Ten Skills For Coping with Depression
1. Exercise. Something every list on dealing with depression suggests is exercise. Exercise, beyond being good for you, simply makes you feel better. It can be as simple as getting up and doing ten jumping jacks, taking a walk around the block or putting on a song and moving to the whole song. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I put on my Ipod and do figure eights with my hips through and entire song. It’s very easy and, in truth, sometimes I feel very silly doing it. But then feeling silly about it makes me laugh and the whole thing lifts my mood.
2. Smile. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Or don’t. Just smile. Fake it. It’s ok if it’s fake it still works. Smiling lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immune system and releases endorphins, natural painkillers and serotonin (whether or not it’s a real smile or a fake one).
3. Distract yourself. These are truly only short term answers for coping with depression, but if you aren’t clinically depressed,
- Watch TV or a movie – preferably a comedy but truly anything that involves you works.
- Read a book – ideally one with a story.
- Play a game – video games, card games, rubicks cubes
- You get the idea. Anything that distracts you from your depression is something that can help you cope in the short term.
Side note: While many people use alcohol, drugs, food, shopping or sex etc. to distract themselves from depression or the things that bother them, I’m absolutely not suggesting you do this. There are healthy distractions and unhealthy distractions. I’m talking about healthy distractions to be used briefly.
4. Talk to a friend. Speaking, emailing, or chatting online can help lighten your mood. Make sure you pick a person that will support you but talking with friends can often help help us cope with depression. It's always good to hear a supportive voice, get a different point of view and see things in a different way.
5. Go to a social event. When we are depressed it is sometimes the last thing that we want to do but when you get into a social situation it helps you stop thinking about whatever bothers you. When we focus on others instead of ourselves we often forget about what is bothering us. Sometimes being with others can help us feel needed and that often boosts our self-esteem.
6. Laugh. Just fake it and laugh for even a minute. This also keys into the silly factor. It will help change your perspective. Laughter is truly one of the best medicines in coping with depression.
5. Sing. You don’t have to be a good singer to enjoy this. Also, it changes your breathing and changing your breathing can help you get more oxygen, relax and this may help you feel better and cope with your depression.
6. Do Affirmations. People have differing opinions about this one. I know from experience coping with depression that affirmations can help you change the inner negative voice that is saying, “my life sucks” or “no matter what I do things never get any better”. If you say to yourself, over and over the opposite of what your negative voice is saying it does help even in the short term.
7. Play the "what if" game. Say to yourself, “what if I had a million dollars, what would I have and do with my life”. Let yourself really get into this. See and feel what you would want and what you would do. This exercise gets you out of thinking of your own life just as it is.
8. Use smell. Smell is one of the strongest senses we have to cope with depression and it keys directly into our emotional selves. The smell of grapefruit is very uplifting. Try it. Or if grapefruit is not your style or you don’t happen to have one or the essential oil laying around your house. Put on some perfume or cologne that you like or yes, use scented candles. Don’t underestimate the sense of smell – it can be very helpful.
9. Do some cleaning. Try vacuuming the living room, cleaning the kitchen or cleaning out a junk drawer. This one works along the lines of part distraction, part exercise and if using cleaning supplies, a kind of aromatherapy. Once done, you might feel a sense of accomplishment and if you don’t feel any better at least you’ll be depressed in a clean environment.
10. Engage your sense of touch. Take a hot bath. Give yourself a foot massage or engage in any kind of sensual pleasure that you enjoy. This can be very powerful when coping with depression. The point is to do something that makes you feel good. Focus on the physical and it can influence the emotion in positive ways.