Have you been feeling low? How do you know if you are depressed? Depression can look different for everyone and can be hard to know when it’s time to take action. You may be reading this and thinking “if only it were that easy” or “it’s not a step-by-step solution”. You are not wrong. Getting out of a depression funk can be difficult. It is important to take it one step at a time and celebrate the small wins along the way. Feeling hopeless is a common symptom of depression and this alone is one of the biggest barriers to getting back on your feet and taking action.
Some common indicators of depression in children and adults are weight gain or loss, low energy, disruption in sleep patterns, appetite changes, feeling cloudy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and isolation. Additional thoughts of dying and death or suicidal thoughts can be a more severe symptom of depression.
If you or a loved one identify with any of these symptoms, here are some helpful tools:
- Practice self-care; Self-care looks different for everyone. Do not judge or compare your self-care to others. Find something that makes you happy and add it to your routine. This could be puzzles, walking, reading, podcast, baths, skin care, meditation, exercise, or maybe even some trashy tv. Do what makes YOU happy.
- Prioritize self and needs: It is okay to prioritize yourself over others. This does not make you selfish. You can’t care and show up for loved ones without caring for yourself.
- Practice healthy sleep hygiene; try to incorporate a sleep routine. Limit caffeine intake or set time for last caffeinated beverage, limit screen time before bed, and turn down lights and temperature in the home.
- Exercise: the body holds on to a lot of emotions, moving your body can release and express emotions and stimulate natural hormones that improve mood.
- Reset expectations of what exercises can look like. Set small attainable goals. Instead of “going to the gym” make it a goal to “move your body”.
- Diet: practice eating healthy foods, when you give your body nutrients and eat healthy your mental health will also improve.
- Limit/decrease alcohol use: Alcohol is a depressant and slows down your nervous system
- Get outside: Nature provides us with fresh oxygen which triggers our brain to breathe more deeply, resetting our nervous system.
- Practice mindfulness tools: get out of your head and into the moment. Practice checking in with your five senses. What are you hearing? Feeling? Seeing? Smelling? Tasting?
- Tell loved ones; ask for support. Having someone check in on you is a great way to let people know you are struggling and to have them hold you accountable.
Are you needing more? Sometimes, these tools are not enough. If you or a friend are experiencing suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at (833)-626-4244 or dial/text 988, a new national hotline.