A step at a time

Becoming depressed is not a sign of weakness – there are sound reasons for depression. CLAIRE RENCKEN looks at ways to combat it.

Various approaches exist to overcoming depression, which is a condition that many of us suffer from. The key to recovery, however, according to the HelpGuide.org website, is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw on whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.

Take things one day at a time and reward yourself for each accomplishment. The steps may seem small, but they’ll quickly add up. And for all the energy you put into your depression recovery, you’ll get back much more in return.

HelpGuide.org offers the following five self-help tips:

Cultivate supportive relationships

Getting the support you need plays a big role in lifting the fog of depression and keeping it away. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression, yet its very nature makes it difficult to reach out for help. While isolation and loneliness can trigger or worsen depression, maintaining emotionally close relationships can be instrumental in overcoming it.

Get moving

When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone exercising. However, exercise is a powerful tool for dealing with depression and for preventing relapse.

Eat a healthy, mood-boosting diet

What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats).

Do things that make you feel good

Choose to do things that relax and energise you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities in your day.

Challenge negative thinking

Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. While you can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by “just thinking positive”, try to stop being so hard on yourself. Challenge your negative thinking.

When to get professional help

If you’ve taken these steps and made positive lifestyle changes but your depression is lingering, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better!

In the words of Stephen Hawking: “Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there is a way out.”

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