Some people won’t see the value in a list of ideas to help combat depression. If you’ve never suffered from depression, then it can be hard to understand. Equally, if you’ve suffered from depression but have come out the other side, sometimes it’s hard to remember just how difficult that time was.
Intellectually, I think we’re all familiar with the healthy habits that will support our mental and physical health. The trouble with depression, though, is that it switches off that ‘common sense’ bit of your brain. It stops your brain from working properly.
When you’re experiencing depression, you don’t have access to all the information stored in your brain that tells you what to do to get out of it. That’s one of depression’s many cruel jokes.
You really need to be getting some fresh air and sunshine to help you feel better? Well, tough. Depression is going to keep on telling you that it’s better to stay right there, on the sofa, with that blanket and that bar of chocolate.
It takes an almost superhuman effort to break out of the box long enough to remember these things for yourself. That’s why you need lists like this one.
I’m not a medical expert, I’m not any kind of expert really. I do know depression though. It’s kicked my ass more often than seems fair, and it’s always there, over one shoulder or the other, waiting for me to let down my guard.
I know how it feels to have a constant internal dialogue about all the things I should do to help myself, and all the reasons I don’t feel able to do them right now. Maybe you’re there right now. Maybe you’ve just been there before, and you’re looking for ways to pull yourself out of depression more quickly next time around.
There’s nothing revolutionary in this list. It’s all stuff you know already. You just need a helping hand to remember what to try when everything sucks.
I know, I’ve said this before, and, if you stick around, you’ll hear me say it again. When you catch yourself starting to feel crappy, go and drink a glass of water. Do whatever it takes to make that water taste interesting enough for you to want to drink it. For me, it just takes a LOT of ice and a cup I love. I love iced water, year round. Staying hydrated is important. It helps your brain stay healthy, and a healthy brain is what’s needed if you’re going to combat depression.
If postnatal depression is your current nemesis, and you’ve got a tiny baby to care for, then you get extra sympathy because even with the best intentions, it’s probably impossible for you to get a full night’s sleep. Try though.
People have probably told you to sleep when the baby sleeps. Do that.
If you’ve got other children at home with you, figure out a way to get some rest while your baby sleeps anyway. If that means fitting a baby gate to the living room door and dozing on the sofa while Fireman Sam plays on a loop, that’s fine. This is a short season in life, and more TV than you’d like isn’t going to hurt anyone.
Know that you can be a better mama when you’re rested, and when depression doesn’t have such a hold over you. Sleep is one way to achieve that.
3. Bullet Journalling
This might sound like a weird thing to include in a list of ways to combat depression, but it’s definitely something that helps me. Keeping a bullet journal helps me to keep my life together, even when things get hard. If you haven’t heard about bullet journalling, I definitely recommend you check out the official bullet journal website to learn the basics – it only takes a few minutes to watch the introductory video.
The whole bullet journal system works well for keeping you organised, but there are some specific elements that can be useful in helping you combat depression.
A spread (page) to track your mood can be as simple as a list where you keep track of how you feel each day. As with everything bullet-journal related, though, you can also make your mood tracking spread as beautiful as you like. If you’re artistically inclined, that’ll come naturally. If, like me, you’re artistically challenged, you might want to consider something like this beautiful Mandala Mood Tracker from Etsy.
Another option is something like these cute mood tracker stickers to stick into your bullet journal and help you keep track.
One of my favourite ways to use my bullet journal when I start to feel overwhelmed by life is to do a brain dump. My bullet journal is pretty basic, and I don’t tend to go in for fancy lettering or pretty pictures. I just turn to a blank spread in my bullet journal and use it to get everything out of my head. At this stage, I don’t make any attempt at organising things or solving problems. I just write everything down.
Getting it out of your head and on to the page can really help.
Need to drink more water?
Want to make sure you get outside every day?
Know that it helps you combat depression if you get to bed early every night?
Whatever habit you want to incorporate in your life, a bullet journal habit tracker can help you keep track of it. There’s something about seeing all those little boxes filling up that can help you stay motivated.
One of my favourite ways to use a bullet journal habit tracker is to keep track of self-care activities. I know that staying on top of self-care is one of the most important things I can do to help me combat depression. I also know that those self-care habits are often the first to go out of the window when things get hard.
I know we’ve touched on this a little already, but it’s important, so it’s getting its own section.
If you want to get better at managing your mental health, get better at self-care.
You have to make your own health top priority. Especially if you’re responsible for keeping small people fed and cared for. Whatever it takes to help you stay on an even keel, that’s what you need to be doing every day.
If a half-hour bath with a good book helps you stay sane, do it. If you prefer a glass of wine and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, do that.
Self-care can be anything you do that’s just for you. Sometimes it’s physical things, like taking exercise, or drinking water. Sometimes it’s more to do with your mental health, maybe taking time to rest, or spending time journalling.
5. Staying Positive
Okay, so the last thing you want to hear when you’re suffering from depression, is that you should just stay positive. If it was that simple, then none of us would be living with depression. We’d just banish it with a dose of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
There are ways to make positivity a part of your life, though, even when everything feels overwhelming and difficult.
Getting into the habit of looking for good things in your life can help you feel better about everything. You could keep a gratitude journal, or make a spread in your bullet journal for keeping track of things you feel grateful for.
Positivity breeds more positivity, so training yourself to take a moment or two to look for something good can help. There’s always something, even it’s as simple as gratitude for having clean, fresh water to drink, or a safe home to live in.
Bleugh! I know. The last thing you feel like doing is heading to the gym or slipping on your running shoes. You know, though, that exercise can help you feel better. It doesn’t have to be intense, it doesn’t have to be hard work. It doesn’t even have to really feel like exercise.
A five-minute walk outside in the fresh air is better than no exercise. Yes, we all know we’re supposed to hit our 10,000 steps a day, but sometimes that just doesn’t feel doable. Set yourself tiny goals, and you’ve got a much better chance of achieving them.
7. Accepting Help
Why is it always easier to offer help than it is to accept it?
We’re all good at offering to pick up shopping for friends when they’re not well. We pick up other people’s children from school. We stop by with dinner when we think it’s needed.
Pretty much every mama I know is crap at asking for help though. Myself included.
Even when friends offer help, we hesitate before accepting it.
Challenge yourself to accept the next offer of help that comes your way. Friendship can definitely help you combat depression, and friends help one another.
Ready To Combat Depression?
These seven healthy habits should set you on the right path, and help you combat depression. Maybe you don’t need this help right now, it’s still worth saving for later. Pin it somewhere you won’t lose it, or make a note of your favourite ideas in your journal. Do something to make it easy for your depressed self to get hold of the information.