Being diagnosed with depression can be a very isolating experience. It can sap your energy and make doing even simple tasks more challenging. However, there are several steps you can take to help manage depression in your day to day life.
It is important to remember that these tips are not a replacement for treatment for depression, and it is always advisable to seek professional help if you are struggling with this condition.
What is Depression?
Depression is defined as a long period of a persistently low mood that affects everyday life. It is not uncommon to feel low for a few days or weeks, but this feeling often does not interfere with life to the extent that clinical depression does.
Some signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Losing interest in enjoyable activities and hobbies
- Feeling hopeless
- Isolating yourself from loved ones
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get
These symptoms can range from mild to debilitating and may be episodic in nature. Some think that people with depression simply can snap out of it, but this is not the case – depression is a deeply rooted psychological disorder that requires attention and effort to treat.
There are many ways you can manage the various symptoms of depression. Although it can feel overwhelming, even small steps can make a significant difference.
People with depression can struggle to look after themselves properly when their mood is particularly low and may neglect basic self-care, such as:
- Brushing their teeth
- Taking a shower
- Doing basic chores
- Drinking enough water
- Eating healthily
- Getting enough sleep
Even small actions can help combat symptoms of depression, and they can provide a sense of accomplishment. Even if you only do one thing, it can give you the extra boost to keep going and do more.
Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Sleep and mood have a close relationship. Many people with depression struggle with sleep, and one study found that 80% of those with major depressive disorder experience sleep disturbances.
1 By improving your sleep, you can also improve your mood!
Turning off all electronics at least an hour before bed can help people fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality. Doing this reduces the amount of blue light you are exposed to, as blue light tricks the body into thinking it’s still daytime.
Practise good sleep hygiene, too. Only use your bedroom for sleeping, and avoid working or using electronic devices in bed. Using laptops and phones in bed can cause you to associate sleep with stress, which can hinder rest and relaxation.
Use the Five Minute Rule
Depression can make it difficult to start tasks, causing work and chores to pile up. For those who struggle with a lack of energy and chronic tiredness, these tasks can begin to seem impossible and never-ending. Putting off important tasks can also fuel depression, and finding a way around procrastination can reduce guilt and stress.
Using the five-minute rule can make these tasks seem less overwhelming and give people a place to start. The rule is simple: do as much as you can in five minutes. You could pick a room to begin in, such as the bedroom or kitchen, and tackle the chores for just five minutes.
Although you might not get everything done, the five-minute rule allows you to make a start and take a break when the time is up. Many people also find they can carry on going after the initial five minutes and get a lot more done than they think!
We encounter stress in everyday life, but dealing with excessive stress can worsen depression and exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and extreme feelings of guilt.2 By reducing stress, you can also improve symptoms of depression.
You can reduce stress levels by:
- Reducing screen time on your phone – this is linked to higher levels of stress.3
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
- Taking a break from work if necessary.
- Setting healthy boundaries with friends, family, and work.
- Practising mindfulness by meditating or journaling.
Having a solid support network is vital for improving symptoms of depression. Depression can cause people to feel incredibly isolated, and they may withdraw, spending more time alone and not interacting with their loved ones as much. However, this can be incredibly damaging and worsen other symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness.
Finding support can mean different things to different people. For some, it may mean reaching out to friends and family more often, and for others, it could mean attending a support group. Regardless of the type of support you seek, having people you can lean on and who can offer encouragement when times get tough is highly beneficial for your mental health.
There are many ways to self-manage depression, from practising self-care and doing chores to meeting up with friends – even small actions can improve symptoms.
Some people are unable to manage their depression alone, and professional intervention may be needed. Reach out to Addcounsel today to learn more about our specialist treatment for depression. Using a one-client-at-a-time approach unique from any other mental health programme in London, we can help you. Contact us to find out more.
1 Soehner AM, Kaplan KA, Harvey AG. Prevalence and clinical correlates of co-occurring insomnia and hypersomnia symptoms in depression. J Affect Disord. 2014;167:93-7. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.05.060
2 Dedovic K, Ngiam J. The cortisol awakening response and major depression: examining the evidence. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015;11:1181-9. doi:10.2147/NDT.S62289
3 Vahedi Z, Saiphoo A. The association between smartphone use, stress, and anxiety: A meta-analytic review. Stress Health. 2018 Aug;34(3):347-358. doi: 10.1002/smi.2805. Epub 2018 Apr 19. PMID: 29673047.