When you're trying to tame depression, it sometimes helps to turn your attention inward. Even if you're already getting treatment with medicine and therapy, tending to your inner self can lift your spirit and help you better manage your feelings.
Everything from meditation to just plain having fun can be part of the plan. But remember, it's best to start small. Pick one thing that feels right for you and make a habit of it. Over time, it'll add up to bigger changes.
The idea behind mindfulness is that you put away the worry about the tense meeting you just had or looming deadlines. You don't stress or even dream about the future or the past. You're just right here, right now. You simply watch your thoughts and notice the feelings on your body, all without judgment.
It can be as basic as noticing the feel of your shirt against your skin, or the burst of flavor when you bite into your lunch.
Activities like meditation, yoga, and tai chi help you step back from the constant thoughts that run through your mind. That turns out to be a powerful way to change your outlook on life and gain more control over the ups and downs. Mindfulness works best when you set aside time to practice each day.
Watch the Negative Self-Talk
Depression has a way of making everything seem worse. That's when you really need to watch your inner voice.
You know the one. It calls you names after making a simple mistake. Always tells you what you should've done or should be doing now.
Here's the thing: Don't believe it. You aren't the voice in your head. When it starts lashing out, put it in its place. You might want to:
- Think about what you would say to a friend in this situation. Tell yourself that story instead.
- Ask your inner voice for proof. Is it right or just a cranky loudmouth?
- Try to reframe whatever triggered it. If someone just treated you poorly, it may not really be about you. Maybe they're under a lot of stress and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
From writing and painting to dancing and playing music, art gives you a different way to express what you're feeling.
It can be a healthy and safe outlet to work through some inner darkness. There's power in giving creative voice to your deepest feelings.
To really be healthy, your inner self needs some serious outer fun. It can't all be meditation and fine art. Do something that makes you laugh or that you normally take joy in.
It can be harder when you're depressed, so it's important to schedule it into your day. Stick with it even if it doesn't make you happy right now. If you keep at it, it'll lift you up in time.
You might want to get back to your hobbies. Or go places you love, like your favorite breakfast place. Maybe take a walk in the woods if being in nature brings you peace.
It might seem lofty, or maybe like a luxury for people who have plenty of time. But when your life lacks purpose, you might feel lost and like you don't have direction. And studies show that when you feel a strong sense of purpose, you tend to be more skilled at working through life's challenges.
For some, this comes from their spirituality. For others, it's in their work. If you don't know where to start, notice when you have a feeling of flow in your day, where you're just lost in something and time slips away. Write down when that happens. In time, your notes will be like little crumbs that guide you on your way.
Simplify Your Life
If your life feels jam-packed with work and home chores, it can be hard to remember you even have an inner self.
See if you can slow it down. Cut out what you can, especially when you're feeling low. Sometimes, you just need to tell yourself that it's OK to do less.
It might sound corny, but it works. When you focus on things you're grateful for, it lifts you up. It shifts your thoughts and helps you focus on the positive.
You might try a gratitude journal, where you write down something you're grateful for each day. You can also make a habit of writing thank-you notes. Or actually counting your blessings each night.
Call a Timeout
When you play sports, you take timeouts for good reason. Sometimes, you need a break to get a better handle on things.
So when you feel overwhelmed, don't be afraid to call one for yourself and do something relaxing. You might even want to build timeouts into your day.
Yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises are all good options. Maybe even a massage. A little relaxation can boost your mood and lower your stress.