It happens to all of us. You wake up one morning and you can feel depression lurking outside the door, waiting for you. You can’t stay in bed forever, so what can you do to keep the black dog at bay?
When you have a history of depression, it is vitally important that you take good care of yourself physically. Even though it is a “mental” illness, your mind is part of your body, and needs regular care. I realize that these tips may sound obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know.
Food. How have you been eating lately? With Halloween upon us it is easy to gorge on fun-size Snickers bars and the like, but that may not be the best way to nourish and support ourselves. I am not suggesting that you have to completely abstain from holiday treats (perish the thought!), but make sure that you are getting some fruits and vegetables, and not just chocolate.
Exercise. I know, it’s getting cold outside. The sun isn’t out for very long. The last thing you want to do is go for a run! So don’t. But if you feel depression creeping up on you, I would urge you to find some exercise – however small – that you can motivate yourself to do. Even just dancing to your favorite song for 4 minutes will get some endorphins flowing!
Stillness. Take some time for you. I don’t mean time to catch up on chores or to distract yourself by watching TV (however tempting that last one might be!). Take some time to get quiet and still. You can try doing nothing (which I’ve written about before), or you can play with a pet, take a relaxing bath, listen to the rain fall…. these are just a few options. It may be hard to practice stillness if depression is knocking on your door, but if you make it a regular practice it will help keep it at bay.
Socializing. As important as it is to be still, it is equally important to take time to connect with friends and family. Who is most important in your life right now? Try to spend some quality time with one of those individuals this week. Strong social ties have proven very helpful in preventing relapses into depression.
Obviously, none of these are a guarantee that depression won’t overtake you again, but they will help to make the bouts less frequent and less severe. How do you support yourself when you feel depression sneaking up on you? I’d love to read more suggestions and experiences in the comments.