You Can Be Happy: Dealing With Depression…

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” – African Proverb.

A happy and sad emoticon

Not everyone can just will themselves to “snap-out-of-it” when they experience depression. But these tips could help put you on the road to recovery and properly manage episodes.

Tip 1: Reach out and stay connected to those that matter:
Getting support plays an important role in beating depression. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression on your own. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate making connecting with close family members and friends tough. But that’s just the depression talking. Stay connected to other people and taking part in social activities because it will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is never a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. If you think you don’t have caring friends, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.

Two women hugging

Tip 2: Do things that relax your mind make you feel good:
In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relaxe or energize you.
Do things you enjoy even when you don’t feel like it. Just start, and find how surprised you’ll be at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. The depressive mood might not lift immediately, but you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.

A woman doing Yoga

Tip 3: Get moving:
When you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is to get out of bed or the couch. Not to worry, you are not alone. But you’ve got to move. Exercise can be one action to take because it has been discovered that it is a powerful depression fighter and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal.
Instead of focusing on unresolved trauma or negative thought, focus on how your body feels as you move—such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing. You can also pair up with a partner as it can help in keeping you motivated. If you consider hitting the gym too strenuous, take a walk with friends, walk the dog, or watch happy people.

A group of women dancing a feeling happy

Tip 4: Eat a healthy and depression-fighting diet:
Yes! What you eat matters because it has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce, if possible, stop the intake of foods that can adversely affect both your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats).
You must know that going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat as regularly as your body needs food. Minimising your intake of sugar and refined carbs will help to avoid craving sugary/ “feel-good” snacks such as pasta or French fries, which will quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Finally, boost your B vitamins because Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.

A healthy sandwich

Tip 5: Get a daily dose of direct sunlight:
Did you know that sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood? Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. You can do this by taking a walk on your lunch break or having your coffee outside, or gardening. You can also exercise outside, hike, walk in a local park, or play golf or tennis with a friend.

A woman enjoying a dose of sunlight

Tip 6: Challenge the negative thoughts:
Depression puts a negative spin on everything, from the way you see yourself, your expectations for the future, to the challenges you face. When these types of thoughts show up, psychologists advise you to remember that the symptoms of your depression and the irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. Yet, they can be tough to give up. You can’t just snap-out-of-it by telling yourself to “just think positive” since most times it is almost a lifelong pattern of thinking that has become so automatic that you’re even completely unaware of it. So, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking.

A quote on happiness

Tip 7: Get professional help:
If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find yourself getting worse, seek professional help immediately. Seeking additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak.

Dr. Maymuna, Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist in Nigeria

Depression can be conquered. You have the right to be happy. Mental health is real let’s get on the road of recovery together.

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