Everyone gets down every now and then. E V E R Y O N E. Whether it’s due to a recent life event or just an unexplained funk—we all go through it. But in a society so fixated on appearing perfect, we don’t usually see this side of people. In many ways, we are doing ourselves a disservice by not being more transparent and honest with each other. It can make those who are struggling feel like there must be something wrong with them.
If you’re feeling depressed, the first thing you need to know is that it is both OK and normal to feel this way sometimes. It is part of our human existence to go through seasons in life. Wouldn’t it be great if we felt happy all the time?! Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Going through periods of feeling blue doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you, it simply means you’re human. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the tree.”
But just because it’s normal to feel depressed every now and then, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to deal with. It can be incredibly frustrating when you just don’t feel like yourself.
If you find yourself feeling depressed, here are some ways to cope:
We can make symptoms of depression worse by trying to deny the way we feel or becoming angry at ourselves for feeling a certain way. Acknowledge that this is how you are feeling RIGHT NOW, but it’s not how you will feel forever. If you give up trying to fight it and accept the way you feel, the symptoms of depression can actually improve.
Pay attention to your thoughts.
Are your thoughts contributing to your depressive state? Listen to your inner dialogue. Are you telling yourself things like you’re not good enough? Pay attention! If you notice that your thoughts tend to be self-destructive, start bringing awareness to them so that you can replace them with more positive, self-affirming thoughts.
A lot of times we can start to feel down if we are out of balance in life. Think about all the different pillars that create who you are: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and occupational. Are any of these areas being neglected? Are you getting enough sleep? Spending enough time socializing? Do you feel fulfilled by your occupation? Maybe you can start to pinpoint an area or two that need improvement.
Give yourself permission.
Do you ever find yourself thinking: “I have a great life, what right do I have to feel depressed?” These thoughts don’t help. Sure, it’s good to remember that there are terrible things happening in the world. But it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel down—even if you don’t have a “good reason.” So yes, get some perspective. But also give yourself permission to have an off-day (or week).
It’s hard to be depressed when you’re feeling grateful! Even on your lowest day, I bet you can find at least 5 things you’re thankful for. Start creating gratitude lists each morning before you start your day and I promise you’ll notice a shift in your overall mood.
Live in the moment.
Most people spend their time living in the past or the future. It’s a skill to be able to live in the present, and it takes practice. A good way to practice this skill is to use all your senses to experience each moment: pay attention to the sound, smell, sight, taste and touch of everything you do. This might be challenging at first, but keep practicing!
Talk about it.
Now that you know it’s only natural to get down sometimes, talk about it! Share what you’re feeling with family and friends or go see a counselor. When you no longer feel the weight of having to keep this secret inside of you, the relief can be almost immediate.
Here are a few things to look out for.
Sometimes symptoms of depression can signal something more severe is going on. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, it’s time to reach out for help (if you haven’t already):
- You’ve been in a depressed state nearly everyday for a period longer than two weeks.
- You’re having suicidal thoughts, or thinking about harming someone else.
- The depression is interfering with your ability to go to work or care for yourself/your family.
- You feel hopeless about the future.
Remember that it’s never too late to enlist the help of a mental health professional. Please reach out to me with any questions!