Don’t let the feelings you feel and thoughts you think overtake your well being. Easier said than done, right? In general, we have control over only so much. But the question is, how to not be depressed?
In life, you need to process things authentically but not get stuck in them. That means it’s okay to feel what you feel as long as you don’t stay there forever. That’s the goal of emotional regulation, but many people get stuck. They stay there in negative or difficult emotions. They can start to fall into a depression
Depression can feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You might even feel a heaviness in your chest. It can show up for people differently.
There’s high functioning depression where on the outside, you appear okay, but in reality, you are falling apart. And then there’s the debilitating depression where it’s hard to get out of bed. How not to be depressed may come up in your mind many times if you’ve been in this state.
The answer is that for everyone, it’s a little bit different. Overall, it’s sadness or even a numbness from emotional overload that simply won’t go away.
According to American Psychiatric Association,
“Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.”
For a formal diagnosis of depression, it must last at least two weeks.
But anyone can have depressed days. It can happen to people of all different lifestyles, backgrounds, attitudes and more. Attitude, in fact, has nothing to do with it. It’s not about the will power. It’s about resilience. You can’t just will yourself out of depression, but you can seek treatment and find ways to get through it.
Here are five ways on how to not be depressed:
1. Understand It’s Not Your Fault
Being “normal” or “perfect” is a myth. We all experience difficult times and difficult emotions. But when experiencing depression, one can feel isolated in their thoughts and feelings which if unchecked or untreated can lead to suicidal ideations. That’s why depression is so important to act upon rather than let linger.
Negative feelings will always come up. No one can walk around full of sunshine and happiness 24/7. We all get worn down. We all experience losses. We all need rest.
But when negative feelings overtake you, when you can’t face the real world because of the sadness or difficult emotions you are feeling, that’s when it can turn into depression.
We are a society that wants instant gratification. With that “fix it now mentality” we find it even harder to overcome our depression and find instead that we are masking our own feelings. It doesn’t just go away. There’s no quick fix on how to not be depressed, as much as we want there to be one.
There are many causes of depression and many misconceptions about it as well. Namely, people think it’s an attitude thing or ungratefulness towards life. But there are many factors like genetics, chemical imbalance, stress, loss, trauma and more. “Snapping out if it” is not always possible. Read this article to read more about other factors that affects depression: Why Do I Feel Depressed Every Once in a While for No Reason?
2. Self Care Instead of Spiral
It’s time to invest in yourself. Maybe you’ve been pouring it all into others, into your duties, your activities, your efforts for success. Maybe you’ve just kept going, white-knuckling as you go rather than processing to feel or think or simply be. That’s why scheduling self care in your life is so important.
When you’re feeling depressed, you also are feeling disconnected. Most of all, you’re feeling disconnected from yourself. You suffer in silence so the world will not judge you for it. But when you start to love yourself, you start to grow.
Self care can be many things. It can be walking the dog, taking a shower, writing in a journal, expressing yourself in any way or helping someone else in need can even be a way back to loving yourself.
Make a list of things you can do that are simple, that can help you how to not be depressed by connect with yourself when you feel detached, lonely, isolated and drained, the many symptoms of depression. This plan will help how to not be depressed and to adopt self care in the face of struggle rather than to spiral.
If you have to start somewhere, start in self love. That’s what self care is really all about. You are showing up to face the day because you love yourself. Because you matter. This doesn’t mean you have to face everything. You don’t have to figure it all out. You just have to meet yourself where you are and simply show up.
Put yourself first. Self advocate your needs whether it be with friends, family or a mental health/medical provider. This is where you need to stand tall the most because only you know what you’re going through. Only you know what it means to be you.
3. Know You’re Not Alone
What you’ll find when you practice self advocacy is that people actually want to help. Ask for help in these times. It doesn’t mean everyone is trained to handle your struggle, or that they can relate or that they are emotionally equipped to respond. But you can assess your needs and theirs and see if someone can simply be a support. You can also research support groups that may more appropriately fit your needs.
Reach out to a professional on how to not be depressed. You may be able to meet with someone who is trained in order to help you. They are meant to help you and are able to handle the emotional depth of what you are struggling with.
Someone who has high functioning depression may be harder to track for depression. But open conversations make it possible to figure out the signs that anyone could be experiencing. Speaking out about it may even deepen current relationships. It may lead to transparency and a renewal of a relationship.
If anything, talking to a trained professional or crisis line may help you navigate how to not be depressed the most. For example, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
When you feel it is on the verge of taking over, come up with a crisis plan and contacts in preventative measures. In advance, come up with a list of people you trust or someone who could even take you to the Emergency Room if you are starting to spiral to suicidal ideations.
Write down a list of signs and symptoms you have experienced when feeling depressed, to help communicate this to others. Rate your mood on a scale of one to ten on a daily basis to gauge what you are feeling generally. This will help you communicate to a doctor the level of severity you are experiencing depression and help you navigate whether it is a crisis.
4. Get Proactive Rather Than Reactive
Reactivity is when you act on impulses and over identify with your emotional state. Alternatively, you may be acting productive to cover the painful emotions and thoughts to detach, but that is not the same thing as being proactive. Being proactive means you process things better and decide to be positive despite the negative experience. That’s because of the mindset you choose.
Become solution oriented. Become gratitude driven. Become someone who focuses on the good.
Use what is happening for something greater than yourself, whether it be a project, a personal connection or a new path that you can find purpose in. You don’t have to necessarily “fix it” overnight. But you can use it.
Create something that brings light into your darkness. Tell someone you love them. Do a small act of kindness. Figure out what your needs are and seek to meet them. Learn to listen to the silence and meditate rather than avoid it. Be present, be mindful in actions taken. When you are doing simple acts such as cleaning, take deep breaths and meditate. In any activity, you can become mindful. You can become awake.
Become purposeful in what you think about. Think about what you look forward to tomorrow. And be kind to yourself while you’re at it. Trust your instincts. Know that you are good, you are worthy. Depression does not have to define you. Nothing that happens to you defines you. What defines you is your character, your attitude, your will, the way you treat others. When you understand that, you can move forward.
5. Honor Your Truth
There is something sacred about sharing and honoring your story. Bring light to the darkness by speaking up. Your voice matters. Being here matters. Putting it out there relieves you of shame and removes the influence of stigma from your self discovery journey. It is here that we can truly find ourselves at peace: Acceptance.
Cheryl Strayed says,
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
You are not stuck here. This isn’t the end, this just the beginning. While it’s good to accept your feelings as valid, it’s also important to recognize when they may be misleading you. You can use your situation to shed light on mental health issues and use it to connect yourself to others too who may need your insights.
Kevin Hines struggles with bipolar disorder, and he found a way how to not be depressed and use his story of a suicide attempt to spread awareness of mental illness. He also advocates for changes in the mental health system and strategies we use.
You can rise again too. Today isn’t your last day. Reach out. Ask for help. Do good so you can feel good. And let yourself be seen. You can still feel fulfilled and appreciate life when experiencing a difficult time. The step on how to not be depressed takes courage. That is what will pull you through. That is what resilience looks like.
How to not be depressed is not about repression or masking one’s feelings. It’s about processing your reality in such a way that you can cope with it. It starts with self love and acceptance.
The worst thing you can do when depressed is judge yourself for it. You are human. You are going to feel. When those feelings take over, you need help. It’s not your fault. If depression doesn’t pass, it’s time to reach out for help. The work on yourself how to not be depressed is lifelong and should be a profound and powerful process.
You are brave, you are a survivor, you are worth saving. Hold space for yourself and others with feelings that are difficult. As you would just listen and not judge someone else, do this for yourself. Then, you find that the days get lighter and the life you had returns to you.
Honor your feelings, but do not detach from life. It is worth it to stay. It is worth it to be here. It is worth it to know you in this life, so stay.
Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com