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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

5 Ways to Help You Get Through Depression

5 Ways to Help You Get Through Depression

Don’t let the feelings you feel and thoughts you think overtake your well being. Easier said than done, right? In general, we have control over only so much. But the question is, how to not be depressed?

In life, you need to process things authentically but not get stuck in them. That means it’s okay to feel what you feel as long as you don’t stay there forever. That’s the goal of emotional regulation, but many people get stuck. They stay there in negative or difficult emotions. They can start to fall into a depression

Depression can feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You might even feel a heaviness in your chest. It can show up for people differently.

There’s high functioning depression where on the outside, you appear okay, but in reality, you are falling apart. And then there’s the debilitating depression where it’s hard to get out of bed. How not to be depressed may come up in your mind many times if you’ve been in this state.

The answer is that for everyone, it’s a little bit different. Overall, it’s sadness or even a numbness from emotional overload that simply won’t go away.

According to American Psychiatric Association,[1]

“Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.”

For a formal diagnosis of depression, it must last at least two weeks.

But anyone can have depressed days. It can happen to people of all different lifestyles, backgrounds, attitudes and more. Attitude, in fact, has nothing to do with it. It’s not about the will power. It’s about resilience. You can’t just will yourself out of depression, but you can seek treatment and find ways to get through it.

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Here are five ways on how to not be depressed:

1. Understand It’s Not Your Fault

Being “normal” or “perfect” is a myth. We all experience difficult times and difficult emotions. But when experiencing depression, one can feel isolated in their thoughts and feelings which if unchecked or untreated can lead to suicidal ideations. That’s why depression is so important to act upon rather than let linger.

Negative feelings will always come up. No one can walk around full of sunshine and happiness 24/7. We all get worn down. We all experience losses. We all need rest.

But when negative feelings overtake you, when you can’t face the real world because of the sadness or difficult emotions you are feeling, that’s when it can turn into depression.

We are a society that wants instant gratification. With that “fix it now mentality” we find it even harder to overcome our depression and find instead that we are masking our own feelings. It doesn’t just go away. There’s no quick fix on how to not be depressed, as much as we want there to be one.

There are many causes of depression and many misconceptions about it as well. Namely, people think it’s an attitude thing or ungratefulness towards life. But there are many factors like genetics, chemical imbalance, stress, loss, trauma and more. “Snapping out if it” is not always possible. Read this article to read more about other factors that affects depression: Why Do I Feel Depressed Every Once in a While for No Reason?

2. Self Care Instead of Spiral

It’s time to invest in yourself. Maybe you’ve been pouring it all into others, into your duties, your activities, your efforts for success. Maybe you’ve just kept going, white-knuckling as you go rather than processing to feel or think or simply be. That’s why scheduling self care in your life is so important.

When you’re feeling depressed, you also are feeling disconnected. Most of all, you’re feeling disconnected from yourself. You suffer in silence so the world will not judge you for it. But when you start to love yourself, you start to grow.

Self care can be many things. It can be walking the dog, taking a shower, writing in a journal, expressing yourself in any way or helping someone else in need can even be a way back to loving yourself.

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Make a list of things you can do that are simple, that can help you how to not be depressed by connect with yourself when you feel detached, lonely, isolated and drained, the many symptoms of depression. This plan will help how to not be depressed and to adopt self care in the face of struggle rather than to spiral.

If you have to start somewhere, start in self love. That’s what self care is really all about. You are showing up to face the day because you love yourself. Because you matter. This doesn’t mean you have to face everything. You don’t have to figure it all out. You just have to meet yourself where you are and simply show up.

Put yourself first. Self advocate your needs whether it be with friends, family or a mental health/medical provider. This is where you need to stand tall the most because only you know what you’re going through. Only you know what it means to be you.

3. Know You’re Not Alone

What you’ll find when you practice self advocacy is that people actually want to help. Ask for help in these times. It doesn’t mean everyone is trained to handle your struggle, or that they can relate or that they are emotionally equipped to respond. But you can assess your needs and theirs and see if someone can simply be a support. You can also research support groups that may more appropriately fit your needs.

Reach out to a professional on how to not be depressed. You may be able to meet with someone who is trained in order to help you. They are meant to help you and are able to handle the emotional depth of what you are struggling with.

Someone who has high functioning depression may be harder to track for depression. But open conversations make it possible to figure out the signs that anyone could be experiencing. Speaking out about it may even deepen current relationships. It may lead to transparency and a renewal of a relationship.

If anything, talking to a trained professional or crisis line may help you navigate how to not be depressed the most. For example, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

When you feel it is on the verge of taking over, come up with a crisis plan and contacts in preventative measures. In advance, come up with a list of people you trust or someone who could even take you to the Emergency Room if you are starting to spiral to suicidal ideations.

Write down a list of signs and symptoms you have experienced when feeling depressed, to help communicate this to others. Rate your mood on a scale of one to ten on a daily basis to gauge what you are feeling generally. This will help you communicate to a doctor the level of severity you are experiencing depression and help you navigate whether it is a crisis.[2]

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4. Get Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Reactivity is when you act on impulses and over identify with your emotional state. Alternatively, you may be acting productive to cover the painful emotions and thoughts to detach, but that is not the same thing as being proactive. Being proactive means you process things better and decide to be positive despite the negative experience. That’s because of the mindset you choose.

Become solution oriented. Become gratitude driven. Become someone who focuses on the good.

Use what is happening for something greater than yourself, whether it be a project, a personal connection or a new path that you can find purpose in. You don’t have to necessarily “fix it” overnight. But you can use it.

Create something that brings light into your darkness. Tell someone you love them. Do a small act of kindness. Figure out what your needs are and seek to meet them. Learn to listen to the silence and meditate rather than avoid it. Be present, be mindful in actions taken. When you are doing simple acts such as cleaning, take deep breaths and meditate. In any activity, you can become mindful. You can become awake.

Become purposeful in what you think about. Think about what you look forward to tomorrow. And be kind to yourself while you’re at it. Trust your instincts. Know that you are good, you are worthy. Depression does not have to define you. Nothing that happens to you defines you. What defines you is your character, your attitude, your will, the way you treat others. When you understand that, you can move forward.

5. Honor Your Truth

There is something sacred about sharing and honoring your story. Bring light to the darkness by speaking up. Your voice matters. Being here matters. Putting it out there relieves you of shame and removes the influence of stigma from your self discovery journey. It is here that we can truly find ourselves at peace: Acceptance.

Cheryl Strayed says,[3]

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

You are not stuck here. This isn’t the end, this just the beginning. While it’s good to accept your feelings as valid, it’s also important to recognize when they may be misleading you. You can use your situation to shed light on mental health issues and use it to connect yourself to others too who may need your insights.

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Kevin Hines struggles with bipolar disorder, and he found a way how to not be depressed and use his story of a suicide attempt to spread awareness of mental illness. He also advocates for changes in the mental health system and strategies we use.[4]

You can rise again too. Today isn’t your last day. Reach out. Ask for help. Do good so you can feel good. And let yourself be seen. You can still feel fulfilled and appreciate life when experiencing a difficult time. The step on how to not be depressed takes courage. That is what will pull you through. That is what resilience looks like.

Final Thoughts

How to not be depressed is not about repression or masking one’s feelings. It’s about processing your reality in such a way that you can cope with it. It starts with self love and acceptance.

The worst thing you can do when depressed is judge yourself for it. You are human. You are going to feel. When those feelings take over, you need help. It’s not your fault. If depression doesn’t pass, it’s time to reach out for help. The work on yourself how to not be depressed is lifelong and should be a profound and powerful process.

You are brave, you are a survivor, you are worth saving. Hold space for yourself and others with feelings that are difficult. As you would just listen and not judge someone else, do this for yourself. Then, you find that the days get lighter and the life you had returns to you.

Honor your feelings, but do not detach from life. It is worth it to stay. It is worth it to be here. It is worth it to know you in this life, so stay.

Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

You may be wondering how to clear your mind. Maybe you are facing a tough presentation at work and really need to focus, or perhaps you’ve got a lot going on at home and just need to relax for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, having a clear mind can help you find your center.

The only problem is that you can’t completely erase the thousands of thoughts you have each day. The goal is to be able to observe those thoughts without engaging with each one of them.

The good news is that clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. A path to better mental health and overall quality of life starts here.

What Happens When You’re Not Present?

We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction, whether it’s in your relationship, career, or goals.

The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion and can’t reduce stress in the short or long-term. The result of this is burnout.[1] It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast.

The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working.

On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more.

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These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warning you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.

As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. 

To help you deal with this, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment to see where you may be off balance. Then, you can check out the points below to keep moving in the right direction.

How Do We Come Back to the Present?

Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice.

To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present.[2] Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.

Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice.

For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered.

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This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind and say to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on.

It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.

How to Clear Your Mind

Now that you’ve acknowledged where you are and how you feel, you can take action and learn ways to clear your mind. You can take a few moments away from your desk or to-do list, and practice something to ground yourself back into the present moment.

1. Take a Walk

Grounding yourself can be as simple as taking a walk and admiring the changing of the leaves. This practice is also known as “forest bathing,” and it doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a forest. It can be in your favorite park or even walking around your town or neighborhood.

Bring your attention to the senses as you enjoy your walk. Can you tune in to the sounds of your footsteps on the earth? Can you notice the smells and take in the sights around you while staying present in the moment? Can you touch a leaf or the bark of a tree and allow the texture to teach you something new?

Such a practice does wonders in clearing your mind and bringing you back to the now. It also connects you more deeply to your environment.

2. Box Breathing

As you’re learning how to clear your mind, a mind-clearing practice may look like sitting down and going through a nourishing meditation or breath practice. Breathing is, honestly, the easiest and best way to clear your mind. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out and feeling and noticing the breath will bring you right back to the present moment.[3]

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In yoga, we call this breath Same Vrti, meaning a 1:1 breath ratio. It can also be translated as “box breathing.” The idea is to make the length of your inhales and exhales the same, as this allows you to take in more oxygen and slow down the chatter of the monkey mind. It also kicks on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion, offering many health benefits in the long run.

This will allow your heart rate to slow down so that you can reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. It also aids in digestion, as the metabolism is back on track, and helps you physically process food and drink properly.

3. Add Meditation

how to meditate and clear your mind is also helpful when you want to clear negative thoughts and relieve stress. In fact, following your breath is a meditation in itself. Adding a visual, like imagining gentle ripples on a lake or clouds passing along a beautiful blue sky, can give the mind something to attach to without running through the train of your thoughts.

On the other hand, if you are mentally overwhelmed and meditation sounds like more stress, tuning in to a guided meditation session can be alleviating. It often helps to hear the voice of a teacher or guide who can walk you into more peace and contentment with their words and energy. If you can’t find such a guide in a local studio, turn to the many meditation apps on your phone, or YouTube.

4. Write Your Thoughts

Alternatively, another powerful practice for when you’re learning how to clear your mind is sitting down and writing out all of the thoughts in your head. We call this a “brain dump,” and it is an effective method for simply releasing your thoughts so that you can mentally breathe and process things better.

Grab a piece of paper and write out all of the thoughts that are pressing for your attention. The idea is not to analyze the thoughts or fix them, but to give those thoughts an exit so that you can move on with your day without fixating on them aggressively. This can look like a laundry list of thoughts, or a diary entry.

Afterward, feel free to close your journal or rip up the paper as part of your stress management. You don’t need to hold on to what you wrote, but it does help to see the expression of what you’re holding on to mentally. Likewise, this practice is very potent to do at night before bedtime. So many of us struggle to sleep soundly with many thoughts bouncing back and forth, and this exercise before bed can allow us to enter a deeper level of rest.

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Regardless of what you do, understand that practicing mindfulness is a lifelong process. With life’s ups and downs, it’s stressful to attach yourself to the practice of being mindful and in the present moment because it’s never guaranteed that you will be present for 100% of your life.

In this practice, what matters more than anything is intention. Our intention of staying present and sticking to our mindfulness practice is what will encourage us to keep coming back to it, even when we forget.

Final Thoughts

With the thousands of thoughts that we have in our head each day, it can sound overwhelming to even tackle this and try to learn how to clear your mind. The technique, however, is powerful, simple, and effective.

It all comes down to first recognizing and acknowledging that we are overwhelmed, stressed, or far away from the present moment. That acknowledgment acts as a wake-up alarm, inviting us to examine our state of mind and take action.

In this way, not only are we clearing our minds in a manner that works for us, but we’re also building our self-awareness, which is a beautiful and powerful way of being in the world.

More Tips on How to Clear Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Elijah Hiett via unsplash.com

Reference

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