Here are some basics I found useful when I was suffering from my depression. I know I wrote about it in my last blog post, but here I wanted to share with some of the things I tried. For me it was all about trial and error, but the most useful for me was learning to be kind to myself. Learning and understanding that I AM allowed to feel low and depressed but I HAVE to put a time limit it and try and move forward. I have to deafen myself to my negative and self deprecating thoughts, my negative voice needs to be shut down before it takes hold of me.
I am not going to pretend it is easy, because it isn’t; believe me over a decade later I am still in recovery.
1. Be kind to yourself. There is nothing wrong with feeling low. Nothing can prepare you for the shock of a newborn, no matter much you love him/her. Allow yourself to have these feelings and don’t beat yourself up about how you feel.
2. Physical Exercise Even if all this means is taking yourself out into the garden and walking around in the sunlight, alone or with your newborn. You can start with a slow stop and build up to a faster pace. However, just a little fresh air can get the endorphins flowing, but just try to exercise in daylight because the VIT D sunlight will help too. Also, alongside lifting your mood, regular exercise offers other health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease, cancer and boosting self-esteem.
3. Social Support When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate. Even reaching out to close family members and friends can be tough. Compound that with the feelings of shame and the guilt you may feel at neglecting your relationships.But social support is absolutely essential to depression recovery. Staying connected to other people and the outside world will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.
4. Time Heals Accept that your current mental state and that it is not entirely balanced. In the depths of depression, we tend to see the negatives in everything and find it harder to be balanced about what is going on. You must take the time to gently remind yourself that you are tuned into the ‘negativity channel’ and don’t listen to your thinking. It is definitely distorted when you are depressed. This idea alone can provide some comfort when the world appears bleak. It won’t last forever.
5. Challenge negative thinking Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remind yourself that this is the depression talking. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. Just telling yourself to “think positive” won’t cut it. Often, they’re part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it.
Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression
All-or-nothing thinking – Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”)
Overgeneralisation – Generalising from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I can’t do anything right.”)
The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
Diminishing the positive – Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”)
Jumping to conclusions – Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead end job forever.”)
Emotional reasoning – Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. I really am no good!”)
‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ – Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules.
Labelling – Labelling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)
6. Seek Professional Help. If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better!