There’s no doubt that 2020 will not leave a single one of its hostages unaltered. We mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking we will exit this year the same people who naively sauntered into it on January 1st. But we cannot stop fighting. Fighting for survival. And not just the fight that involves face-masks and copious amounts of hand sanitizer, but rather, the fight for the survival of our minds.
If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, there is so much hope for recovery! Here are 10 things you can start doing today that will begin healing your mind and dissipate the looming fog of depression.
1. Look for support from people who make you feel safe, loved, and cared for. These are your people; cling to them. Tell them what you’re going through, or even just spend time in their company on a regular basis.
2. Make face-time a priority. In the current climate of affairs, ‘face-time’ is beginning to get a bad name. But face-time is your friend. Use FaceTime or download the Marco Polo app and have your loved ones do the same. If you can’t visit your friends or family right now, set up a meeting on Zoom instead!
3. Keep up with hobbies and daily activities. Especially when you don’t feel like doing them. Starting is the hardest part. Try the 2-minute-rule to hijack your brain. Tell yourself you’ll put on your shoes and walk outside for just 2 minutes. Or get out your color markers and color for just 2 minutes.
4. Find ways to support others. While seeking help for yourself is great, studies prove that helping others is actually even more beneficial for your chemical balance! Find a way to volunteer locally, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, or help a stray animal get placed with a loving family.
5. Spend time caring for your pets. Animals have the ability to look directly into our souls and bring the most incredible healing. Focus on playing with your dog, cuddling with your lizard, or petting your cat and just soak up all the love and joy you'll see in their eyes.
6. Do things that make you feel good. Take on a creative project to express yourself. Get out of your house and go for a walk in the crisp Autumn air! Take a relaxing hot bath with lots of bubbles or soaking salts. Take a day trip to the museum or somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore. The possibilities are endless!
7. Support your health. It’s important now more than ever that you take a conscious role in maintaining your health. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night (not more, not less). Eat depression combating foods. Drink lots of water and take your vitamins (gummy ones totally count).
8. Keep stress in check. Practice breathing or relaxation techniques to combat stressful moments and experiences.
9. Get sunlight every day. Sunlight increases your body’s serotonin levels which quickly boosts your mood! Aim to get at least 15 minutes every day.
10. Challenge negative thinking. If there is only one point you take away from this article, let it be this one. Be incredibly conscious about your self-talk. Take on the role of a lawyer, while your mind is the defendant; challenge every negative thing that your mind tells you. When you get a harsh thought about yourself: address it. Then stop and ask, “What is the evidence that this is a true statement?” “What are some examples that make this statement invalid?” You can even simply ask yourself, “Would I say this to a friend?” If the answer is no, throw that thought out of your mind forever.
In summary: when in doubt, talk it out! Never hesitate to call up a friend and talk about things when you are feeling down. Throw any negative thoughts that stop you from reaching for help right out the window/car-door/laundry-shoot/whatever-you-get-the-point.