How to Hope

It can take many different forms of varying degrees of severity, but one thing remains the same: Depression can be an often difficult and discouraging journey in life.  The good news is that there are some ways you can help yourself.

Getting out of a rut can be one of the greatest life skills one can master.  Think about the times when a rut has or attempted to consume you mentally, spiritually and physically.  Many well-meaning physicians prescribe prescriptions and give referrals to mental health professionals, with the hope that the in need uses the services in tandem.  Oftentimes, due to the very nature of depression and the patient’s unwillingness/inability to stick to scheduled appointments, the subject is merely in receipt of medication without proper medical supervision.  This can be especially dangerous for those who live alone or those without a strong support network.   

This may seem sufficient to some, but this narrow approach could unleash a myriad of problems. With an ever-growing list of new medications flooding the market, it would be a difficult task just to keep up with the possible side effects alone.  These may include the very real possibility of symptoms worsening and sometimes, rare cases of death.

This is not to discourage anyone from taking their legally prescribed and medically needed dosages.  This article is meant to shed light on some supplementary ways to improve the odds of managing depression.  Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, it’s important to stress that anyone seeking mental health help follow the directives as laid out by the doctor prescribing the course of treatment.

The following is a list of healthy behaviors that may help get things moving in the right direction:

1.       Get proper amounts of rest.  Rest without feeling guilty, that is; for it won’t benefit you much to lie in bed worrying throughout your day.  Try to stick to regular schedule for the sake of your circadian rhythm. 

2.       Get sunlight.  The effects of sitting in or near a sunny location at least 20 minutes per day have shown a marked improvement on those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.

3.       Exercise.  We’ve all heard about the benefits of endorphins that are release released due to exercise.  Increased circulation can help shake a listless feeling and make you more alert.

4.       Nutrition.  Remember to eat a balanced diet; ask your doctor about whether you made need supplements.  For example, some women may suffer from a lack of iron; leading to a feeling off weakness.

5.       Prayer/Meditation.  Take the time to be quiet.  Allow yourself to unplug from the noise and really listen to your thoughts. 

6.       Stop procrastinating.  Is there a project that you’ve been putting off and it’s wearing you down emotionally?  Tackle it and get it off your list; it can do wonders for your self-esteem.

7.       Socialize.  Take time to get out and meet with friends face to face.  Online friendships and updates to social media are fine, but remember to balance those contacts with interacting in person. 

8.       Change your focus.  Is there a worthy cause that has always piqued your interest?  Try investing some of your time or resources to make the world a more hospitable place.  You may be surprised as to the remarkable ways that tends to reap personal benefits.

9.       Set achievable goals.  For goals to be an effective technique in helping to temporarily eradicate the symptoms of some types of depression, they need to be achievable.  Don’t set your sights too far down the road.   Set ‘milestone’ goals and reward yourself along the way.

10.   Affirm this new skill set by surrounding yourself with positivity.  Limit your exposure to toxic people and their environments.  It’s ok to say no. 

While this list by no means exhaustive, it may give you a great starting point.  Remember that it’s your life; you have the power to make it beautiful!