10 Steps to helping you beat Depression – fast!
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kate M James, Psychotherapist (MBACP), BSc (Psych), MCNS (Acc)
Disclaimer: It is true that depression isn’t necessarily something you can banish in an instant, however a set of coping strategies and awareness CAN help you to HELP yourself.
- Get moving. Studies show that those who take some form of exercise daily have a better chance at lowering their depression. “Getting sweaty in your spare time means you’ll be twice as likely to stave off depression than someone who doesn’t” declares the Daily Mail. Take a walk, borrow a neighbour’s dog, go out with a friend, do stretches – it doesn’t have to be a strenuous work out, nor do you need to spend money on joining a gym.
- Fix your diet. A diet high in junk food, alcohol and smoking can cause feelings of sluggishness, lead to constipation and other digestive disorders. Dietary issues can lead to feeling unwell and depressed. Replacing your diet with highly nutritious food such as vegetables and fruit, whole grains and whole foods will pay dividends. Get yourself a colonic for a good clear out, then drink more water! Have a glass of water beside you to sip during the day. Drinking fruit juice does not replace your vitamins in the same way that a piece of fruit (with all the fibre content) will. Fruit juice can lead to weight gain – it is fluid without the goodness as all the goodness has been processed away! Alcohol increases your susceptibility to depression, *even* if you drink when you’re happy or celebrating. Alcohol increases your susceptibility to weight gain. Calories in a bag of crisps (35g): 180kcal. Calories in a large glass of red wine (250 mls): 191. Often we consume both at the same time! Weight gain can lead to depression! So “fixing your diet” will not only improve your depression but it will help you lose weight!
- Get sociable, engage with people. Although this doesn’t necessarily fight off feelings of loneliness, having a social support network can definitely help with beating feelings of depression. However this does mean *engaging* with people, sharing your story and seeking support. People love to help and support others in the right context.
- Develop your interests. Before you began feeling depressed, what did you do in your spare time? Were you creative? Sporty? Musical? Artistic? I’m convinced that everyone had something they really enjoyed doing but due to time pressures or other concerns they ceased pursuing their hobby. Think about it, research your area for where it might be and go and do it! Not only will it increase your levels of happiness, it is also sociable and fun! Some hobbies are more “singular” but perhaps there is a group in your area that meets weekly or monthly. Even if it’s not local, can you travel there by bicycle, car or bus?
- Negative thinking. People who are depressed seem to develop a cyclical thought pattern. The idea springs to mind and it is instantly “bashed” by thoughts of problems that would happen were they to pursue something. The comfort zone works but it doesn’t fulfil and it doesn’t change the patterns. Yes, you may fail, you may be sad, you may be rejected. But people who think in a positive way do not allow these disappointments to deter them. Take a chance and spread your wings and if you fall down, you will have learned something new and you won’t fail in that domain again because you will have learned. If you do fail again then perhaps that wasn’t the right move for you but there will be another opportunity! One door closes, another one opens.
- Sort out your problems. You may have a list of areas that do not help nor serve any more. Make a list and decide on the easiest one to get resolved first. How can you resolve it? By talking to friends or family? By writing it down and thinking through different solutions? Or talking to a counsellor – someone impartial who can reflect on what is going on for you and help you to find the solutions that are right for you.
- Stop complaining! Ok this sounds a bit brusque coming from a counsellor, but constantly complaining about an issue without resolution reinforces feelings of depression and possible inadequacy. People may respond and try to help but you perhaps won’t want to be sorted out *yet*. Some people find that this is their “comfort zone” even though it doesn’t help you live a harmonious and enjoyable life! For some people complaints need to explored and understood in terms of what lies behind them; for others there is a question of “timing” when suddenly epiphany strikes and their world is changed in a flash as they realise that life CAN be better if they stopped doing x, y and z. “If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got" by Henry Ford (1863-1947).
- Have realistic expectations. So you want to lose a stone in two weeks? You want to become an entrepreneur? Being divorced with multiple lovers? I’m being a little facetious even though there’s a grain of truth. What is your vision? What does it feel like to visualise success? Consider the steps you need to take to get there. Plan your steps with realism; be aware of distractions and if distractions are constant, do you need help with this? Consider hypnotherapy to beat procrastination and or distraction. Look at the steps you take – are they the same each time and let you down each time? Is it time to look at how you work on your goals and visions rather than what they are?
- Make changes. At the time of writing it is January 2013. A traditional time for people to want to change diet, wipe the slate, detox, improve their relationships, work environment and many such changes. Unfortunately it is human nature to want to change everything yet human nature to handle one thing at a time. Forget multi-tasking. My take on multi-tasking is a little more cynical – it was a phrase invented by men to get women to do more work J. If you desire change, change one thing at a time. Keep expectations realistic.
- Control your thinking. Change statements into a positive. For example: “I don’t want to keep smoking 20 a day” into “I’d like to be cigarette free in 4 weeks”. Set your intentions as a positive statement. “I don’t want to be in the same place in a year’s time” equals “I’d like to be in Paris in a year’s time”. So where do you want to be, how do you want to feel? “I don’t want to keep feeling like this any more” to “I want to feel joyful, I want to feel in love, I want to feel peaceful”. Jot down a ten point “feeling” list as to how you really want to feel.
Disclaimer: These tips are not designed to replace medical advice nor take the place of anti-depressants. If you have severe depression consult your GP and if you take medication, keep taking it on the doctor’s advice. Counselling can supplement medication.
Be happy! Stay happy!