Thoughts compiled by Cynthia Gill MA, LMFT.
Depression is rampant in our society, and here are some ways to overcome it.
1. Let yourself be grateful.
All of us can find little things to be thankful for. We live in the most-affluent nation on earth and have many blessings that we can say ‘Thank you’ for. Write down three things every day that are different, some specific, small things, that elicit an attitude of gratitude in you.
Help at a homeless shelter, make meals for shut-ins, help out at a place for orphaned animals, visit elderly people in a nursing home, rake your 90-year-old neighbor's yard. A1I of these get the focus off of yourself, and on to someone else. Who has it worse· than you. It’s guaranteed to make a person feel better.
Even a 15-minute walk will produce some endorphins, making you feel better. However, you like to exercise: biking, jogging, dancing, Pilates, walking, playing tennis or basketball… choose one and then figure out how you can do it several times a week. It really works!
Journaling is a very successful way to overcome depression. Somehow, committing it to paper gets it out of our minds and articulates it. That’s better than letting it sit in our head and ferment. When I journal, I try to end it with a positive thing, inspiration saying, a Bible verse, or a poem that lifts my spirits.
5. Read the Psalms.
David was depressed for over half of the Psalms and minced no words in expressing it. He vents quite vociferously in some places, for God isn't afraid of emotion! But notice, in every Psalm, there is at least one verse that shows the faithfulness of God. A little light illuminates the darkness. David knew all about the dark night, the agony of the soul.
6. Connect with someone.
It is the tendency of people who are struggling with depression to isolate themselves. Reach out, even though you don’t feel like it! Ask a safe person if you can vent to them. Let them know that they aren’t to fix you, you just want their listening ear. Don’t stay alone, and it’s best not to do it through texting. Face-to-face contact is 100% better.
7. Pray about it.
I mean short prayers, like “God, I have lost hope, please help me.” “What shall I do about this despair?” Then expect God to answer you, even if you have doubts.
8. Work on something creative, use your hands.
Knitting, sewing, weaving, making cards, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, baking, cooking, play dough sculptures, beading, making jewelry, woodworking. These are just a few of ideas you can use to focus on something that you’re creating, and it feels good!
9. Cuddle with a pet.
If you have one, your love will pour into the animal, and often it will respond to you.
If you don't have one, borrow one. Consider getting one, as they are very therapeutic, or go to a pet shelter and cuddle with one there.
10. Educate yourself.
Reading or listening to podcasts about depression may help you to overcome it. There are many books and articles that address it and do a good job. Finding Hope Again by Drs. Neil T. Anderson and Hal Baumchen is a good one.
11. Try something new.
A new hobby, something that you’ve never thought of trying before, will distract you, and may give you a new lease on life. Another language (try Duolingo, a free app that allows you to learn languages easily), woodworking, writing letters to prisoners, gardening, any of the things mentioned in #8 above. Befriend a foreigner, write thank you notes to old teachers you liked, get involved with politics, or some cause that you feel strongly about.
12. Smile. It’s scientifically proven that smiling makes a person feel better. It uses less muscles to smile than to frown, and it sends the message to your brain that there is something to be happy about. (Learn more at Psychology Today) It’s also infectious, causing other people to smile, thanks to mirror neurons. Try it!
13. Ask someone to tell you that this too shall pass.
It might even get better tomorrow. Or next week, or next month. This came from a depressed client, and it makes sense. The distorted thinking one has is that it’ll always be this bad. That's never the case.
14. Are you eating healthy food? Plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables. And drinking enough water? Low in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol? How about your sleep? You need to take care of yourself physically to feel good.
15. Listen to music.
Music stimulates both sides of the brain and can reach deeper recesses of our soul than talking can. It isn't understood why, (people who have had strokes-can sometimes sing. but not talk), but it often works to calm and to encourage us. Have a playlist of encouraging songs ready to play when you get down and see if they don't work.
** If, however, you are seriously depressed, it would be good to see a professional. Rather than judge you, the counselor will help you learn some useful tools to defeat depression. It’s worth a try! 5 sessions could well be all the person would need.
A word about medication. I believe that anti-depressants are God's gift to us, but. Are to be used sparingly. If a person is very depressed, they might need something to get them back up to feeling decent again. But rarely should the medication be seen as a permanent solution. You need to change your thinking to get well and stay well. Medications in many cases are like the scaffolding on a house that is being built. It’s there for a while, but not there long term. Changing one's thinking, figuring out and beating the distortions is how one builds the house.
You CAN overcome depression! Many people go through it and come out the other You will too.
For further assistance in defeating your depression, please call 763-566-0088 and speak to our Client Services Coordinator or stop by the NewPath Mental Health Services office at 8401 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 340, Golden Valley, MN 55426 to find out about services you are interested in.