Tips for Dealing with Depression
Along with examining emotional and cognitive functioning, your behaviors also have a significant affect on depression and must be addressed to achieve a healthy, balanced life. Some areas to start examining include: your sleep habits, whether you exercise regularly, exposure to sunlight, regularly utilizing relaxation techniques, maintaining a healthy diet, and use of alcohol or drugs.
- Develop healthy sleep habits
- Maintain a regular bed and wake schedule
- Establish a routine that helps you relax prior to going to bed
- Create an environment that is conducive to sleep (dark, quiet, cool, comfortable, etc…)
- Use your bed only for sleep and relaxing activities.
- Develop healthy exercise habits
- Exercise now…and again. A 10 minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. The key to sustaining mood benefits is to exercise regularly!
- Choose activities that are moderately intense. Aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming have mental health benefits but you don’t need to sweat strenuously to see positive results.
- Pursue exercises that are continuous and rhythmic (rather than intermittent). Walking, swimming, dancing, stationery biking, and yoga are healthy choices.
- Be wary of competitive sports. For someone struggling with depression head-to-head competition can result in defeat and trigger more stress. Choose an activity that you enjoy and allows you to de-stress.
- Add a mind-body element. Activities such as yoga and tai chi rest your mind and increase your level of energy. If you don’t want to do these activities you can practice meditating while walking or swimming by repeating a mantra while you exercise.
- Start slowly, and don’t overdo it. More isn’t better. Overtraining can cause your mood to drop rather than improve. Injury is another risk if you push yourself too hard, too fast.
- Links have been made between some forms of depression and reduced levels of sunlight exposure. If you notice your depression worsening during the winter months spending more time outside when possible or exploring light therapy might be an option (contact your doctor or a counselor at UCS if you believe light therapy could help you).
- Nutrition can play a key role, in the onset, severity, and duration of depression. Spend some time learning about proper nutrition and evaluating your eating habits.
- Depression and alcohol or drug abuse can go hand and hand. If you are struggling with depression and relying on substances to cope you could be making your depression more severe and harder to treat.