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10 Surefire Ways to Diminish Depression
Why I can't say "cure"
I've had clinical depression for most of my life. I know what lifestyle changes work for me and which ones don't. I can't say any of these things will cure your depression because it's never as simple as all that. Maybe your depression will go away or maybe you need to try different things more tailored to you. This is just a general list of good things to try that won't hurt anyone, and may go a long way in lessening your depression. So without further ado, let's jump right in.
1. Cut Out the Poisonous People
This one is so hugely important, I can't even stress how essential it is. Even if you do everything else on this list and more, a toxic environment is going to melt your progress faster than battery acid. The poisonous person in your life can be a parent, a significant other, a sibling, a friend, a boss, a coworker and even a grandparent. A toxic person can come in many forms. Some are flat-out batterers. Some are verbal or emotional abusers. Some are gaslighters or just don't respect your decisions or personal space and privacy. Whatever they do, a toxic person just doesn't accept you for you, or let you live in peace. They don't support you and they might not even love you. So get rid of them, no matter what it takes, because you can't change them. And you'll become way too depressed trying to change yourself. It's best just to cut the line at that point.
2. Let Yourself Feel
If you're trying to clean house on your life, you'll probably have a lot of really weird and confusing feelings. One day you'll be happy and celebratory. The next day you might have guilt or a depressive slump or a bout of loneliness. There's about a billion different feelings involved in making changes in your life, and you are allowed to feel them all. It's healthy not to suppress how you feel. So work through each of your feelings. Use some introspection. Ask yourself why you might be feeling that way. That being said, don't let yourself wallow. Meaning don't stop progress in your life because you're too busy feeling things. Just explore, then move on.
3. Write It Down
Keeping some sort of journal of what's going on in your life is super useful for a couple of different reasons. If you record events in your life and your feelings, you can start to see patterns of what or who is bothering you. This way, it is easier to pinpoint and avoid triggers in the future. Also, keeping a dream diary may help you identify what's bothering you or what your mind is dwelling on. A journal is also a good way to get your feelings out into a real space where you can examine them and not suppress them so much.
4. Build and Nurture Your Support System
This one is almost as important as eliminating toxic people from your life. There are probably going to be times when you feel very depressed and very lonely. You might even have some times where you think your loved ones don't really want you around. I'm here to tell you, nurture your loving relationships like a plant. Guaranteed there are people in your life you love and accept you for who you are. Once again, these can be a parent, sibling, lover, coworker, teacher, or friend. And they definitely want you around. There are suspicions in your head that are unfounded, if they didn't like you, trust me, they would find a way to let you know. Your friends and family can help you through these hard times and celebrate with you during the good times. Don't let these relationships fall away, they are here to enrich your life and help give it meaning!
5. Do Things You Really Like
Take some time to do things that you really enjoy. There doesn't have to be any kind of end game, you don't have to do these things for money or for other people. These hobbies are just for you. They make you smile. Whether it's drawing, remote control trophy trucks, video games, or taking a long bubble bath. Doing things just for you will refresh your soul and lift your spirits.
6. Bob Ross Your Life
If you remember Bob Ross, you'll remember that he was crazy optimistic and happy about everything. He would narrate his painting with quippy stuff like, "happy little clouds playing in the sky all day long". When I was feeling negative I came up with this theory, to Bob Ross my life. Instead of watching depressing movies or listening to sad music, I'd purposefully play something more upbeat to change my mood. I Bob Rossed it. I set out to eliminate any negativity or depressing influences, including media, facebook, and in my workplace. Ultimately, Bob Rossing my life had a "fake it 'til you make it" effect. Because I filled my life with more positive things, I grew more positive day by day.
7. Try New Things
In addition to doing things you know you love, trying new things is very important for your soul and your mentality. You end up discovering new hobbies that you love. The good anxiety and adrenaline that comes from exploring new territory really gets your mind off depression, if only for a little while. Also, when you try new things, you inevitably end up meeting new people, which can enrich your life greatly. New people bring new experiences, advice, outlooks on life, and new friends to share with. It doesn't have to be anything wild either, like skydiving. It can be something as simple as trying new coffee shops or joining a book club.
It's no secret that exercise is good for us, even if we don't have depression. We also know it's hard to do, and hard to stick with. Exercise has added benefits for those with depression because it naturally raises serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain, which make you happier. Not to mention exercise makes you look good and function much healthier, which doesn't hurt in battling depression. Even if it's a short brisk walk, get out and get moving every day. You'll feel a difference, I swear. One thing I find is that it's easier to exercise outside in the fresh air rather than going to a stuffy gym with all the fitness heads. Being outside brings out something elemental in all of us, some human part where we connect with nature. It can be so much easier to be active outside.
9. Seek Counseling
We all know there are a lot of negative connotations attached to mental health issues. Plenty of people with depression and anxiety just live in denial and misery because of what other people might think. This is not a good enough reason to avoid seeking real help. Sometimes friends and family don't really know how to help us, so we need to talk to someone who knows more about what we're going through. It can really help just to explain your situation to someone who is outside of your life and can give unbiased advice. Some people are put off by the sterility of counseling, which is why it's important to find one that you get along with. It's the same as finding a good hairdresser. You have to find someone that you get along with, who can be your friend and who gets you. Otherwise the whole thing is going to be too uncomfortable. Your therapist should be a friend with credentials.
10. Consider Medication
I know, I know. Taking medication is the last thing a lot of us want to do. It's like admitting defeat or admitting that you're hopelessly damaged or weak. Would you say the same thing to a diabetic about their insulin? Of course not, that would be insensitive and bad advice. Many people have legitimate chemical imbalances in the brain, which cause their pervasive depression. If you've tried everything on this list and more, but nothing seems to be working, maybe some medication is right for you. There are a bunch of different anti-depressants out there which have different results for different people. Sometimes medication can just help you through a really rough spot. Taking some for the time being doesn't mean you'll have to take it forever, like insulin. Or maybe you will have to take a low dose for a very long time. Anybody who judges you for that is one of those toxic people I talked about earlier. Either they need to be educated on the subject or their interactions with you must be limited or cut off. Also, try not to self medicate with drugs or alcohol, which are dangerous to your health. And alcohol is a known depressant, which will make your depression worse in the long run, even if you don't care at the moment. All I'm saying is, don't say "no" to something that can really help just because other people have problems accepting biology.
-Eliminate those toxic people
-Allow yourself to feel
-Keep a Journal
-Do stuff that makes you happy
-Bob Ross it
-Try new things
-Find a friend with credentials
-Don't turn down medicine
To Sum Up
If you feel like some of the things on this list aren't for you, you don't have to do them. There are some of these that are true no matter what, like bad people will continue to make you feel bad. But if there is something you want to do that I haven't thought of, go ahead and try it as long as it's safe and healthy. Do what you must to fight depression, because it's not fair for you to keep suffering. If you'd like to leave your story or questions in the comments, feel free, sharing new tips can benefit all of us.