This time of year, a lot of people aren’t feeling particularly great. The evenings are getting lighter but for a lot of us, winter still isn’t over – and there’s no Christmas to look forward to! Valentine’s Day can be a tough time of year if you’re single and you don’t want to be, and most of us have already left our New Year’s resolutions that were supposed to improve our lives by the wayside. If you think you might be suffering from depression, it’s time to do something about it. You might think that having depression means wanting to kill yourself and crying all the time – and if you feel that way, absolutely get medical advice immediately. But it can also mean feeling numb and unproductive, and not finding pleasure in anything. If you think you might be suffering from mental health problems, read on for some practical tips that might help.
See Your Doctor
First and foremost, see your doctor and tell them exactly how you’re feeling. If you’re worried that you might not express yourself correctly, write a list before you go and hand it over. Be honest and completely open about how you feel and remember that you shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed – the doctor’s there to help you.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Medication
Remember that if you’re prescribed medication, you should take it. Taking medication for depression doesn’t make you weak. If you had other medical issues like allergies or a thyroid problem then you’d take medication to help with them, right? So anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication can help you feel a lot better if you make sure you take them at the same time every day – why not set an alarm to remind yourself? You might be afraid that your medication will have side effects, and in all honesty you may feel a little dizzy and sick to start off with – but it’s important that you continue to take them. If you still feel ill a week after you start the medication, go back to your doctor.
Do Your Research
Although you might start to feel a little worried and panicky if you read up too much about mental health, it’s important to be aware of what you’re facing. Research symptoms of bipolar disorder or how to treat anxiety or what exactly cognitive behavioural therapy is. You’ll find stories about all sorts of people who have suffered in similar ways to you – and things that they did to help themselves.
If you can, it’s important to try to eat as healthily as you can. If you eat too much sugar then it can affect your mood when the sugar crash hits you – and any weight gain from eating the wrong foods might not help your mental health. Try to cook your food from fresh – and if cooking is proving to be a little out of your reach at the moment, you don’t have to make anything too fancy. Egg or chicken sandwiches alongside a handful of bagged salad, some cherry tomatoes and some carrot sticks is a perfectly nutritious dinner.
Unfortunately, you still need to try to keep fit if you’re suffering from depression or other mental health problems. The best way to do that is through yoga, which will help you find spiritual as well as physical health. A lot of people name yoga as a complete cure for depression and this is obviously not true – but it can help. Check out Yoga With Adriene for some simple routines to start with.
Never underestimate what a little fresh air can do for your spirits. Wrap up warm and go for a walk around the block or to your nearest local beauty spot for a short hike. You could even borrow a friend’s dog so that you have a friendly furry little companion to go with you! You might dread it before you go but you’ll definitely feel happier once you’re home.
One thing that will help you more than almost anything else is to be clean. Do your hardest to have a shower when you wake up every morning. You might not feel up to putting on makeup or brushing your hair, but being clean and smelling good will make you feel so much better about yourself. Turn the shower on and wait until it’s the perfect temperature to step in, put your towel on the radiator for afterwards, and invest in good quality toiletries to tempt yourself to have a wash.
Talk To Your Boss
Make sure that your boss is aware of any mental health problems that you have. If you need to take time off to go to therapy appointments or if you’re exhausted so you can’t work late any more, you need to make sure that your company is informed so that you can work together to create a supportive environment for you.
See Your Friends
One of the strange things about depression is that sometimes the concept of seeing your friends and loved ones can feel absolutely unbearable – but it’s important to make sure that you see your favourite people in the world. Even if you feel awful, you’ll be happy that you’re maintaining your connections with them – and there are ways that you can make sure that you don’t exhaust yourself. Don’t drink too much alcohol, let yourself leave and go home if you feel overwhelmed, and keep your meetings close to your house so it doesn’t seem like too much of an overpowering prospect. Coffee ten minutes away with one friend seems much more bearable than travelling for an hour to spend a whole day with a group of people.
If your friends and family offer you help, please don’t think that you need to be ‘strong’ and soldier on alone. They might not know what to say to you in case they say the wrong thing, but you could make a small list of tasks that other people could help you with if they offer their time and energy. Your laundry, ironing, meal preparation, childcare and rides to various appointments are all practical ways that you can get your loved ones to help you out.
Don’t Blame Your Illness
When you’re suffering from an illness like depression it can be very hard to regulate your moods and to see things rationally and logically, but it’s important that you do your best not to treat your loved ones badly. It’s terrible and confusing to feel mentally awful and you might be tempted to lash out to make other people feel as bad as you do – but take a deep breath and disengage from any situations that are making you feel that way.
Start a new creative skill, preferably one that you’ve never done before. If you’ve never painted, start sloshing some paints around, and if you’ve never really baked before it’s time to start looking up the best chocolate cake recipes. Develop a new skill instead of beating yourself up about perfecting the skills you already have – and you’ll be delighted when you produce something new and beautiful.
Be Kind To Yourself
Remember that it’s okay to set yourself limits and stick to them. If you find yourself getting exhausted by social interaction, don’t make yourself go out and see friends more than a couple of times a week. Remember that it’s good to take time for yourself and to do your best to pamper yourself when you can in little ways. Wear soft, comfortable clothes when you’re at home, and curl up under blankets when you’re watching TV. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to breathe.