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Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Depression

It’s been estimated that nearly 350 million people in the world suffer from depression and almost 80% don’t receive any treatment – that’s a lot of people dealing with depression on their own. It’s a belittling misconception that people who suffer from depression are just feeling sad or are mentally weak. New research has found that depression is actually a kind of brain damage which backs up the fact that it’s not something people can just cure or ‘get over’. Dealing with depression means dealing with a constant cycle of sadness and hopelessness and it can feel never-ending. It can leave you with a lack of drive and energy to take the necessary larger steps you need to make yourself feel better.

There are smaller and more manageable steps you can do on a daily basis that can help you self-manage your depression – they are by no means an attempt at a cure but they can help alleviate the feelings of despair and darkness that seem to take over so easily. It’s important to acknowledge that you may be suffering from depression and taking some steps towards a lighter path will help with your overall outlook on life.

Acknowledging Your Depression

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    The first step is to recognise that you are suffering from depression. Admitting that you’re suffering from depression does not make you a weak person; in fact it’s the opposite. Acknowledging that you may have depression will allow you to attempt ways to deal with it whether with professional help or through self-management.

    • Accept The Depression In Your Life

    Accepting that you have depression will allow you to be able to do something about it. Hiding it away or putting it down to a bad phase in your life will only allow it to spiral out of control. Having depression is not something to be ashamed of and the sooner you realise this and admit that you may have it, the sooner you can deal with it.

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    • Understand That You Can Help Yourself

    It’s important to establish that your actions will help you with your depression. You don’t have to allow things to happen to you – you have the power to control what happens to you. Although this can feel hard to imagine at times, there’s great power in your steps to help yourself.

    • Every Little Step Helps

    Depression can leave you feeling helpless and worthless. Thinking of actions to help yourself can seem overwhelming but it’s not big, grand actions that you need to make happen. Breaking actions down into small daily steps can seem less less daunting and greatly relieve symptoms of depression plus they don’t always need a lot of time or effort to achieve. Keep that belief that every little step is helping you in a positive way.

    Establishing An Exercise Routine To Deal With Depression

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      When you suffer from depression you can find it hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed let alone think about exercising but exercise is crucial for helping you deal with depression. Exercise has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medication as it increases energy levels and decreases tiredness. Studies have shown that exercise protects the brain from depression so it can help prevent further depression from developing. It doesn’t have to be a hard, sweaty workout but just getting out and moving will really help with your mindset and perspective. Releasing those endorphins can do much more than we realise – they reduce stress and tension so have an all-round positive effect on depression.

      • Go For A Walk

      A really simple and effective way to deal with depression is to take a walk. If you find it difficult to find motivation for an exercise routine then walking is a great way to fit this into your daily life. Getting out in nature can have a healing affect and breathing the fresh air will have a big impact on our brain’s oxygen levels allowing you to have clearer thoughts. If you have a dog or can borrow a dog from someone else this will be a great incentive to walk and for longer.

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      • Cardiovascular Exercise

      This is something you can build up to. Establishing a walking routine is a great place to start and once you think you’re feeling the benefits you can decide if doing more cardiovascular exercises is something you want to pursue. Running, cycling and swimming are great exercises to get into but it’s important to find one that you enjoy and will want to stick with. Establishing a routine and setting goals will help with motivation and train your brain to see hope and achievement.

      • Small Movements

      If walking and running seem too much of a step for you then just finding moments to move around are beneficial. Park your car further away so you have to walk for a little bit, take the stairs instead of the elevator – anything that prevents you from being still for too often. Getting your body moving, no matter how small, is good for your mind and you will find that it will help you to feel a little less low.

      Establishing A Healthy Diet To Deal With Depression

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        What you eat has a big effect on how you feel. Establishing a healthy diet can help relieve symptoms of depression and together with exercise can combat your depression greatly. Eating the right foods can boost your mood and help you feel less tired and depleted. When you have no motivation it can be easy to reach for the convenient, junk-filled foods but these can be a hinderance to your depression as it has little nutritional value and causes further unnecessary fatigue.

        • Cut Back On Sugar And Carbohydrates

        Sugar and carbohydrates are common foods to reach for when we need comfort. Cakes, biscuits and breads are full of refined sugar and carbohydrates which can leave us feeling lethargic which can add to other symptoms of depression. It can also lead to a crash in mood as our blood-sugar levels drop dramatically.

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        • Superfoods And Vitamins

        There are certain foods that help with boosting our mood including bananas, nuts, omega-rich fish, brown rice and spinach as well as many more. Complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain foods can boost serotonin levels without the crash that we get with simple carbohydrates. Considering taking extra vitamins and supplements including complex B-vitamins and folic acid will be beneficial. Vitamin B deficiency in particular can trigger depression or alternatively you can eat foods rich in vitamin B like eggs, green leafy vegetables and chicken.

        • Eat At Regular Intervals

        It’s really important that you keep fuelling your body. Going for too long without food can cause irritability and low blood sugar levels which can cause mood swings. Make sure you try to eat a healthy meal or snack every 3-4 hours. It can be tempting to reach for the junk food but try to make a conscious decision to pick something healthy and beneficial.

        Managing Your Negative Thinking

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          Depression ultimately changes the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It can darken thoughts about the past, present situations and the future. The key to managing negative thoughts is not to just think positively and they’ll go away but rather to gradually introduce a different way of thinking that will encourage a slightly different mindset.

          • Recognising Negative Thinking

          The first important thing to do is recognise your negative thoughts. There are different types of negative thoughts that can foster depression and recognising them is a great first step in starting to combat them. Thoughts such as emotional reasoning where you believe your negative thoughts are reality, for example believing you’re worthless. Overgeneralising is something that people with depression often do – holding on to a negative experience and believing it will continue to be like that. Self-blaming, jumping to negative conclusions by false assumption and ignoring positive events are all different types of thinking prone to someone with depression.

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          • Avoiding Isolation

          When we’re depressed we have a tendency to want to withdraw and be alone but isolation from others is more likely to create negative thinking because we are further separating ourselves from reality. Connection with others is a basic human need and studies have shown just how important social interaction is when it comes to our happiness. Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to cultivate relationships with family and friends – they will be your support network. Just finding someone to trust and talk to every now and then will help stop the tendency to withdraw.

          • Shifting Your Perspective

          Shifting your perspective is not changing your thoughts from sad to happy, it’s allowing yourself to see something in a different light. It’s about thinking outside of yourself. When we’re hard on ourselves it becomes a way of thinking but try asking yourself would I say something so harsh to someone else? Changing your perspective is about learning a different way to see things and getting your mind to realise that there are other sides to a problem. It’s about cultivating gratitude for the small things that we have whether that’s food, hot water etc. There are many ways to change our perspective that can help fight off those negative thoughts. Trying to gently shift your mindset will help you on your journey to managing your depression.

          Featured photo credit: De Visu via shutterstock.com

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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