I want to make one thing clear before you read on.
Depression isn’t something to accept.
If you feel depressed as you read this, or if you can remember times you suffered with depression…
It’s important you overcome it.
A life consumed by depression isn’t fulfilling.
I know… I’ve been there.
But what I wanted to make clear in this article is depression is OK.
It effects 1 in 4 people and without doubt as you read this someone within a few minutes of you, someone you might not even know is going through something similar.
Everyone will be effected by depression.
Whether it lasts for a day, a week, a month, a year, 10 years or even your whole lifetime, at some point we will all be affected by depression.
If not us, you can almost guarantee someone close to you, someone you cherish will.
Therefore this article is important.
The stigma attached to depression, attached to suicide and mental health is strongly affecting the way we deal with it.
Feeling depressed doesn’t make you any different to anyone else.
Of course it’s always going to be easier to talk to someone about your Sprained Ankle than the fact you feel depressed because of worry and anxiety.
But failing to do anything about it because you don’t think it’s ‘normal’ will only allow it to progress into deeper depression.
This article will not only show you how to handle depression, it will hopefully change your perception of it.
We All Have ‘Down Days’
I want you to think about a celebrity, or someone you have a huge crush on.
This person is perfect.
The way they talk, look, act.
Think about them just for a second…
That person shits.
Literally, think of them taking a huge dump for a minute.
I’m sure your perception quickly changes and you realise that this perfect person you adore is normal… just like you.
Although that example may sound a tad crazy, and probably a little unneeded, it’s important to realise that everyone is human.
Everyone feels and has to deal with emotions every single day.
The person you may label as ’successful’ will have days where they can’t be bothered to get out of bed, or days where worry, fear or anxiety is simply all they can think about.
Everyone has bad days.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have down days.
I look back to when I lost my Dad to suicide, and when I personally hit a state of depression and I look at how far I’ve come from then.
My happiness, my awareness and my life as a whole has improved dramatically but a few weeks ago I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed.
I didn’t feel great, I felt tired, exhausted and I started being consumed with anxiety.
The truth is, no one is honest if they tell you differently.
The difference for me now is being able to respond to the down days.
To become aware of them, to notice when I’m feeling down and to have the framework in place to bounce back.
I want to share with you how I (and others) do that.
Reacting To Depression
Before you can react to depression (or even low mood) you need to first understand it.
A few key symptoms to feeling depressed are as follows…
* Low mood, feeling down.
* Feeling guilt
* Feeling worthless, low self esteem
* Feeling isolated
* No pleasure in the things you enjoy
* Avoiding social events
* No excitement for the future
* Struggling to sleep
* Feeling tired all the time
* A ‘cant be bothered’ attitude
* Low energy
You need to be aware of your behaviours and emotions.
The symptoms of course differ from person to person.
For me, I understand when I’m feeling depressed through my low mood, avoiding social events, low energy and a ‘cant be bothered’ attitude.
Personally I could always fall asleep when depressed, I just couldn’t be bothered to wake up.
When you understand the feelings and behaviours you have when depressed it’s time to understand how to react to them.
Self awareness is one of the most important skills to practice.
Understanding yourself and your emotions will help you react to depression.
Here are some methods I use and some I recommend you try.
1. Talk About It
You’ve probably heard this time and time again but openly expressing how you feel will help lift your depression.
It’s of course harder than people make out (especially as a man).
My advice to you would be don’t force it.
You’ll often find yourself expressing your emotions to someone you never thought you would at a time and place you never imagined.
Your issues are always heightened when playing on repeat in your mind.
Writing them down and seeing them for what they are (just thoughts) or telling them to someone for some perspective will help like you never imagined.
One thing I do to manage my emotions and worries daily is write them down.
I’m much better at managing them within my mind but writing them down takes them a step further.
Write down your 3 main worries.
Then read them.
Are they as bad as they look in your mind?
You can write down the worst case scenario for that worry, which again when read back will assure you that it’s very unlikely to happen.
You can then write down a solution and action steps to overcome it.
Just putting your worries down on paper will help massively.
2. Build A Foundation Of Good Habits
Another way I deal with depression today is through the habits I’ve already established.
Back when I suffered with depression for quite a while I didn’t have any good habits to fall back on.
My Dad died, I didn’t deal with it. I kept busy with work and the daily activities a young adult would carry out to simply distract myself from the emotions I didn’t want to deal with.
This busyness wasn’t beneficial.
I established a lot of bad habits (not eating well, not exercising, no reading, no calming exercises etc)
When those emotions I buried resurfaced and I hit depression I had nothing to rely on.
I didn’t have any established habits to fall back on.
All I had was this busy work life and lifestyle I’d created, which as you may know is completely useless when you’re depressed and you don’t want to leave bed.
Do as much as you can to start establishing good habits.
If you’re depressed as you read this, commit to doing something every day.
Even if it’s just 10 minutes of one of the habits I recommend below, do as much as you can to get going.
If you haven’t hit a depressive state right now, this is the time to put in the work.
Start establishing good habits so you’ll naturally be able to fall back on them if you do struggle.
For me, I established the habit of exercising reguarly and eating well.
I was a big one for eating shit, drinking too much and always yo yo dieting. I was never consistent because I always tried to do something too radical.
I turned things around by focusing on sustainability. (Read my post on A Simple Way To Improve Your Nutrition)
I introduced a workout plan and a nutrition plan that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.
I commited to just 10 minutes of exercise each day and introduced healthier options. I still indulged in my favourite treats, but 70% – 80% of the time I ate healthier.
This small adjustment after a while developed as a habit.
1 year later and if I go a few days without exercising and eating badly I’m triggered to get back to it.
It’s like if I don’t clean my teeth for a day.
I’m reminded to do it, it’s become a habit.
Do what you can to try and implement some of the following recommendations into your daily routine.
I’m not asking you to do all of them, for hours a day, just start small.
* Eating Better
Reduce your sugar intake, processed foods and switch to real ingredients. Drink more water and don’t be afraid to reward yourself with the odd treat.
It could be as simple as walking for 10 minutes, or simply just do a few sprints on the spot. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel good hormone.
* Cold Showers
This takes a bit of will power but spending just 30 seconds in a cold shower can change your state.
Avoid the news, negative people and start feeding your mind with positivity. Try affirmations, watch an inspiring video and read something positive.
* Laugh More
Spend time with the friend who makes you laugh the most, watch a film that makes you laugh or browse YouTube for some funny clips. Scientific tests have linked laughing more to increase your overall happiness.
* Do Something You Enjoy
It could be walking, escaping to nature, playing Football or an old hobby you haven’t done for a while. Seek happiness in everything you do.
We All Suffer
Honestly, as I’ve already mentioned we’re all human.
If someone doesn’t portray any signs of unhappiness or worry you’ll tend to find they’re either very good at mastering their emotions or they’re very good at hiding behind their ego.
My Dad’s depression came out of no where.
It wasn’t clear for us to see and I don’t even think he expected it.
He broke down.
Within the space of his initial break down, showing signs of depression, he attempted to take his own life two weeks later.
Just two weeks from hitting depression to an attempt on taking his own life.
*My Dad and Nan (who we lost a month after my Dad)
This is something that’s extremely common right now, especially for men, driving the shocking statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 right now.
We’re not self aware, we keep ourselves busy to avoid our depression, anxiety or worries and when every emotion we’ve buried throughout our past resurfaces we can’t handle it.
If my Dad managed his emotions better earlier on, if he understood that depression and being open about his emotions was ok he may have never done what he did.
We all have down days…
We will all suffer with depression (or know someone close to us who is)…
Please remember that.
Other Resources That Might Help
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