Let me start by dispelling the overarching myth around this topic: Although professional therapy is always advised, sometimes the milder forms of depression can be dealt with in practical and cost-less ways. Of course this assumes that the person suffering from it is able to distinguish between chronic and acute depression. I will not spend time on explaining what these are, but I will share my own personal journey into finally overcoming my own depression about two years ago. So here are the 10 practical ways you can beat your own depression:
- Just Take A Walk Outdoors.
It has been scientifically proven that spending too much time indoors is not good for your health, and overall can be the main contributing factor of stress and depression. Taking a walk outside, though, has many health benefits like increased heart-rate and ease of breathing (if the air outside is not polluted). You will also have a more positive mood, especially when walking in a park or the greater natural outdoors.
2. Talk To Someone.
You don’t necessarily have to talk about how depressed you are as this may just make it worse. Instead, call or meet up with a friend and talk about your shared interests, your hopes and dreams, and also your weaknesses and failures, and be open to their suggestions on how you can improve on them. Members of your own family are a great start if meeting with a friend is not always possible. You may be surprised just how much wisdom your parent, sibling, partner, or even child might possess! Age really doesn’t matter.
3. Watch Something That Will Put A Smile On Your Face
The reason why comedy exists is to make us forget for a little while our petty problems and just have a good laugh. Watch a comedic movie, some stand up comedy, or a good old cartoon. Laughing releases anti-depressant chemicals from our brains and hence leaves us in a more uplifted spirit.
4. Join A Choir, Sports Club or A Church.
I had to put in the choir and church stuff here because, honestly for me, it was through joining these communities that I really started seeing positive change in the way I viewed life. When you are in a group, joined to achieve a common goal, you develop a sense of meaning and purpose for your existence. Besides meeting and forming lifelong friendships, you will always have someone you can share your struggles and triumphs with. You will be pushed to grow in ways that you never thought were possible because you have a support group that is always behind you to help and encourage you.
5. Practice Free-Writing and Doodling.
Besides keeping a daily dairy to simply jot down the events of the day, I have found that free-writing (i.e writing with no clear objection in mind) has been greatly beneficial for me. Take a pen and peace of paper and just let your imagination flow. Don’t be fussy about writing something coherent. Also, don’t really aim for perfection when doodling: let the pen do its thing.
6. Stay Away From Social Media.
One of the biggest depression inducers in our modern society is social media. Seeing all those happy friends, so-called “influencers” flexing their perfect beach-bodies, one can’t help feel that perhaps there is something missing, something wrong about ones self. Everyone else seems to always be succeeding when we, on the other end, are always failing; everyone else seems to be out and enjoying life in exotic locations around the world while we seem to be stuck in the same old boring job that doesn’t pay much, and the same old mundane domestic affairs we have to put up with everyday. Comparison starts creeping in, then envy, then eventually depression. “I’m not where I’m suppose to be in life,” you think to yourself, “I did not turn out they way I ought to have turned out. Just look at my belly. This acne ruins my face.” and so on, and so on. It really is overwhelming. That is why I started cutting the time I spent on my social media; which constituted more than two hours a day of mindless scrolling. Instead of adding value or connecting us, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have done more harm than good. Stop comparing yourself to unattainable ideals. Just stay away unless you really need to be online. Before opening that app, ask yourself these two simple questions: “Why am I doing this?” and “Will my activity add value or make me more miserable?”
In addition to the above mentioned points, here are a few more which I think have had a positive impact on my mental well-being:
7. Take a Shower, a Bath or a Swim. Water has a refreshing and stress relieving effect on the body.
8. Listen to a Podcast or the Radio.
Listen to Classical Music (Preferably Mozart, Haydn and Bach). Mozart’s Flute & Harp Concerto is a great place to start if you are not too familiar with this sort of music. It sure does have the power to blow away the cob-webs in the mind.
9. When you start feeling as though your life sucks, or that everything has gone wrong, write down all the things that you are grateful for. This exercise should become something of a daily habit, until you learn how to internalize it in your mind.
10. To wrap things up, if you feel like all these things fail to dispel your perceived depression, then there is no other option but to consult a a professional therapist. But for most of us, practicing even at least 3 of these simple exercises will do the trick. Life won’t always be rainbows and sunshine, but you are sure to face even the darkest storm with a more positive spirit and aptitude for the future.
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