11 Ways to Beat Depression and Low Mood
According to the World Health Organisation more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and it is the leading cause of disability. Depression has been named the common cold of mental illness and is believed to affect everyone at some point in the lifespan, but in differing levels of severity. Depression is diagnosed by a doctor and sometimes treated with medication, and sometimes not. It can go undiagnosed of course and some people who have milder forms of it may come to see it as the norm and not realise they are suffering from it. Like in the case of an auto-immune disease where the body is attacking itself, in low mood it is sometimes as though the mind attacks itself with negative self-depreciating thoughts. Which, if believed and taken on only make things worse. In recovering from lows, we either move fluidly past the dismal thoughts or we have to work to skilfully reframe our thinking. We can learn to respond effectively to those thoughts, and correct them.
Through working with many people with depression I have learned the following things that can help:
- Counselling – talking about what is on your mind gets it out there, and a skilled therapist can assist you in reframing negative unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. Feelings of grief, shame, resentment and other depression catalysts can be worked through with a professional who recognises the pitfalls and supports you.
- EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques, sometimes called ‘tapping’ works to unblock the energy system which is often ‘scrambled’ in depression. I have seen EFT lift peoples moods right there and then and allow a new perspective on what seemed like an enormous problem.
- Exercise. Evidence suggests it may be as effective as an antidepressant medication, but without any side effects.
- Get outdoors, rain or shine, being out in nature is proven to be good for your mind as well as body.
- Plant something. Getting your hands in the earth is very grounding, bringing you back into the body.
- Spend time with animals; studies reveal that playing with a dog or cat can raise serotonin levels and dopamine which helps us feel better and also reduce blood pressure. Also playing or interacting with an animal gets you out of introspection (looking inside all the time) and focusing on something else.
- Surround yourself with beauty. Get some beautiful pictures of scenes you love, focus on them and what you like about them.
- Learn to notice the voice of depression and answer it back. The voice of depression says everything is bad, has always been bad, will always be bad. But how true is this? What evidence is there? Look at the things you have achieved in your life and the things you are grateful for and expand that focus gradually but persistently.
- Soak your feet in lovely scented water. Aromatherapy oils are ideal in their right quantities. It doesn’t have to be soaking your feet but anything nurturing to the self like this is a message of goodness to the self, doing something nice for you.
- Write out a schedule for the day, making sure it’s always achievable. You’ll soon know if you’re asking too much of yourself if a few days pass and you have never achieved all that’s on the list. Ticking off stuff you have managed to do gives you a sense of efficiency and empowerment.
- Make your living space a nice place to be. Get help with cleaning if you need to but make it a priority, so that you feel at ease in your own home.
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