If you’re depressed, you are all too familiar with that listless, foggy, draggy feeling. Depression can negatively affect our personal lives, our work life, our sense of ambition. Left unmanaged, it can snowball into much bigger problems.
As a cloud of gloom settles on you and the depression makes you too exhausted to do anything, these simple time-tested remedies can at least give you a little step in the right direction so that you can soon overcome that empty feeling.1Force Yourself to Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night. That means, under the covers, lights out. Many scientific studies have proven that the way to get little kids to go to bed is to build a routine – the same things happen in the same order each night so they are triggered into sleepiness. Turns out, it works for grownups too! My routine when I feel a depression cloud coming on: 45 minutes before my chosen bedtime, I turn off all electronics; take a warm shower; wear my most comfortable jammies; turn off all the lights except the reading lamp beside my bed; then read a well-written book that interests me mentally but does not grab me emotionally. This takes my mind off my problems. I quit reading as soon as my eyelids get too heavy. Poof! I’m asleep fast and the last thing on my mind has nothing to do with the thing(s) I think are making me feel blue. 2Go Third Person on Yourself. When a writer writes a story, he has the choice to use what is called “first person” or “third person”. First person is, “I went to the store.” Third person is, “She went to the store.” One common trait among depressed people is to make it all about ourselves, our misery, our problems. So a clever trick is to use yourself as the character in a story. You can write it out (preferable) or you can talk it out in your head (works fine). Here’s an example:
“Jon had a really crummy day today. It began when he spilled coffee down his shirt while driving to work. Jon thinks stuff like that always happens to him, but since nothing always happens to anyone, Jon realizes he may be catastrophizing his life right now. Nonetheless, just minutes after pulling into the parking lot…”3Give In. Absolutely give in…but for a fixed period of time. (After all, you don’t want to spend your whole life depressed!) Agree to let yourself wallow, cry, suffer, complain (hopefully just to yourself), grumble, binge watch old TV shows, whatever you need to do – for two hours, a half day, a whole day. Tell yourself, “I absolutely feel this way. It is real. But it doesn’t have to stay like this after 6PM.” Or whatever. By indulging, you do two things: you give credit to the reality of how you’re feeling in this moment and you are cueing your brain to realize that depression is a Limited Time Offer. 4Drink Twice Your Normal Amount of Plain Ol’ Water. Super insane idea, right? Not really. Your brain runs on water like your car runs on gas. People who drink a lot of caffeine, a diuretic, may actually be hurting their brain’s ability to function healthfully because they lower the water level in their bodies! When you tank up on water, you may find your brain starts spitting out random happy thoughts as it gets back on the Happy Road. 5Bite an Elephant. The psychiatrists tell us that depression is biochemical. I’m sure they are right, but if your depression is triggered by a Real Life Thing – getting fired, breaking up with someone, your teenager being a jerk, going broke – or staying broke too long, health issues, whatever – then even if you start sucking down the anti-depressants, you still need to do something about the Real Life Thing. If you refuse therapy (or can’t afford the time or money) then you have to do something. I heard a weird challenge in a speech once.
The speaker asked us, “How do you eat an elephant?”
The answer is, “One bite at a time.”
Of course I’m not recommending anyone really put elephant on the dinner menu! This is an illustration that if you have an elephant-sized task in front of you, you can only start with the first bite. Usually, you can’t fix your Real Life Thing in an hour. You may not be able to fix it in a year. But meanwhile, it makes no sense to settle into depression and hope the “elephant in the room” goes away. You’ll have to muster the energy to do just one teeny, tiny thing. Take one bite. It’s the best anyone can do.
Depression brings with it the lethal combination of helplessness and hopelessness, sprinkled with drained energy. Part of the cure is to find the strength to do just that one thing, because one leads to two leads to three and after a while, you’ll start to see some actual progress. The progress will act as a tow rope, slowly pulling you up out of the ditch you’ve tumbled into!
You may be feeling depressed but you are not depressed. Depression is a feeling – like happiness, sadness, anger, etc. You don’t permanently stay in any one feeling, and no one feeling defines the interesting, complex, unique person you are.
Find the strength to pick even just one of these 5 steps and pretty soon, you’ll find a ray of sunshine poking through your cloud of gloom, and who knows? You may find blue skies ahead!
Sick and Tired of Feeling Depressed?