Many people struggle with feeling gloomy, down or even depressed from time to time. Sadness and feeling down is a normal part of the human condition. If we’re not careful though, what is a normal part of being human can turn into a more serious issue.
Fortunately, feeling down can be turned around if we start taking active steps to shift it. For those of you who struggle with depression, this is true for you as well. If you’re tired of feeling down and not liking yourself, your circumstances or your relationships, then take action to turn things around.
Below are several ways to actively intervene on depression, feeling down and/or not liking something in your life (or in you). Many of these suggestions, you have no doubt heard before, so instead of ignoring them, think to yourself that you’ve heard these a thousand times before…BECAUSE THEY WORK. When we get down, we think everyone’s full of crap and the things “they” tell us to do are stupid. If you’re struggling, tell that voice in your head to be quiet…and then just try these ideas. You have nothing to lose.
1. Tell the inner critic in you to shut up. You cannot feel better when you have a constant voice in your head telling you how much you suck, or how fat you are or how disgusting you are or on and on. Cut the negative self-talk, it is your WORST enemy. Tell it to shut up and refuse to give it airtime. Our inner critic’s goal is to keep us down. Don’t give it that power. When you hear your inner critic being abusive (yes our inner critics ARE verbally abusive), literally say, “Oh would you just shut up. I’m not interested in hearing from you today.” Say this every time and don’t give it a second thought.
2. Talk to yourself with compassion. When you make a mistake, don’t like how you look, etc., talk to yourself as you would talk to your best friend. You wouldn’t tell your best friend she looks terrible because she’s fat, ugly, disgusting, etc. You would say to not worry about a bad hair day—we all have them. If her boyfriend broke up with her, you would tell her that it’s his loss and she’s awesome. Practice talking to yourself as though you were your own best friend and leave the verbal abuse out of the equation.
3. Get active. Feeling down has a way of making us want to do nothing but wallow in our self-pity and depression. A key way to fight this is to get up and get out. Take a walk, run on the treadmill, play soccer, dance. Do anything that gets you up and around.
4. Be social. Do not isolate in your room or house when you are in a funk. Instead, go out with a friend or family member. Don’t feel bad asking a friend to hang out with you—that’s what friends and family are for. Choose one friend or family member you trust and talk with them about what’s going on. Allow them to help you through it.
5. Watch your thinking. Keep your thinking in the present and don’t start ruminating about how bad things are or will always be. When we’re in a funk our lens is skewed and we tend to start catastrophizing and go to the worst possible case scenario. Don’t allow yourself to go there. Stay in the present and remind yourself that this is a moment in time. Refuse to obsess over an issue/person/situation. Give it no more than a couple minutes of your attention and then move on. It will be there later for you to address—give your mind a rest.
6. Watch your actions. Do things that help you feel better, not worse. If you’re on social media, don’t broadcast your misery—you will feel more miserable. Try doing things that are more upbeat, talk more positively about yourself and others, get things done that need to get done and don’t allow yourself to be sucked into focusing only on your misery. Trust yourself that you are strong enough to get through this and then start taking active steps to pull yourself out of it. Do kind acts for others, listen to music, watch positive movies, not downers.
7. Seek help. If you’re not able to incorporate the above or you are able and you’re still feeling depressed, then seek help. Sometimes life throws us off chart and we need some help re-navigating our way back to nicer waters. Depression can be a powerful undercurrent and you may need to talk to a professional to help you find your way back. Depression can also have a biological component to it and in some cases medication should be explored. Be your best friend and do whatever you need to do to start feeling better. You deserve it—no matter what your inner critic says.
Depression can turn our lives into a heavy state of grey if we’re not careful. Take the time to take care of you no matter what it takes. Regardless of what your inner critic is saying to you, I’m telling you that you’re worth it. Watch your self-talk, do activities that help – not hurt — and watch your “stinkin’- thinkin”.
Challenge: Be kind to yourself every day. You were put on this planet for a reason and that was not a mistake. Know that you have the power within you to turn things around and don’t stop until you do. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.