The technical definition for depression refers to a negative affective state that ranges from unhappiness to despair that interferes with daily life. Along with these emotional feelings, depression also has physical manifestations such as lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and altered eating and sleeping habits.
However, depression transcends its simple definition. There are days where getting out of bed not only feels impossible but like something you do not want to do. It is isolating. Depression can change your perspective and attitude about life to the extent that you no longer feel like yourself.
Despite the struggle of battling depression, there are good days too–days where you can breathe easily.
Below are five daily habits that can help you stave off depression.
- Accept and Love Yourself
There are many tips on how to fight off depression. While routines and self-discipline certainly keep your focus away from negative thoughts, the surest way to keep yourself from falling into a depressive state is to love and accept yourself.
When you are depressed, I know it can be difficult to love yourself. Negative thoughts plague your mind making you feel unworthy and unloved. Sometimes, holding yourself to a high standard and not meeting it can make you feel discouraged. However, your worth is not dependant on what you achieve or what standards you have or have not met. On your journey towards recovery and self-care, you will fall and stumble. But, that is okay. It’s a process. Even if you do not see immediate results, continue going forward while learning how to love and accept yourself every step of the way.
- Speak to yourself as your younger self
Your inner critic is a good friend of depression. It is that voice that chastises you. It usually doesn’t have a reason to rebuke you, but it tends to catastrophize or exaggerate everything you. Listening to your inner critic can lower your self-esteem and self-worth. Eventually, it warps your sense of self, and you often feel like you are worse than who you are.
Whenever that inner critic rises to hurt you, think “would I speak this way to a beloved younger sibling/relative?” Speak positively to yourself. People who have depression usually try to hide their negative emotions with self-deprecating jokes (I’ve been there). Try not to because your mind won’t interpret it as a joke.
- Discipline and routine
Try to create and stick to a routine. Do not create an elaborate routine that will just exhaust you by the end of the day. Make sure that it is doable and that it fits you, your lifestyle, and your needs.
The benefit of discipline and routine is that they help you focus on other things rather than your emotions. It gives you something to do. Now, I am not saying that you should use your routine and chores as a way to not deal with your emotions. No. That’s never a good idea. The purpose of a routine is to help you accomplish things. When you accomplish things, you tend to feel better about yourself. Also, you tend to feel more self-confident.
- Be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself with kindness, whatever that means for you. The great thing about kindness is that it is a multiform gift. Some examples of being kind to yourself are eating healthy, cleaning your space, having a yoga practice, or having a spiritual practice. Essentially, it means looking out for yourself and making sure that you do not do things that you know will harm you.
The body you have is the place where your soul inhabits, so treat it with kindness. Take care of it.
I understand that when you are in a depressive state it is difficult to be anything to yourself, so it might take some effort. But it will be worth it. Also, you might experience a dose of dopamine and oxytocin every time you do something nice to yourself. If it is too difficult for you to be nice to yourself today, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just try to do better next tomorrow.
- Create awareness
Find a way to create awareness within your body. Self-awareness, both physical and mental, can be a great tool. It gives you the ability to understand your emotions. The mental and emotional symptoms of depression can sometimes manifest themselves physically. Hence, creating awareness will help expand your emotional dictionary and eventually help you regulate your emotions better.
Having a meditative practice or journaling can help you create self-awareness. If you ever feel the need for more assistance, please reach out to a therapist.
- Connect with others
Create time to intentionally be with others– whether it is family or friends. Set time apart to spend time with people, to talk and strengthen those necessary human bonds–not to stare at your phone.
Humans inherently need connection. It is how we are wired. Studies have shown that human connection reduces symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
The pandemic has made connecting with others more difficult, but try your best to reach out to someone. Call, text, email, video chat, send a pigeon, whatever, just reach out to trusted and beloved someone, especially if you are feeling depressed.
I hope these habits have helped you and that you can put them into practice. However, keep in mind, that these habits do not replace whatever current or possible treatment you may be working on with a therapist.
If you need help managing your depressive symptoms, please reach out to a medical health professional.
CMHA. (2019, October 17). The importance of human connection. CMHA National. https://cmha.ca/blogs/the-importance-of-human-connection.
Campbell, L., & Juby, B. (2021, June 6). Daily Routine for Depression: 10 Things to Try. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/depression/daily-routine-for-depression#meditating.
Gotter, A., & Legg, T. J. (2017, August 3). How to Avoid Depression: Prevent Relapse and Avoid Triggers. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-avoid-depression.
Mochizuki, H. (2020, October 21). daily habits that keep me from spiraling into a depression. YouTuber. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7Jo0_4RV5o.
Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2021, July 22). Coping with Depression. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/coping-with-depression.htm.