The feelings of shame and guilt that plagues a person with depression often prevents them from seeking help, or reaching out to others for support. Depression makes every day task; such as calling the dentist, taking a shower or returning a phone call, appear to be unachievable and require too much energy. If you are someone who struggles with depression, this blog post is for you. Here are 5 tips to help you manage your depressive symptoms.
- Set Realistic Goals: overcoming the challenges of depression and learning to manage your symptoms is a process. It is important to set realistic goals based on where you are in the process. Set goals for each week, and make sure to set yourself up for success. Do not set a goal you know you will not achieve before you even write it down. It is also important for you to start small. Here are some examples: do the dishes for 10 minutes, respond to one text message or take a walk around the block. Starting small will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help you be successful.
- Celebrate Small Successes: no success is a small success; especially when it comes to depressions, however, people are prone to measuring successes based on their significance. Every small step you accomplish should be celebrated and recognized because big achievements are made of hundreds of smaller ones.
- Think in Units of Energy, not Units of Time: one of the most debilitating symptoms of depression is fatigue/low energy. Therefore, it is important for a person with depression to shift their mindset from thinking in units of time, to thinking in units of energy. Mental energy can be spent in the same way that physical energy can be; it must be replenished and not overlooked. I often hear from clients with depression ‘I should be able to do something for more than five minutes; it is not that hard.’ This is a troublesome for several reasons. For one, this statement invalidates that person’s experiences and triggers feelings of shame. Additionally, this statement is lacking consideration of the amount of energy that will be spent in those 5 minutes. The amount of mental energy required for a person with depression to do the dishes for 5 minutes, is the physical equivalent of an unathletic person running 2 miles.
- Positive Self-Talk: a person with depression often struggles with the ability to recognize personal strengths, abilities and positive attributes. Practicing some positive self-talk helps the brain shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. Every day, name 1-3 positives things about yourself: things I did well today, things I like about myself or something good that happened to me today.
- Express Gratitude: expressing gratitude is another way to begin to increase self-awareness of positive aspects in a person’s day to day life. At the end of the day, name 1-3 things that you are grateful for specific to that day. This will help you intentionally attend to the positives during your day.
I hope you find this blog post helpful in managing your depressive symptoms and beginning the therapeutic process. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, know you are not alone and there is help available.