopeful.

Eat something healthy
If you’ve been neglecting yourself by eating poorly or not eating much, start small. Make one healthy meal a day. It doesn’t have to be a four-course masterpiece, but eat things that will make you physically feel better. A sleeve of Oreos isn’t going to do that.

Develop a sleep ritual
Sleeping too much or not enough can wreak havoc on your mental state. Even someone without depression feels the effects after a terrible night’s sleep. It might be tempting to take naps during the day to temporarily escape the sadness you feel, but avoid that habit. Create a routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends (sorry!). Give your body a cue near bedtime – read, listen to calming music or stretch.

Schedule positive events
This one may feel daunting because nothing feels positive in the throws of depression. Again, start small. Write down your day’s schedule from morning until night, including when you plan to eat your meals. Are there any positive events listed? A “positive event” can range from simply reading a magazine to dinner with friends (and this one kills two birds with one stone: Socializing and self-care/eating). The point is to include several things within your day that will bring you even a little bit of joy. Too much idle time can lead to anxiety and perpetuate negative thoughts, so keep busy. Another tip: Try to schedule events that will make you follow through, such as a dinner commitment with friends or pre-paying for a yoga class.

Take note of behaviors
Isolation. Drinking too much or using drugs. Excessive sleeping. Do any of these sound familiar to you? These are coping mechanisms, and not good ones. Be more cognizant of how you’re coping with depression and consider how those actions make you feel. Isolation can leave you feeling lonely and worthless. Using substances temporarily numbs the pain, only leaving you worse off than before. Sleeping too much to avoid your feelings is another temporary fix and when you wake up, nothing has changed making you feel defeated.

Understand that healing from depression is a process. It’s OK if you don’t fulfill every task every day. Don’t beat yourself up. Make the efforts where you can and notice when you feel better to keep you moving forward.

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

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Posted by Jen Jope on July 17th, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

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