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Strategies for combating depression

No-one chooses to be depressed. Give anyone the choice between waking keen and motivated to embrace the challenges of the day or feeling despondent and they will choose the latter.

However, if I spot the early warning signs (see my previous post), there are strategies which can lift my mood. Some cost money but others are free. For example, there are computers free to use at the local library with librarians available for advice and free courses for beginners. Libraries are quiet, relaxing places where I can read a magazine or newspaper. They are rarely empty and being with people helps me feel better.

Here are more strategies which have worked for me.

  • I try to get out for a walk, however short, in the fresh air. In winter months I walk in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest and the sunlight is at its best to boost the endorphins.
  • On a health management course I learnt to write a mood diary and record daily activities. I try to write a page a day as this allows some reflection. Amazingly, when I think I have been depressed for weeks, my diary shows me it is perhaps only 10-14 days.
  • On this self-management course we also learnt to set achievable goals with tasks such as tidying up neglected areas in the house. I choose a few shelves or one file at a time. Little and often is my motto.
  • Even when money is short, I try to book a reasonably priced reflexology session for deep relaxation.
  • My reflexologist introduced me to ‘tapping’ techniques. Tapping therapy or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is explained on various websites along with videos. If you are unsure it would be worth paying for half an hour of therapy for a demonstration and help with setting intentions.
  • A To Do list with achievable tasks is another strategy. I keep them short and tick off completed tasks. In the evening, I look back and see what I have achieved.
  • It is easy to isolate myself as my mood dips so I phone or visit family members or close friends. I take care to choose positive, understanding people and keep the negativity at bay.
  • When I feel unable to mix socially, I try to speak to someone each day, perhaps a shop assistant or someone on the bus.
  • I try to smile at people I pass on the street. Research shows this has the effect of receiving a smile in return, which makes me feel good about myself.
  • I watch ‘happy’ television programmes and avoid the news which tends to increase my anxiety.
  • When book reading is difficult, I read an internet post on a subject of interest. Blogs and websites on improving mental health are helpful. I might post a small comment. Reading poetry also helps.
  • Writing down three positives each day has helped me in the past. These positives could include ‘I cooked a nice meal’, ‘I phoned a friend’ or ‘I watched TV for an hour’.
  • Instead of berating myself, I give myself permission to stay in bed in the morning for a time. My depression usually follows a period of stress or being overly busy so I allow myself to rest.
  • I have learnt to be kind to myself, accepting I have an illness and reminding myself that my brain has overworked and been over stimulated. Depression is often my brain’s way of ‘having a rest’. I keep occupied with simple activities such as sorting photographs, browsing magazines or watching television.
  • I put listening to music or playing the piano on my TO DO list.
  • Yoga is one of my ‘staying well’ strategies. Simple stretching helps me. When I could not afford a class, I borrowed books on yoga from the library. Websites helped too.
  • Finally, I have learnt that depression does pass. You will not always feel like this.

What are your strategies when you feel low mood approaching?

Image courtesy of Jared Erondu

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