6 everyday ways to help us cope with depression
Beating depression is a long-term process, but each big project contains smaller steps. These tips to help us cope with depression can be used together with therapy, medication and other treatment.
Beating depression is a big and continual process. It can involve medication, therapy, asking for help, long-term work that can feel incredibly challenging even though the final aim is a very important one. That is, your journey towards mental health. Are there smaller things you can try in the meantime? Dealing with depression is like building a dry stone wall – sure, you need the big rocks, but the wall’s more likely to weather any storms if you can fill in the cracks with smaller pebbles too.
Each big project consists of smaller steps. All the day-to-day stuff of dealing with mental illness (or living with depression in general) can feel like a challenge – and a drain on your energy reserves that you could do without. These suggestions for everyday ways of coping with depression may help, and you can use them in conjunction with professional treatment. Whether you’re in therapy/treatment or not, it may help to know you’re doing stuff on your own, too.
Therapy, medication, learning coping techniques for anxiety, working closely with professionals… these are big rocks. But ‘little’ things like getting out of bed and getting dressed, having a shower… That stuff can be hard, sometimes. But when you do it, it’s awesome.
6 everyday ways to help cope with depression
Remember you’re not alone. Other people have depression too, or have had it, or will have it. The world isn’t just full of blissful happies. You are not alone.
Creativity can help with depression. It can channel your thoughts and energy into something positive – that’s why art therapy is a thing. You can try keeping a daily journal (and no, it doesn’t matter if you skip days for whatever reason). You can pick up a pen or pencil and start colouring, doodling, making comics or working on whatever kind of art you like. You can play a few notes on any instruments you might have to hand. No obligation to craft a masterpiece. Just a few notes, and see where it takes you. Here are some art exercises to explore, if you like.
You may or may not have a difficult relationship with eating, but nutrients help your body to help your mind, so aim for regular meals made from healthy stuff if you can. Oh, and cooking is a form of creativity too.
Immersion in nature can help. Activating your senses through interaction with nature (sight, smell, touch, hearing, maybe not taste unless you 100% know what those wild berries and mushrooms are) can help you shift your perception away from stuck-record thoughts and into the world. A shift in perception can feel like such a relief – it may be temporary, but it’s still important. If you’re an indoors kind of person, or perhaps agoraphobic – or, you know, you just happen to be inside a building right now – consider your view from where you’re most likely to be sitting or spending time. Is there a window? Can you see out of it? Can you see plants where you are? Can you see nature? Can you see things going on in the world outside? If you don’t feel ready to be a part of the outside stuff happening, it can still help to see it’s there and know that you are, in fact, very much a part of it. You’re participating in a way you can work with at the moment. Small steps, big steps. If you can take a walk, that can help. Plus you’ll get the endorphins going from that physical activity…
Consider doing some self-grooming or putting on clothes that make you feel better for whatever reason. This isn’t some hard and fast rule, of course. Lack of pampering doesn’t have to mean self-neglect. It can help to dress in a way that makes you feel readier to cope with the outside world, but on some days only a zebra onesie will do, and on others you might feel like you really need to wear the baggy bits and bobs you wore the day before, and that’s OK too.
If you think negative things about yourself or second-guess what other people might be thinking about you, take a step back. That sense of lack of worth – it’s depression putting ideas in your head. One way to work with negative spirals of thinking is to step back and be aware of it happening. From there, you can remind yourself that depression is the cause.
Are you able to pet a pet today? As well as official emotional support animals (like service dogs), an animal can provide fantastic emotional support simply by virtue of being there. Animals can be so very good at being there, giving you that wonderful connection. And sometimes they have fluffy ears to stroke.
Little methods of self-care like this can play a major part in helping you deal with depression. They can top up your energy reserves, give you that glimpse of good feels, and might even help you spot when you’re in a downward spiral and potentially take next steps keep it at bay.
Created with thanks to original creator R. Robertson and the insights of the Mookychick community.
Useful resources for depression
- Download R. Robertson’s 21 tips on keeping it together during depression – this article is indebted to Robertson’s original work.
- List of international helplines
- NHS Choices – medical professional advice on stress, anxiety and depression