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  • Writer's pictureJessicah Walker Herche, PhD, HSPP

Empower Yourself: Practical and Immediate Strategies for Managing Depression

Ahhhh depression. Such a sticky and dense emotional state. It’s like trying to walk through sludge. Everything is harder. Everything takes so much effort. Even making coffee in the morning feels like an impossible task.

 

Although depression impacts over 20 million adults in the United States each year, women experience depression almost two times more than men (1). About 1 in 10 women report symptoms suggestive of a major depressive episode (2) and 1 in 8 women who recently gave birth, experience symptoms of postpartum depression (3). Although a common mental health concern and even more so for women, depression is a serious condition that can be quite tricky to navigate.


Due to the nature of depression, there just is not enough motivation or energy or desire to DO anything, let alone do some things that might be helpful in shifting the emotional state. I get it. And, often the antidote (at least short-term) is to DO something.


Here are four things you can DO NOW to help ease that stuck depression.

 

The following suggestions are by no means a substitute for seeking medical care or mental health treatment for depression.


1. Go DO something.


Just as was previously mentioned, DOING something can help. In therapy terms, this is called behavioral activation. The idea behind this is by intentionally engaging in certain behaviors, we can turn on a positive emotional state, which then makes us more likely to keep doing those behaviors. Activity begets activity; inactivity begets inactivity. Even if the activity is going to the movies, go to the movies. Get out. Get up. Go do something fulfilling and healthy that makes you feel good. And watch how your brain starts to light up and come up with more ways to feel good.


2. Are you sad or tired?


The emotional state of sadness can sometimes be confused with the physiological state of tiredness. The wires get crossed and every time we are tired, we think we are actually sad. Check in with yourself. Most people need 8-9 hours of sleep a night, although some need more and some need less. When we are sleep deprived, pain hurts more. So even one night of inadequate sleep, drops our pain threshold. What amount of sleep do you need to feel well-rested? Are you getting restorative sleep – the type of sleep where your body has time to repair and heal from the waking hours of the day prior? Check out this post on sleep hygiene to learn more about how to boost restorative sleep.


3. Take a walk and notice all your senses.


Yes, I know it takes enormous willpower. Do it anyway. Walk as slow as you need to. But just go for a walk. While you are walking, notice your body walking and notice all your senses. The sun on your skin. The color of the leaves on the trees. The smell of the grass. The sound of the birds singing. Keep noticing what your senses are picking up on. This is called mindful walking, and the combination of mental exercise with physical exercise can help our mental health and improve our sense of wellbeing.


4. Drink water.


Emotion is energy and depression is stuck emotion (stuck energy). Drinking water helps to keep things moving in your system. Drink a glass of water every hour or two and every time you notice a particular stuck emotion during your day. Not all water is created equal, so look into spring water and mineral water. When you drink the water, notice what shifts within you.


It's important for you to also acknowledge this:


You can do all the internal work in the world, but...


If you are in a high stress job or a high conflict relationship or you are experiencing some other chronic stressor in your environment, you may need to examine changing your environment.


This may involve consideration of (1) pursuing a position with more manageable stress levels or with a company who espouses healthy leadership and team values or (2) seeking professional help to navigate relationship conflict. Being in a constant state of stress does not make you stronger and it does not make you more resilient. A constant state of stress is like torture to your system, eventually you break down.

 

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) or Text BEGIN to 88788.

 

Seeking Professional Help: If you are depressed and want to learn how to get unstuck, working with a therapist who knows how to guide you out of the muck can make all the difference. To schedule an appointment or gather more information, please call or text 317-747-0574 or visit our contact page today. 

 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional psychological care, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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