If you suffer from long-term or severe depression, with constant thoughts of death or dying, including ideas about suicide, seek professional help immediately. For occasional sadness and depression, here are some ways to lift the fog:
- EXERCISE. Depression is in many cases a result of a lifestyle of physical immobility. Studies have found that running or jogging for example, lifts depression. It has been theorised that depressed people who run notice new and real bodily sensations that distract them from preoccupations with minor but annoying physical symptoms of depression. In running, one has to think about breathing, have to notice the sky and the sun and the wind. One also has to let go of one’s thoughts. If you don’t like running or jogging, try skipping rope, bouncing a ball, house-cleaning, gardening or any other physical activity in which you can gradually build up your ability to move your body for 20-30 minutes.
- ADOPT GOOD POSTURE. Some experts believe that a bad posture can also cause depression. When people are depressed they assume a depressed posture — a slouching, tense, contracted pose. A person with chronically poor posture gets tired, starts having negative thoughts, and then gets depressed.
- ASSIGN A “DEPRESSION TIME” for yourself, for example: 7-8pm, when you allow yourself to feel as depressed as you really are. Whenever you feel the depressed mood coming on, remind yourself as to when you will let the depression have its time.
- AVOID SETTING DIFFICULT GOALS or taking on new responsibilities. Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what can be done, as it can be done. Do not expect too much from yourself too soon, as this will only accentuate feelings of failure. Similarly, try not to make major life decisions (such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced) when you’re depressed.
- RECOGNISE PATTERNS IN YOUR MOODS. Like many people with depression, the worst part of the day for you may be the morning. Try to arrange your schedule accordingly so that the demands are the least in the morning. For example, you may want to shift your meetings to midday or the afternoon.
- PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES that may make you feel better. Try exercising, going to a movie or ball game, or participating in religious or social activities. At a minimum, such activities may distract you from the way you feel and allow the day to pass more quickly.
- DON'T SPEND ALL DAY IN BED, no matter how tempted you are. While a change in the duration, quality and timing of sleep is a core feature of depression, a reversal in sleep cycle (such as sleeping during daytime hours and staying awake at night) can prolong recovery.
- DO NOT GET UPSET if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time. Do not feel crushed if after you start getting better, you find yourself backsliding. With depression, sometimes the road to recovery is like a roller coaster ride.
Find out more about mental health and well being in the CAP Guide, Emotional Fitness