8 Ways to Get Through the Day When You’re Depressed

Below is a great article found on Everyday Health
Author David Blistein shares his personal tips on how to make the day a little less painful when you’re in the midst of major depression or anxiety.

By David Blistein Last Updated: 4/24/2013
You’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed. You’re so anxious you can’t stop moving. Maybe both. That latest medication or complementary treatment seems to be helping. Or you’re thinking nothing’s ever going to work. Regardless, simply getting through the day is a challenge. I’ve been there.

Here are some things I have tried that might help you as well:

Be kind to yourself. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t think, “I shouldn’t have a broken leg.” But if you’re depressed, it’s easy to think, “I shouldn’t be depressed,” or “I should calm down.” In our culture, we pride ourselves on pushing through things. When you’re depressed, however, “beating yourself up” only increases your sense of helplessness. It’s OK if you aren’t as much fun to be around. It’s OK if you’re not as productive as usual. You don’t have a broken leg…you have a broken heart. And it takes time to heal.

Take small steps. Lying in bed wishing you could just pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep? It’s OK to keep lying there. Maybe do one small thing that might make you feel a bit better. Like smile for ten seconds. Or stretch a little. I know you don’t feel like smiling or stretching. But give it a shot. Maybe you can manage to get up but don’t feel like doing anything. Make some tea or coffee, go to a comfortable chair and look out a window. Sit outside if the weather’s OK. In winter you can zip yourself into a sleeping bag or cover yourself with blankets. I was so manic I had to get out of bed (often at 4 or 5 a.m.) I couldn’t sit and meditate even though I’d done it for years. I was, however, able to take few deep breaths once in a while. That was the best I could do, so that’s what I did.

Take a hike. Everyone knows how important exercise can be to mental health. It not only produces endorphins but can give you a feeling of accomplishment. There’s no need to do some heavy-duty workout. If you don’t feel like running, walk. If you don’t feel like walking, stroll. Just move your body a bit each day. Even though I walked and biked a lot, I still felt trapped inside my own head. So I’d try to feel my feet on the ground…just for a few seconds. Or look at something outside my brain—a tree, a flower, the sky. Taking a little hike someplace you’ve never been before can help pull you out of yourself a bit. OK, I admit it—a few times I hugged a tree. I felt really silly doing it. But, I could actually feel some of my anxiety dissolving into the tree. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Get a massage. Whether you’re depressed or anxious, massage is one of the best ways to be kind to yourself. So are other “hands-on” treatments, such as craniosacral therapy and Reiki. Plus, scheduling a massage every week gives you something to look forward to. If you can’t afford one, ask your partner or a friend. They don’t have to have any special skills. My only caveat would be that deep massage techniques like shiatsu or rolfing can bring up emotional stuff. So it’d be best of the person doing it has experience massaging clients with depression and mania.

Repeat after me. When you’re depressed, being asked to think positively can be like asking someone who’s color blind to see red. But you can pretend to think positively. Again, just for a few seconds, or a minute. Say to yourself, or out loud, “I feel fabulous. I feel fabulous. I feel fabulous.” Think of it like a mantra, or a prayer, or the way children “make believe” in order to have different experiences.

Write or draw. Describing your experience can give you little distance from it. I wrote a lot of e-mails when I was going through my breakdown. Knowing there was someone out there listening helped get those thoughts out of me instead of just rolling around in my head. Drawing can also help get things unstuck. You don’t have to be an artist. Scribbling is just as effective. Use lots of colors.

Talk to Friends. This one’s a bit tricky. Because most friends want you to feel better so badly, they often make suggestions that make you feel more inadequate. It’s OK to ask a friend to just listen. Just listen. To only make suggestions if you ask for them. It’s also OK not to talk. Marilyn Monroe, of all people, said: “It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”

Cry and scream. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s a way to let go. I wouldn’t overdo it in front of the kids or at work, but when you can find a safe place to just let it go…let it go.

Self-Care at Work

All the things I’ve written about may sound nice—and can be good complements (although not replacements) for professional help. But what about when you have a 9 to 5 job and spend most of your time trying to mask how badly you feel? If you get “mental health days” take advantage of them. No need to feel guilty about it. They’re as important as sick days. If possible, find someone at work you can confide in…so you can let the mask down a bit during the day. Finally, you can usually take those few deep breaths or go for that short walk.

I really hope this helps. While I’m not dealing with severe depression now, I have been. And at various times I did all of these things. They certainly weren’t cures in themselves (that usually requires working with professionals), but they always took the edge off. And they helped me get through the day.

David Blistein is the author of David’s Inferno: My Journey Through the Dark Wood of Depression (Hatherleigh Press, March 2013).

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