Each of us is going to go through difficult moments in life. Whether it’s the death of a loved one or an ugly breakup, the hardships that we sometimes face can have a significant impact on our overall sense of well-being.
But even though most of us are resilient enough to withstand whatever life throws down our path, there are times when we are simply overpowered by the emotional pain resulting from a profoundly traumatic event.
And that’s when depression creeps in, generating a sense of powerlessness and futility that throws you down a spiral of doubt and idleness. Long story short, living with depression can be extremely debilitating.
Fortunately, aside from traditional approaches like depression counselling and medication, there are plenty of other strategies that you can use to overcome this emotional problem.
Why is it challenging to overcome depression?
Despite the numerous strategies for depression that clinicians and researchers have developed over the years, people still find it quite difficult to manage and overcome this condition.
It’s hard to look at the bright side of things and engage in pleasant activities when all you want to do is sit in bed feeling overwhelmed.
And the main reason why sometimes it seems impossible to break this cycle is what experts call ‘the vicious cycle of depression.’
Whenever you’re dealing with a depressive episode, the first changes that you notice is a sudden drop in motivation and a tendency to isolate yourself from the world. As a result, your overall productivity drops to an all-time low, and you begin to spend more and more time ruminating.
When your mind is constantly preoccupied with thoughts like “I’m a complete failure,” “My life is a mess,” “No matter what I do, I always fail,” “I don’t deserve to be happy,” your day-to-day life feels empty and pointless.
Sadly, zero activities mean zero results and that will only deepen depression and reinforce the beliefs that are keeping you stuck.
Although it might sound difficult, the only way out of this vicious circle is by adding small tasks to your everyday routine. Nothing challenging or tantalising – just small, manageable tasks that give you a sense of satisfaction and a reason to believe that you’re not a complete failure and you do deserve to be happy.
Let’s look at a few fun activities that can help you ease depression and regain your ‘thirst’ for life.
#1 Write about it
Whenever we’re dealing with depression, our first instinct might be to ‘close up.’ In other words, we reject any friend or relative who offers to lend an empathetic ear, thinking they may not understand what we’re going through.
On top of that, some are afraid that once they ‘open up’ about their emotional struggles, people might criticise, judge, or offer unsolicited advice.
Since keeping everything ‘bottled up’ inside is a guaranteed way to aggravate depression, perhaps writing could be a viable alternative.
Putting your doubts, worries, and sorrows on paper can be a therapeutic gesture that symbolises your attempt to ‘let out’ the negativity that depression has brought into your life. And there are numerous ways to use writing as a strategy against depression.
For example, you can personify your depression, write short stories about it, or even create a journal where you write down your negative thoughts and challenge them.
#2 Take up a hobby
As I mentioned earlier, the key to breaking the vicious circle of depression is getting involved in rewarding activities. That way, you prove to yourself that you’re not as useless and incapable as depression wants you to believe.
A hobby is a great way to challenge your negative thinking because it gives you something exciting and captivating to do. That way, you avoid thinking about negative thoughts.
You can either think about a hobby you used to enjoy or simply look for a new and exciting one — anything but sitting in bed all day or wasting your time binge-watching sitcoms.
Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with depression taking up a new activity might prove a bit challenging considering that you’re probably running low on motivation.
That’s why it’s important to take baby steps. Instead of striving to finish an entire puzzle in one day, you can start with twenty pieces a day or whichever number you find comfortable.
#3 Go to a yoga class
In recent years, experts have been looking into alternative treatments for depression. Although nothing can replace ‘traditional’ treatments such as psychotherapy, numerous complementary strategies can significantly improve the quality of life for people who struggle with this condition.
And one good example is yoga. By combining breathing techniques with physical activity, yoga can help you achieve a state of physical and emotional well-being.
In fact, many researchers believe yoga is among the best alternative treatments for depression. A recent study revealed that an 8-week yoga intervention could have a positive effect on mild-to-moderate depression.
Since you’re probably looking for a new hobby/activity, perhaps yoga can be the ideal choice.
#4 Get a pet
Since depression tends to push you towards loneliness and isolation, a pet might prove to be the ideal companion. Pets such as cats and dogs tend to be sensitive to changes in your overall mood, making them a wonderful source of comfort.
Studies suggest that having a pet can enhance the effects of antidepressants, even in the case of major depressive disorder.
But aside from providing comfort, pets also give you a good reason to get out of the house more often. And that’s a big ‘must’ for people with depression.
However, if you think a pet might be too much responsibility right now, perhaps you can start with a plant.
#5 Plan a vacation
Although a vacation might seem like a far-fetched dream right now, it doesn’t hurt to at least think about a destination.
Depression tends to ‘negate’ our dreams and turn the future into a grim landscape where all that’s waiting for us is sadness and disappointment.
Since it would be almost impossible for me (or anyone else) to convince you that everything’s going to be ok, perhaps you should be the one painting a brighter future.
Start planning your dream vacation and who knows, maybe one day you’ll finally reach that destination.