If you’re wondering how to keep going through depression, these tips may help you push through today and tomorrow.
“Help me get through this day” is a common thought running through the minds of people living with depression every single day. Trust that you’re not the only one if you’ve ever had this thought.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects
Depression has a way of making us feel alone and, like others can’t connect to how we’re feeling, says Michele Goldman, psychologist and media adviser for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.
But the truth is that millions of people experience similar symptoms, meaning you’re never alone (even when it might seem that way).
Though you may feel hopeless sometimes, there are many reasons for you to keep living. And there are many things you can do to make your day even just a little bit brighter and easier to get through.
“Distraction techniques are great for short-term relief and to help get through an emotional crisis,” says Goldman.
Examples of helpful distractions to give your heart and mind a break include:
- conversations with others
- doing puzzles
- doing something artistic
- eating something you really enjoy
- watching movies
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, use your senses to reconnect with your body. “Grounding helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and worry, which can also happen when feeling depressed,” Goldman explains.
Here are some grounding exercises that can help:
- noticing colors around you
- naming things you can smell or see
- doing yoga
- taking deep breaths
She adds that walking on grass barefoot and feeling the ground beneath your feet can also help to slow or stop feeling numb, floaty, or disconnected, which can often happen with depression.
Try not to bottle up your feelings. You can get them out by:
- screaming into a pillow
- doing high intensity workouts
- letting yourself cry
- blowing up a balloon and popping it
- listening to loud music and dancing
“This is great to release energy that gets stored up in our bodies, alleviate the pressure of overwhelming emotions, and help provide a feeling of emotional reset or balancing,” says Goldman.
Self-love may seem unrealistic during a depressive episode. But being kind to yourself can go a long way to help you feel better.
Goldman recommends self-care practices like:
- getting a manicure or massage
- cleaning a portion of your home
- making your bed with fresh sheets
- taking a long bath or shower
- getting a haircut
- buying yourself a small treat
“There’s a strong mind-body connection, so if we feel good externally, we sometimes feel better internally,” she says. “You deserve to feel good in your body.”
Spend time with or reach out to loving, supportive, and uplifting people in your life.
“This reminds us that everyone has value, and we can find purpose and value in small things as well as large things,” says Goldman. “We see ourselves making a small difference, and this helps us to feel lighter, less alone, less in our heads, and puts our situation in perspective when we hear other people’s stories.”
Need ideas? She suggests:
- helping someone
- going to a spiritual or religious space
- joining a mental health support space
- doing random acts of kindness for others
This can also be anything that decreases isolation and increases connection with someone or something else, she adds.
Sleep, nutrition, substance, and hygiene. “These are the things that go when we’re depressed, and we fall into unhealthy habits,” Goldman explains.
She notes it’s important to return to the basics that will regulate your body and help to balance your emotions:
- avoid oversleeping or under-sleeping
- eat regular, balanced meals
- limit natural depressants (like alcohol)
- shower daily
- put on clean clothes
These skills become more challenging when you’re depressed but usually help us feel productive and accomplished, says Goldman. She suggests trying your best to maintain a set schedule.
“When we’re structured externally, we usually feel more balanced internally. When depressed, set realistic goals and organize what needs to be done.”
“Once we see our progress, we can feel a sense of accomplishment,” Goldman explains. “This fuels us to start feeling better, and then we can continue to achieve future goals.”
“Give yourself credit where credit is due, even with tasks that sometimes feel small or insignificant. When depressed, those tasks become very important,” she says.
She recommends breaking them down, asking for help, and doing stage one of the task for more overwhelming tasks. Then recognize (and celebrate) your growth.
Depressive episodes can feel gloomy and permanent. Remembering the positives might offer you a sense of hope.
Goldman says it might help to remember:
- a time when you were less depressed
- things you’re good at
- something you’re looking forward to
- the good people in your life
- a time when you laughed out loud at something
“Remembering the positives can help to relieve sadness, even if just for moments,” she adds. “It also helps us to remember that depression evolves, and the intensity that you feel in this moment won’t always be there.”
It’s OK to not be OK. Seeking support and asking for help when you need it can make a big difference. People and resources are available whenever you’re ready.
Consider finding support from any of these sources:
- therapists or mental health professionals
- support groups for people with depression
- your partner, friends, and family
- another trusted loved one who will let you vent without judgment
- depression hotlines
- Psych Central’s Depression Resource Hub
“Support comes in many different forms,” reminds Goldman. “Be open to what form of support is going to be best at this time.”
Depression can feel all-encompassing and make you question whether the sadness will ever end. But try to have hope that you’ll feel better again. In the meantime, try these tips that might help you find the motivation to get through the day. For more ideas, consider checking out our Activities for Depression slideshow.
If you need help managing your depressive episode, consider speaking with a therapist about how to get through and treat depression to find relief as soon as possible.