10 ways to cope with depression

Recovering from depression takes time and it can be extremely hard. What works one day may not work as well the next. By having a range of coping strategies will allow you to adapt and handle whatever depression throws your way.

Here are some tips for coping with depression:

  1. Challenge negative thinking – being able to recognise when depression is pulling you down is the first step toward recovery. When you are depressed, all sorts of negative thoughts can get stuck in your head, so it’s important to be able to keep these in check. Being depressed is not a sign of weakness, anyone can suffer from depression.
  2. Shift your attention – if your mood is weighing you down to the point where it feels impossible to challenge your thoughts, then try taking a step back to concentrate on something else. This can be especially helpful when trying to deal with and overcome suicidal thoughts. Mindfulness exercises can help to shift the attention away from negative thoughts.
  3. Set small goals – depression can make the simplest tasks seem daunting, so aim for small and achievable steps. For example, instead of getting stuck thinking ‘how am I going to get to work every day this week’, think about getting to work today. Then break it down further; getting out of bed, getting washed and dressed, eating breakfast etc. Each time you complete a step, give yourself credit. Simply getting out of bed when fighting depression is an accomplishment and if that’s all you can do one day, that’s okay. Push yourself but don’t punish yourself if some days are harder.
  4. Focus on the basics – healthy eating, the right amount of sleep and physical activity can make a huge impact on your ability to successfully manage depression. Make sure to think ‘physical activity’ and not ‘exercise’. Going for a short walk, doing household chores, or anything that gets you up and moving counts. Getting outside and into the sun can also help.
  5. Keep doing things – this might seem hard at first as you won’t have the same amount of energy you normally do, but it will give your mind something else to think about (and a rest from depressed thoughts). Try concentrating your attention elsewhere instead of sitting with your thoughts all day. Go for a walk, work on a hobby, meet a friend for coffee. Once you get going, you’ll also find you have more energy than you thought you would.
  6. Reach out to friends and family – lots of people hide feeling depressed from the very people that could help the most. Talking about what’s causing you stress or bringing you down can help lessen the intensity of these thoughts. Give those closest to you a chance to help.
  7. Talk to a therapist – therapy can help you to learn why you are feeling depressed and learn to develop new life skills, so you can enjoy life.
  8. Keep some humour in your life – find ways to have fun and laugh as this gives your mind a break from all the negative thoughts depression brings. Talk to a friend, watching a funny movie, or following a humorous account on social media.
  9. Avoid or limit alcohol and other substance use – drinking and other substance use may feel like a way to distract, distance, or numb yourself from the pains of depression, but it isn’t a healthy way and will often leave you feeling worse or lead to other problems.
  10. Give yourself credit – battling depression is extremely hard, be proud of any steps and progress you make, even if it takes longer than you hoped for. Recovering from depression takes time. The new habits and skills you learn now will help you throughout your life.

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