Depression is a debilitating mental illness that can even be life-threatening, but it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of your life. Recovery from depression is possible with time, therapy, and medication. But it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits that can make overcoming depression that much harder. Let’s take a look at some of the bad habits that can make your depression symptoms seem insurmountable — and what you can do about them.
Spend Too Much Time Lounging Around
Depression can sap your energy and make it hard to get off the couch and head to the gym. But not exercising doesn’t do you any favors, either. Exercise releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that boost your mood and ease feelings of pain. Research shows that regular exercise has psychological benefits, and can even effectively treat feelings of mild to moderate depression.
You don’t need to work yourself to the point of exhaustion to feel the benefits of exercise for depression. Thirty to 40 minutes of mild to moderate exercise, like walking or yoga, three or more days a week can help keep depression at bay, especially when combined with an antidepressant like Abilify.
Ignore Your Terrible Posture
It might seem like it shouldn’t matter, but your posture can have a profound effect on the way you feel about yourself and the world. Your body language is deeply linked to your state of mind, and researchers have found that your posture can even affect your hormone levels. Standing up straight makes you more likely to have positive thoughts and form positive memories, makes you more confident, and can boost your mood.
Don’t Take Omega-3s
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help ward off depression by supporting brain health. Your brain needs omega-3s to maintain tissue health and prevent the inflammation that researchers now believe is linked to depression. But many Americans don’t eat enough of the foods richest in these fatty acids, like fatty fish and wild game. If changing your diet isn’t possible, consider taking a 1,000 mg daily dose of EPA.
Don’t Get Out Enough
Even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder, a lack of natural sunlight can lead to decreased serotonin production and trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. Exposure to sunlight also helps keep your circadian rhythms balanced. Even during the winter, try to get outside as much as you can.
Everyone puts off things that bore them or things they simply don’t feel inclined to do right away. That kind of procrastination may not always be helpful, but it’s not likely to make you more depressed. However, avoiding distasteful tasks that make you anxious will only increase your anxiety in the end. If you’re facing a task that fills you with dread, first do something to manage your stress, like exercising or listening to some music. Then take on the nerve-wracking chore.
Don’t Laugh at Yourself
People who take themselves too seriously tend to berate themselves when they make a mistake or do something embarrassing, like falling in front of friends. Learning to laugh at yourself and at the world around you is one of the best ways to avoid harmful rumination and improve your mental health. Spend time reading funny books or watching funny films or TV programs. Grab lunch with your wittiest friend. Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine.
Toss and Turn All Night
Depression can make it hard to get to sleep, but not getting enough sleep can worsen depression symptoms and make you feel irritable, tense, and emotionally fragile. Not sleeping enough can also make it hard to get the exercise you need to cope with depression symptoms. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night and if you can’t sleep despite practicing good sleep hygiene, talk to a doctor.
Don’t Spend Enough Quality Time with Others
Many people with depression stop doing the things they enjoy and withdraw from social contact, sometimes to the point that they don’t even want to leave the house. It’s important to continue spending meaningful time with friends and loved ones — make time to connect face-to-face with someone in your social circle at least once a week.
Don’t Take Any “Me Time”
While this might seem to contradict the previous point, it’s just as important to take time for yourself to de-stress, especially if you’re feeling pressured to meet many demands from your family, job, and other activities. Schedule time to decompress as often as you can, preferably every day.
Don’t Seek Professional Help
Many people with depression symptoms don’t see a doctor because they suffer from the misconception that depression is a character flaw or something they can “tough out” or “snap out of.” Don’t believe it. Getting help from a psychiatrist and counselor can help you put together the right treatment plan for you, so you can start feeling like yourself again.
Depression is a serious medical condition, but with treatment, recovery is possible. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression symptoms, see a doctor and form a treatment plan right away. The consequences of not treating depression could be deadly.