Coping tips for managing depression
Living in a state of depression can feel overwhelming. The best thing you can do is get active in taking control back. It took me many years to master emotion regulation and control my thoughts. Now that I have these skills I am able to manage my depression. Here are some tips to help you do the same:
Get your mind right by getting honest with yourself – Reframing
I am not a fan of the phrase “think positive to attract positive.” That phrase makes my life hard, given that depression is anything but positive thoughts. But I am a fan of cognitive reframe. In my own words, reframing is training your mind to take the high road. To do so you must first acknowledge the truth of what you are thinking and feeling, and then combat that with pulling out the silver lining. Reframing is not as easy as it sounds, but the results are powerful. While depression focuses on pessimism, reframing acknowledges the negative and adds an optimistic spin. For example: losing a relationship with a loved one is hard. Reflecting on why things ended can highlight areas that you may need to grow. Now it is up to you to put in the work and become a better version of yourself based on this lesson.
Become your own advocate, consistently
Advocating for yourself requires you to know what you want. Your depressing thoughts may become your new normal, so it is important to sit down and break apart depressive self versus sober self. When you know what you want you can fight the depression that attacks your desires. Let’s say you want to go biking in the park on your off day, you can combat the depressive thought of laying in bed all day by actually getting up, getting dressed, and going biking! I spend a lot of time debating myself, because advocacy of the mind is an everyday battle. However, I can honestly say it is much easier to advocate against depression today than it was years ago when I first started this behavior.
I would like to note that it’s not just time that helped me get to this point. It is the consistency of separating my sober thoughts and desires from my depressive ones. One day I was listening to Design Your Life and the author kept saying “reframe” after presenting a negative perspective, then offering the new positive perspective. Without noticing it I begin to say “reframe” in my everyday life once the battle of the mind begin. Eventually I realized that I had built a “reframe” defense to my depressive thoughts. You should really try it. It’ll change your life.
Ground yourself in something bigger than you – religion and spirituality
Grounding is connecting you to the here and now. This point may be controversial for some, but having faith in Christ has grounded me. I was allowed to get myself out of my negative, self-centered bubble and focus my mind on a greater purpose. What I found was that love is the center of life and happiness.
Religion and/or spirituality grants comfort and guidance. Believing in something bigger than you pulls the weight of life off of you (John 16:13). Faith in religion and/or spirituality can often change your focus from your present state of mind. Depression is a battle of the mind and seeking a higher power will offer access to weapons you can use in your defense.
Faith in religion and/or spirituality often comes with community and this can be a positive influence as well. Community provides support and accountability. Having social support lets you know you’re not alone and surrounds you with people you can depend on, which leads me to my next point.
Social support – get involved
Getting involved can be achieved in more than one way. And in the midst of your community, it is important that your social group is eager to support you through your depression. The source of your social support can be friendly, spiritual, physical, topic based, activity based, health based, and more. Below is a quick list of activities that can provide social support:
- Join or start a book club
- Serving in a ministry at church
- Participating in local recreational sports
- Joining a gym and participating in their weekly classes
- Signing up to participate in community service with an organization
Seek professional help and do the work
This year I was committed to figuring out what I needed help with before I committed to going to see a professional. I didn’t want to become dependent on being “fixed” by someone. After 8 months of doing the inner work, I was ready to seek out professional help. This may not be your story, but I want to encourage you to do the digging AND have professional help. As long as you’re cognizant of your responsibility on this journey and the help that is available then I am happy.
You’ve got this handled!
In no way is this list exhaustive. It is also important to have those around you that are diligent about helping you with your depression. Tips for helping yourself through depression are endless. The main goal is that you do something! Leave a comment below and let me know any other tips that can be helpful!