Among all the mental health conditions in the world, depression is one of the most common and also one of the most debilitating. Whether you’re an athlete who has a big game coming up or a student with a test to study for, depression makes life that much more hard. Depression isn’t something that a person can just snap out of whenever they feel like it. It can feel very much out of your control, but you actually have a lot more power than you might realize. There are many ways to fight through depression, some more subtle, and others more obvious. Even the smallest changes can have the biggest difference though. Admitting you are depressed is step one. After you’ve opened up to a friend, family member, or therapist, you can finally start taking more steps to make yourself feel even better.
Form a Solid Community
If you’re going to win the fight against depression, you need an army of people behind you for plenty of support. This includes friends who know you well, family members who will be there for you, and even a good therapist that you can talk about anything with. There are even support groups you can join where you’ll be able to connect with others going through similar feelings and experiences as you. You might feel like a burden when you have depression, but nothing could be further from the truth. You also might be tempted to isolate yourself from others for this reason, but you should actually do the opposite and surround yourself with as many people as you possibly can. Your loved ones care a lot about you, so don’t let yourself be convinced otherwise.
Make Yourself Move
If you have depression, you’ll probably feel pretty lethargic a lot of the time. You might not be able to get out of bed some mornings. While it may not feel like a choice, it’s essential you force your body to get up and get moving. Exercise can make you feel better in ways you didn’t think possible. Even if you don’t go exercise, try little movements at a minimum. Even things like going grocery shopping, running errands, or gardening will get you out of the house and moving your body. Consider joining a sports team, which combines community and movement. You’ll get close with your teammates while also getting some exercise. There are lots of options for sports to choose from, so pick one that you think you’ll love. Don’t enjoy running? Track and field probably aren’t for you. Scared of water? Swimming might make you feel worse. Sports like volleyball and tennis are great for people wanting something low impact.
Practice Thought Control
With depression comes all of the negative, self-defeating thoughts. It can be almost impossible to think positively when your entire world feels sad. To change your way of thinking, try challenging those self-defeating thoughts. Whenever a thought comes up, think about where it’s coming from. Most of your negative thoughts will not be true, so replace them with something that is true, more positive, and encouraging. This will be hard at first but gets easier as you do it more often. Of course, there is such a thing as toxic positivity, which you want to avoid. You should also surround yourself with people who encourage you to abandon these negative thought patterns, but also understand you can’t just snap out of it.
Do the Things you Love
If you don’t already have a hobby or two, now is the time to get one. People who have hobbies are shown to be more resilient, happy, and content with their lives. Hobbies don’t have to be anything crazy or overly exciting. In fact, sometimes the simplest things are the most calming and helpful. Painting, playing the guitar, skiing, watching new movies, playing computer games, and going for jogs are all examples of hobbies held by people with and without depression. Let your creativity and sense of self come alive with a new hobby, and you may start to feel like yourself again. It’s important to have things to look forward to when you are experiencing depression. Looking forward to a tennis game, choir recital, business conference, or debate competition could be just the thing that gets you through the week.
Depression can be like a cloud that makes all your thoughts hazy and negative. So, sometimes it’s helpful to remember the good things you do have in your life. To practice gratitude, you can keep a list or journal and write down the things you’re thankful for. You should also try to write down the things you like about yourself, as depression can make you forget those things. Everyone has strengths and traits that make them unique—reminding yourself of those often is needed!
Depression is a complex issue that looks differently for everyone. Some people have severe depression while others have mild depression. No matter how severe someone’s depression is though, it is still an incredibly hard mental health condition to live with. Remember that every mental health condition takes time to recover from. It isn’t an easy or quick process at all, so it’s important not to rush it. The best thing you can do for someone with depression is just to be there for them as a friend and beacon of support. Offer them plenty of empathy, compassion, and a listening ear when they need it. Even small things like a quick text, phone call, or coffee date can let someone know they’re not alone.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.