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10 Ways to Overcome Depression and Sadness

Updated on August 28, 2012
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Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

Depression and Grief
Depression and Grief | Source

Taking Back Your Life

"You cannot assess the damage until the storm has passed." -Author

When life-changing events happen, it can be difficult to overcome the aftermath; the sadness and depression that remain. It can be debilitating to experience such events and depression can last for weeks, months or even years.

Where do you start when you want to get back on your feet? Here are ten ways to begin standing strong and taking control of your life after the storm passes.

Take Care of You

Eat healthy foods. Taking care of yourself is critical to being better. It's an easy way for you to jump start happiness. Junk food makes the body feel lethargic and caffeine makes for highs and lows. If you don't want to give up all of your comfort foods then start small and slowly build. Many grocery stores offer free dietitians or nutritionist consultants who will help you learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Getting enough sleep is also important so that you are well rested for your day. Exhaustion is fuel for the depression fire. Oppositely, if you spend the entire day in bed it can be a sign of depression.

Journal or Diary
Journal or Diary | Source

Write About Your Feelings

When emotions build up over time they can cause depression. Taking the time to write down how you feel is a great way to release your emotions. There are many ways to write about how you feel:

  1. Keep a journal.
  2. Write a letter.
  3. Write "feeling" words.
  4. Make a list about the good and bad things that happen during your day.
  5. Write down what makes you angry, crumple the paper and throw it away - vowing to be done with it once it is gone.
  6. Make a collage that describes what you feel.

Regardless of how you decide to turn loose of the words in your head, it's important to get them out.

Girl Crying
Girl Crying | Source

Be Social and Active

This might sound like a daunting task but it can be simple and painless. Physical activity can be very cathartic when you are feeling sad. Begin with something small:

  1. Walk to the mailbox and enjoy the sun, the breeze or the misty rain.
  2. Walk down the block and back.
  3. Go to the park and sit on a bench watching kiddos play.
  4. Drive to a lake and walk where you can see the water. Water often has a very calming effect on the mind.
  5. Fly a kite.
  6. Ride your bicycle.
  7. Sit on the patio or deck. (Write in your journal)

Being social is important when it comes to depression and sadness because simple conversation has two benefits. First, it may allow you to have a break from what is causing you stress. Having a close friend call or stop by and chat can take your mind off the problem that plagues you. Second, when someone is there to speak with you, it affords you the opportunity to vent and release emotions and to gain perspective about the event which is cause you to suffer.

Surrounding yourself with people who love and care for you will undoubtedly change the outcome of your recovery. There is always someone who cares and who will be supportive. Whether it's a family member, close friend, peer or special person in your life, don't shut people out. Withdrawing yourself will make it more difficult for you to rebound and feel better.

Releasing Balloons
Releasing Balloons | Source
Blowing Bubbles
Blowing Bubbles | Source

Have Some Fun

When depression hits, having fun is the last thing on your mind however, laughter can relax your soul. Get up, get out and do something that you enjoy. Engage yourself in something that makes you laugh and remember how contagious laughter is.

  1. Feed the ducks.
  2. Release balloons for no reason at all.
  3. Fly a kite.
  4. Skip, don't walk.
  5. Listen to a child's story.
  6. Play catch.
  7. Watch birds.
  8. Blow bubbles.
  9. Play hide and seek with a child.
  10. Draw a picture.
  11. Go to a pet store and play with a dog (or a snake if you prefer).
  12. Go fishing.
  13. Pick some flowers - put them in a vase where you can see them.
  14. Dance alone to your favorite music - or play air guitar if you cannot dance.
  15. Buy a fish.
  16. Bake cookies for someone else (sample one - just to be sure they're yummy).

Examples of Positives

  • Music
  • Books
  • Friends
  • Family (yes, I said it.)
  • Relationships
  • Artistic influences
  • Pets
  • Physical home atmosphere

Surround Yourself With Positives

Surrounding yourself with positives is important because it will give you a boost of support when you need it and provide happiness and laughter when you least expect it. If there is happiness and positivity in the atmosphere, your subsequent depression will gradually begin to breakdown and subside. If you are in a state of depression and surrounded by negative influences then it's likely that you will only sink deeper into sadness and despair.


Lend Kindness To Your Inner Voice

When you are giving yourself a pep-talk, listen to the way you speak. Is it negative? Is it harsh? Are you feeling and expressing shame or guilt? If you are putting yourself through constant torture then it is less likely for your emotional well being to heal. In fact, punishing yourself will most likely send you into a deeper state of despondency.

Let go of the past. You cannot change what happened to arrive at this moment but you can control every choice you make from this moment on. Don't spend another single second punishing yourself. Crumple that paper up, throw it away and be finished with it.

Make Plans, Set Goals and Prepare For The Future

Make a list of things you want to do immediately, soon and in the future, then begin planning on how you will arrive at each of those goals. Planning for the future is exciting and brings hope. Take life one day at a time and if you have a setback, don't punish yourself, simply start again. If you have a major setback, reach out for your support system and ask for help but don't put yourself through a mental incarceration.

As you reach each of your goals, congratulate yourself and celebrate your success. Feel good about the distance you've come.

Have you ever suffered with depression?

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Working Toward Inner Peace

There are many ways you can better your life. Small enhancements can make big differences.

  • Pace yourself - don't rush your recovery.
  • Don't run away - trust the recovery process and allow your loved ones to help.
  • Protect your physical health - do things to make yourself feel good every day.
  • Refuse to live with regrets - let go of the things you cannot change.
  • Avoid major changes - they can be detrimental to progress.
  • Feel positive emotions.
  • Speak positive words and think positive thoughts.

Cultivate Your Faith

Faith provides hope. In times of heartache, faith can lift a person out of frustration and despair, it can give new meaning to existence and it can provide perspective about the past. Don't try to analyze everything that has happened. Leave it to your higher power and let the healing begin.

Have a Check-up

Make sure that there aren't any medical conditions contributing to the blues. There are many physical issues that can exacerbate depression symptoms such as thyroid problems, hypoglycemia, an amino imbalance, an endocrine imbalance, various viruses, cardiac conditions or seizure disorders. Give your doctor a call to make sure.

If your depression persists over time, it might be necessary to consider counseling from a psychologist, pastor or psychiatrist. Your doctor might also suggest medication. These types of help don't make you inferior or weak, but they do give you an opportunity to breathe and gain perspective. They are a sign of strength and tenacity so don't be afraid to ask for professional medical help.

Happiness at Last
Happiness at Last | Source

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