*Before I start, I want to emphasize the fact the depression is very serious. While I have a degree in psychology, I am NOT a trained professional. If you feel like you need professional help, please seek professional help immediately! These tips are what helped me when I was experiencing depression. Just know that you are not alone, we are in this together! ❤
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Depression is an unexplainable thing. It’s extremely serious and a lot of people experience depression to a certain extent at some time in their lives. It can come at any time and affect people in different ways. While depression can be a very isolating feeling, I want everyone to know that you are very much not alone. It can be very difficult to understand that while you are going through feeling of depression, but I want anyone reading this to know that you don’t have to go through this alone.
Depression hit me hard and I was confused why I was feeling the way I was feeling because I truly have an amazing life. I was raised by the most amazing parents who gave me everything that I could have ever needed in my life growing up. I was always loved and truly had everything I needed to be happy. I have always been a naturally happy, cheerful, positive person. I have always loved that about myself and always wanted to spread as much happiness as possible. Which is why I wanted to pursue a career in psychology.
So, when I was feeling like I was slipping into depression, I honestly felt guilty and confused.
On paper, I had everything that I could have ever needed in my life. I had every reason to be happy. I knew there were so many people in the world dealing with much harder situations, so I truly felt guilty. I felt like I didn’t need to feel the way that I did. What I didn’t understand at the time is that anyone can experience depression. It doesn’t matter how blessed you feel like you are.
Depression isn’t just a “bad day” where you just “get over it” and move on. It’s not an emotion. Depression is serious and needs to be taken seriously. Most of the time, it takes some kind of therapy to dive deep into cognitive processes and treat the source as deemed necessary by a professional.
It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or you did anything wrong. However, I completely understand and resonate with people who tell themselves this on a daily basis. I know how serious depression is and how damaging it can be. While I experienced mild depression, I didn’t need to be put on an antidepressant, however some people do need to be.
There were some things that helped me & I want to take the time to write out the process I used to climb out of the depression. I hope that anyone reading this finds some hope that they will be able to make it through this and be able to experience at least some relief. ❤
1.I WENT TO THERAPY.
The absolute number one thing I want to mention first is I sought out professional help. I tried to do it on my own, but I eventually realized that it just wasn’t possible. So, I found a counselor in my network and I started going to therapy. To be honest, I never thought I would be someone who went to therapy. I always saw myself as someone being the therapist. I thought that if I went to therapy, that would mean that I didn’t have what it took to be a therapist, because I should be able to help myself if I’m going to help others. If that’s you at all, just know that’s absolutely not true!
I truly give credit to therapy for really jump starting my healing process. If I didn’t have the therapy, I don’t think I would have been able to get through it, to be honest. It is so incredibly helpful to have a safe space to talk about everything going on, to cry if you need to and to have someone there to help you through it all. Every time I went, I would leave feeling 10 pounds lighter than I did when I walked in. Trust me when I say that the first step is to seek professional help. Trying to get through it on your own is almost impossible. It’s OK to allow yourself to get help if you need it!
2. I STARTED TAKING SELF-CARE SERIOUSLY.
In addition to counseling, there’s definitely some inner work that needs to happen between sessions. One 1-hr session biweekly isn’t going to deliver results, because there’s work that you need to do on your own to. I remember things like struggling to sleep at night became nightly occurrence. I was sleeping an average of 3-4 hours per night and I was always exhausted.
In my first session with my therapist, she gave me several things to do to start taking care of myself better. Some things she told me to work on were: journaling, meditation, getting outside, exercising. The more I started started really focusing on myself and my self-care, the more I started noticing things falling into place. It was a hard journey, but definitely worth it in the end. Make sure you are really prioritizing your self-care! If you want some self-care ideas, make sure you check out my post on The Importance of Self-Care. ❤
3. I STARTED JOURNALING REGULARLY.
Journaled, and journaled some more! I know I’ve talked about this a lot, but I give a lot of credit to journaling for my progress. There’s just so many benefits that can come from journaling if you do it regularly. It can be a little weird to get started because you might not know what to talk about, but I promise if you keep at it, it will become a habit and you will start uncovering a lot going on in your subconscious! I wrote a blog post all about the transformative experience I’ve had with journaling and you can read all about it in The Power of Journaling.
4. I DOWNLOADED THE SANVELLO APP (PREVIOUSLY PACIFICA).
I’m actually surprised that I’ve never heard anyone other than my therapist talk about this app. I used this app religiously for 1-2 years while I was healing. I love it because there are guided meditations, journal prompts, you can rate how your day is going and so many other things. There is a free version, but you do have to pay to upgrade to use all of its features. I would pay for a month or 2 at a time while I felt like I needed extra help. You can easily downgrade the update the settings in the iTunes app.
I would highly recommend this app if you feel like you need some extra help!
5. MADE IT A GOAL TO GET OUTSIDE everyday.
When I was feeling depressed, I noticed that all I wanted to do was lay in my dark room and watch TV. That’s literally ALL that I wanted to do. When I got home from work, I would change into the comfiest clothes I owned, turned off the lights and climbed into bed. That’s where I stayed until I had to get up the next morning for work. It could have been the most beautiful day outside & all I wanted to do was lay in bed in my dark room. So, I started making it a goal to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. At least just sit outside on the patio, or even better, go for a walk. I just knew that I needed to get outside and get some fresh air.
What started as just sitting outside for a half hour, turned into actually getting some exercise. I started going on walks every morning when I got up. I would go for walks during the sunrise, take deep breaths and really take in the beauty of nature. I also started walking around during my lunch breaks at work. Just to get outside, walk around and debrief. Nature is truly powerful!
6. I STARTED EXERCISING AGAIN.
I have always been into exercising. I grew up an athlete and always enjoyed being in the gym. In a Behavioral Psychology class I took in college, I remember the professor asking us to write down one thing that would be a sign something was wrong if we stopped doing it. Something we are truly passionate about. For me, it was working out. So, when I found that I hadn’t gone to the gym in 2-3 months, I knew that I needed to slowly get back into it. Even if it just meant going on a walk in the evening. Just starting slow. Starting somewhere.
So, I started making it a goal to get to the gym a couple times a week after work. I slowly started making working out a priority again and started noticing myself feeling better about myself. You can read more about this in My Fitness Journey | Choosing Yourself First.
7. I started eating healthier.
Here’s the thing, I actually lost about 10 pounds while going through this. But, losing weight DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL HAPPINESS. Especially in this example because I was not making healthy choices. I wasn’t eating a lot and when I was, I was eating things like cliff bars for dinner. When I did eat, it wasn’t always the best food choices. Honestly, when you start fueling your body with nutritious foods, you start feeling so much better overall. Like everything, this takes a lot of time and patience.
I actually hired an online health coach that made a plan for me because I knew that I needed some help. While I completely understand that this isn’t always financially reasonable for some people, there are so many resources online to refer to in making some changes to diet. There are so many ways to make small changes throughout the day to keep damaging chemicals out of the body.
There’s just so much benefit to fueling your body with healthy, nutritious foods. Other than the known benefits to you physically, it can help with your mental health as well. Just simply changing my diet helped me start to feel better!
8. I started hanging out with friends.
I remember during this time, I wasn’t really motivated to go out and hang out with friends. I found myself wanting to just stay home and watch TV all day. While it was lonely, that’s what I preferred.
But, I noticed that when I did spend time outside of the house and interacting with my friends, that I actually started feeling better. So, I made it a goal to start making plans with my friends.
Even though you might feel exhausted and just want to lay around all day by yourself, just getting yourself out can make you start feeling better!
At the end of the day, it’s taken about 2-3 years of working on myself to get to where I am today. There is no magic solution to feeling better and loving yourself again, or maybe for the first time. You’re not going to wake up one day feeling amazing. There’s not going to be a magic feeling that you are ready to conquer the world.
However, starting with small goals will turn into HUGE accomplishments. The process will look different for everyone. But, I know there are a couple universal things that will help most people. Those things being:
- Getting professional help
- Getting outside
- Fueling the body with healthy, unprocessed food
- Getting yourself out of the house and spending time with friends
One other thing I recommend doing is tracking progress. For me, this is done by writing in my journal. I keep all of my journals and sometimes refer back to them. I find myself looking back at the same day a year or two prior, just to see all of the progress I’ve made over the years. Just when you feel like you haven’t made any progress, you will realize how far you have truly come.
You got this! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it! ❤