Dealing With Depression: How To Beat The Blues

This previous Monday was 'Blue Monday'– hailed as the most depressing day of the year. January is often renowned as being the most miserable month, and tends to be the time in which most people are feeling at their lowest. If you suffer from depression or feel that you may be heading that way, this period of the year can be dangerous. Protect your mental health by trying out some of these proven pick-me-ups and go into 2017 feeling rejuvenated.

Be Social
An all too common reaction to depression is to withdraw into oneself and wallow in one’s depressed feelings. No matter if you’re a natural introvert or an extrovert, socialisation is important for keeping your mind healthy and happy. Of course, it’s important to mix with the right people and not people that make you feel pressured and more stressed. If you have no friends that you feel you can talk to, try arranging social events with family. If family is a problem, try joining a club or even simply going down to your favourite shop and engaging in conversation with someone about a topic that’s dear to you – you’ll feel much better for it.

Staying active can boost your mood. The worst things you can do is sit in your house all day. If you haven’t exercised in a while, try walking for 20 minutes a day. Explore parts of your neighbourhood that you’re unfamiliar with to give you a goal. There are other types of simple exercise that you can take up such as cycling, swimming and weights. Make sure that it’s an activity you enjoy and create an objective that you hope to achieve – this will get you focused and motivated.

Don’t Turn to Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant and therefore enhances any depressive feelings you may have. If you’re turning to it more than usual or have noticed more depressed feelings since you upped your consumption, it’s best to knock it on the head. Save drinking for one day a week as a special treat – or pick a month to go cold turkey as a challenge. 

Change Up Your Diet
Depression can also greatly affect the way you eat. Some will eat less and risk starving themselves and becoming underweight. Others will find comfort in food and eat more. Fix your food intake by changing up your diet. Plan out meals across the week that you can look forward to that are healthy for you. If you are concerned by your weight, you should talk to your GP or look into food therapists who can give you specific advice based on your current health conditions and goals. Note that anti-depressants can also affect your appetite. One of the most common initial symptoms of taking anti-depressants is a loss of appetite, whilst usage over a long time can increase your appetite.

Keep a Routine
People get down when they don’t have plans because they feel like there’s nothing keeping them going. This can cause people to adopt unusual sleeping patterns and live each day to the next without any purpose. Start by structuring each day, so that you get up at a certain time and eat at certain times. If work does not permit this, structure your week out around your rota (if your rota changes from week to week, structure the week out every time you get your new rota). Of course, a routine can also drive some people into a greater depression if they are doing the same thing week-in week-out. This is why it’s important to also have goals (as previously discussed with exercise and diet and alcohol and socialising). Always have an event to look forward to on the horizon, whether it’s something big like a holiday, or a simple day out somewhere. You can also set personal goals to make routines more exciting. This could be something as simple as trying a new food every week or beating the amount of steps you walk each week with a step measuring app. You can meanwhile spice up boring routine tasks such as washing up and ironing by listening to new music, or exercising as you work, or watching a new film or TV programme.

Take a Break From Work
If work is dragging you down, take a break and give your mind some time to recuperate. Tell your boss and recommend a health assessments service for employees – this will determine whether you are fit to work and help provide a rehabilitation programme if not. A break from work can allow you to do many things. You may simply need time to sort out home stresses in your life. Alternatively, your work life may be the problem, in which case you should use a break to find a new job. Don’t let money dictate your decision – make sure you are entitled to holiday pay or sick pay depending on how you wish to spend your absence. Seek charities if you fear you won’t be able to pay the bills.

Seek Professional Help
Sometimes it’s worth seeking help from a professional – more people do it than they’d like to admit. A counsellor or therapist may be able to help you wish coping strategies or even be useful just by being an ear to talk to. Try out different therapy methods – if one doesn’t work, move onto the next. There are hundreds of different therapy techniques, so find the one that’s suitable for you. If you’ve been self-harming or thinking about self-harming you should definitely consult someone.

Know You’re Not Alone
Depression can feel very lonely. Perhaps one of the most important things to recognise when combating depression is there are thousands if not millions of people out there also suffering depression – you are not alone. Of course, every person is going through their own unique struggles, but you shouldn’t feel that you are imperfect and that your depression should therefore be something to be ashamed of. View it as an illness and work on curing it.