Safeguard Your Mental Health: 5 Ways to Fend Off Depression

Prevent depressionDepression sounds like one of those things that you know a little bit about and you hear about a lot, but is really one of those things that happens to other people.  But it is very possible that you or someone you know can suffer from depression.  Depression can make your regular life very difficult to live.  You do not want eat or move or participate.  Depressions feels like it sucks the life out of you.  When depression is not treated, it effects how you think, behave, and feel.  It can lead to emotional, mental, and physical problems.

Some of the warning signs of depression include:

  • Pain or aching that does not get better
  • Crying more often than normal
  • Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities and life in general
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Sleeping either too much or not enough
  • Persistent sad feelings
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If there is a history of depression in your family or you have experienced some episodes of depression yourself, there are some things that you can do to safeguard your mental health.

1.  Get Help from a Counselor or a Doctor

Do not allow shame or guilt about your potential condition to hold you back.  If you feel that you have a problem with depression or you are worried that you may eventually have a problem, go see a doctor or a counselor.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  Every year, depression affects millions of people.  And it is treatable.  You have to be willing to take the personal risk and ask for help.

2.  Set up a Routine

Giving yourself a daily schedule to gain some control over your life.  It is up to you to make the schedule and stick to it.  Get up at the same time every day even if you do not have anything you have to do or anywhere you have to be.  Go to bed at the same time every night.  Keeping this schedule will give you some stability.  Keep this schedule until you feel like you are stuck and then make a change.

3.  Exercise

Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your mind and your body.  People are meant to move.  You do not have to join a gym to get some exercise.  Start slow.  Go for a walk around the block in the morning and the evening.  Borrow a friend’s dog or volunteer to walk a neighbor’s dog if that makes walking easier.  Yoga is also a very good option.  Join a studio or practice at home.  Regardless of how you want to exercise, simply get yourself moving.

4.  Try Some New Things

There are lots of adventures out in the world that you have never experienced.  And you do not necessarily have to go very far to experience some new situations.  Think about taking a class in something you think you would enjoy like photography or cooking.  Join a group that does a variety of different kinds of things like hiking, board games, music, and event attendance.  Go to an art museum or a concert.  Get out of your comfort zone.  The chemical makeup of your brain is changed when you do new things.  The levels of dopamine, the pleasure chemical of the brain, are altered by the new activity.

5.  Do More Positive Thinking

When you start to feel helpless or hopeless, think about what is making you feel that way.  Is someone else introducing these feelings?  Are you telling yourself that you are helpless and hopeless?  How do you know that these feelings are true, that you are helpless and hopeless?  If you feel yourself slipping into a depressive state, you may not be able to trust the feelings that you are having.  Start to question them.  When you think you are helpless, challenge that feeling.  Show yourself that you are not helpless, that you can do anything you put your mind to.  When you think you are hopeless, think about all of the ways that you can do good things and make a difference.  If you can make a difference, even a small difference, than there is reason to hope.  Find that small difference and change your thinking.