More people have reported being anxious and depressed right now than any other time in history. Today, there is more space and acceptance for people to ask for help to deal with the challenges that come with mild to severe mental illnesses. Treatment can range from prescribed medication to multiple therapy options. With the support of family, friends and mental health counsellors, many people are successful in overcoming their struggles. However, the main responsibility of dealing with the illness falls upon the individual, and treatment options scaffold these efforts. Self-care is just as important as medication when it comes to recovery, and there are many simple ways a person can help themselves through a difficult time. Below are some ways you can care for yourself on the road to recovery:
Social Connection (Reaching out to people around you can help increase social support)
It’s often tempting to lock yourself up in a dark room and stay away from people when you feel terrible inside. However, wallowing is never a good option because it only makes you feel worse in the end. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness can be prominent in depression, and can make you feel you’re a burden when you try to connect with people around you. Talk to your therapist about these feelings if they hinder you too much, but always make the effort to reach out. Even something as simple as a text message can make you feel more connected to people.
Routine (A routine can keep you productive and efficient)
Sticking to a known routine can make things easier to deal with. A known routine organises your life for you, and can help you be productive without putting too much pressure. It can be difficult to find the motivation to do something when you feel depressed, and having a set routine can take away the pressure to plan something to do for the day. Doing something familiar everyday can help increase your efficiency and can help you instil a good work ethic for the future.
Gratitude (Practicing gratitude can have a powerful effect against depression)
Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to overcome depression. Counting your blessings can remind you of the good things in your life and elevate your mood. A lot of people might feel like they have nothing to be thankful for, and this resignation can be a part of the depressive episode, but even being thankful for a sunny day can get you started. It can feel difficult to find reasons at first, but as we continue to practice gratitude, we become more aware of the wonderful things in our lives. Being grateful becomes a habit as we continue to do it, and has a positive impact on the quality of our lives.
Exercise (Exercise keeps our mind and body healthy)
Exercise has been proven to over the effects of depression and anxiety. Not only does exercise release endorphins that can reduce the perception of pain in our body, but it also releases neurotransmitters that boost our mood. The physical activity also reduces our mental and physical stress, and keeps our body fit and healthy. Most people who exercise also report higher self esteem and better confidence about their abilities.
Nature (Studies have shown that nature has a positive impact on our mental health)
Taking part in activities that involve nature, such as hiking, trekking or visiting a park, can help reduce the effects of depression. When we feel depressed, our body produces lower levels of serotonin, and the sunlight exposure when we are outside produces more serotonin in our body. Moreover, being out in nature can help us reflect on our lives in peace, and give us perspective about how we live. A study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy found that people who live amidst nature have a lower risk of developing depression throughout their life. Another study by Shanahan et al found that being in nature for 30 minutes can reduce the prevalence of depression by 9%.
Mindfulness (Mindfulness has a significant effect in treating depression and anxiety)
Thinking about the future or the past too much can lead to depression and anxiety. For example, if someone is haunted by an experience of the past that triggered the depression, or being scared that the future will never work in their favour can start and maintain feelings of depression. Mindfulness teaches you to remain in the present moment, and numerous studies have shown its significance in treating depression and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation has shown to physically change the brain to reduce stress and negative emotions while promoting a sense of peace and calm.