Depression and negative thinking can happen to the best of us. Regardless of background or age. According to the World Health Organization, around 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. However, depression is often seen as weakness. That is why mental health is unfortunately still accompanied by stigma. The step to seek help is therefore only getting bigger and bigger.
We encourage everyone who suffers from depression to seek help. Below, however, we would like to share which you 10 surprising steps you can take yourself to overcome depression and sadness.
Your alarm clock goes off and you open your eyes. You realize that a new day has arrived. But actually you would prefer to close your eyes again. Pull the sheets over your face and stay in bed all day. Maybe you will.
If you have been brave enough to get out of bed, you have to do your best to get through the day. You see people laughing and living, but with you that zest for life is far away.
Of course, everyone can have a lesser day. But if this feeling persists for more than two weeks, there is a good chance that you will have to deal with depression.
The 10 ways we share below will hopefully help you overcome your depression. Or turn that gloomy day around.
10. Consistent Day Rhythm
The scene described above is very common. Depression makes you not feel like anything. Because of this you easily end up in a passive and especially vicious circle. By keeping a daily rhythm you can break this circle.
Get out of bed at the same time every day. Get back in at the same time every evening. Fixed times to eat and perform other activities. Make sure that your daily rhythm provides a handhold!
Exercise doesn’t just keep you physically fit. It is also very good for our mental condition. So if you suffer from depression, it might be a good idea to try sports first before taking medication.
There is even a scientific explanation for this ”miracle cure”. Exercise improves the endorphin system. Endorphins are also called the hormone of happiness.
This substance is produced by our brain to control our behaviour. And mainly ensures a very pleasant feeling. It actually works as a kind of reward for your body. An extra bonus: When you exercise outdoors, sunlight provides extra endorphin production!
8. Into Nature!
It has been proven that people who live in a green environment suffer less from anxiety disorders and depression.
Besides that the endorphin production rises considerably when we go out into nature. A green environment has even more positive effects on our mental health.
It restores or prevents stress. It can encourage social contact. It stimulates movement (endorphin endorphin!) and it would even promote personal development and meaning. So… have you already put on your running shoes?
7. Adjusting Your Diet
New research suggests that depression may be caused by small inflammations in the body and brain.
This means that you can see depression as a condition in your body. So you are not depressed, you have a depression. But it is also something you can shake off with the right guidance and practical changes in your life.
Even though your depression is not the result of a physical cause, it is a good idea to at least rule this out. Moreover, your body will only thank you for it.
Let’s start by switching to an anti-inflammatory diet. Or while, mostly plant-based and as unprocessed as possible. Suggestions:
- Lots of fruit and vegetables
- Little to no dairy and meat
- Many legumes
- Little to no sugar and white flour
- Mainly wholemeal products
- More nuts and seeds
- Less processed junk (such as crisps, chocolate, candy, chips)
- Little to no alcohol
- Many leafy vegetables
- More green tea and herbal teas
Changing your diet makes you feel more energetic, fitter and stronger. Your hormones gradually come into balance. As a result, your hormones become less disrupted.
Take your time to adopt this lifestyle. The healthier your body becomes, the better your brain will function. The good news: a well-functioning brain moves away from gloominess and depression!
The purpose of meditation is not to suppress negative thoughts but to realize that you are not the thoughts.
As Jelle Hermus says, you can see a depressed brain as a storm filled with dark thunderclouds. There are so many clouds that it feels like there is no more sun.
But as the saying go’s, after rain comes sunshine. Behind those thick clouds there’s always blue sky. Quiet, calm, patiently waiting for the clouds to pass.
Because of depression you only occupy yourself with the clouds, you lose yourself in the storm. As if they’re tangible.
But nothing could be further from the truth, the clouds are not tangible, they are not real. You can’t hold them. They come and go. The more attention you pay to them, the more clouds come.
So what are those clouds? An illusion. So your dark thoughts aren’t who you are either. On the other hand, you are the blue sky under all those dark clouds. The clouds just float through them.
Meditation helps you to drive the clouds away. It’s a skill you have to learn. But practice makes perfect. The purpose of meditation is not to clear your head. That’s just one effect of it. In meditation you focus on something other than thoughts. For example, on your breathing. The longer you do that, the more clouds will disappear.
Meditation provides inner peace, patience, compassion and joy. Something that everyone wants to feel. But especially important for people who suffer from depression.
There will be countless forms of meditation. For one it’s concentrating on breathing. For the other, it is to enter nature and bring yourself all the way to the present moment.
5. Self Compassion
Would you talk to your loved ones the same way you talk to yourself? If the answer is no, it might be wise to change that. When we talk to our loved ones, we often compliment them. We encourage them. We have compassion and patience.
We also see the happiness that that brings. In spite of that, we often find it difficult to talk to ourselves that way. We are often in dialogue with ourselves. What we sometimes forget is that the way we talk to ourselves has a direct impact on our lives and moods.
So in this period we just be nicer against and for yourself. Your brain is disturbed, hormones are out of balance. That’s heavy, but not something to bring yourself down. Feelings of guilt and rejection towards yourself will not reduce your depression, but rather aggravate it.
So you’re not stupid or unsociable. The depression causes your brain to darken its view of reality. This does not mean that your friends and family no longer care about you. Even if it sometimes feels that way. It also doesn’t mean that you’re the only one walking around with this. Even if it feels like that sometimes.
So be nice to yourself! This is a hard and difficult time in your life. You deserve some compassion and especially from yourself. Try to accept your situation with love and patience. Give yourself room to get out of your depression.
Several studies have proven that practicing gratitude is a valuable remedy for depression, stress and depression.
At first, it may be difficult to understand why gratitude would help during depression. After all, depression is not something you feel grateful for, you may wonder. You may therefore think that you won’t find anything to be thankful for.
Still, we want to challenge you to look harder. Gratitude is already in the little things of life. Like “The sun is shining” “I feel love for my children,” “I’ve got a roof over my head. “that cup of tea was delicious”, “my body is healthy” and so on and so forth.
When we practice gratitude, we focus our attention on what works in our lives instead of what does not. This shift in perception changes the chemistry in our brain. Negative thoughts make way for some sunlight.
How do you make this practical? For example, you can keep a thankfulness booklet. In which you write down every day what you’re thankful for. Use pictures. Pictures and lots of colors. Things that make you feel good. Maybe there are statements that motivate you or music that makes you happy, write this down.
You can also give yourself a compliment or write down qualities of yourself that you are proud of (self compassion, remember?).
When you feel depressed, you can take your diary and browse through it. This will remind you that your life is not as dark as your depression sketches it in your head.
3. Social Contact
People who suffer from depression are more likely to become entangled in social isolation. It feels safe to retreat into your own home. This is a logical reaction but it doesn’t help you to get out of your depression. Social isolation results in loneliness. And loneliness is again a fertile breeding ground for depressive thoughts.
So look for social interaction every day. Even interaction with your pet has a positive influence on your mood (even more reason to adopt a pet!).
Explain to your friends and family that you are struggling with depression. Tell them, for example, that you’re not in the best mood at the moment, but that you really appreciate their company.
By doing this you will create understanding and you will notice that there are enough sweet people around you who want to help you through this difficult period.
So you’re not alone. You don’t have to do this alone. You really don’t have to be ashamed of the depression you’re suffering from.
Seek support from friends or family. You may also find other people in your environment who have been in the same situation. This can be very helpful. Other people who can help you are your family, doctors and any counsellors.
Therapy can also be a safe place to work on yourself, so that you can climb out of your depression.
1. Stop Philosophising And Overthinking For a Moment.
You can lose yourself completely in thinking about your situation. Try to jump out of your philosophical spiral and bring your attention back to the present moment. Philosophising is extremely interesting, but you can do it better when you are not in a depression.
Experiment with the advice above. Be good for your body. Move and go into nature. Eat healthily. Meditate and be kind to yourself. Focus on the things you are grateful for. Seek out your friends and family and ask for help. Opening this article was your first step. You’ll get through this.