At some point in our lives, most of us suffer a bout of depression. Depression is an umbrella label for a wide spectrum of feelings. While psychiatrists and psychologists have a variety of terms to describe what kind of depression one is experiencing, the one affected may not know a difference. There are many different experiences that may trigger depressed feelings. Some people are susceptible to changes in weather, and so a cold or rainy day may cause someone to feel listless or “down”. It may be a brief disappointment. It can be sadness over a loss or a serious change in life circumstances. For some of us it may be a bone weary, can’t get out of bed, not interested in hobbies or activities that once brought delight, withdrawal from friends and family feeling, with no obvious trigger. Whatever the reason, depression is real and to those who suffer it, depression is a very difficult experience. For most of us, the feelings are temporary and manageable. There are coping techniques we are able to use that will help to dissipate depressed feelings. If you find your depressed feeling lasting more than a few days, be sure to call your doctor and seek help. There are things that your doctor can do, and people to whom she may refer you, that will provide relief. In the short term, here are some suggestions to try.
Write it out. How are you feeling right now, in this moment? What is happening around you that may have preceded these feelings? What did you eat? How much have you slept? What has changed and how are you dealing with that change? Keeping a journal will help in several ways. It will give clues to reasons for the feelings you are experiencing. You will be able to see patterns that lead to what triggers those down days.
Change the Scenery:
Get up and move. Go to a shopping mall. Take your dog for a long walk or a hike at your nearest community trails. Do something! Even if you spend some time driving and having lunch at a drive-in, a change of scenery is often quite helpful. Walking is good not only for exercise but also for activating the mood elevating chemicals in your body and brain. Running is really good, as well. Be pragmatic about the process. If you haven’t been a runner, it will take time to build up technique and stamina. Move. Shake out your body. Stretch. Even though you believe in that moment you are without the strength to move, you can do it. Don’t let your depression trick you into believing you must stay that way.
William Schoellkopf who once got into depression found meditation very effective. Practice some cleansing breaths. Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to 5. Then exhale through your mouth as you slowly count to 5 again. Do this at least 3 times. Pay attention only to your own breath. From top to bottom, stretch your muscles, hold that position for a count of 5 and then relax the muscle. Do this until you have thoroughly stretched. Now, while sitting quietly, close your eyes. William Schoellkopf focuses his mind on one image or word. Perhaps it’s a boat, or a pier or the ocean. It might be the word “calm” or “peace” or “love”. When other thoughts try to enter your head and take over your focus, acknowledge that they are there and then send them away and continue focusing. If you have never done this before, 5 minutes will probably be enough. You can work your way up to more time and that will be most helpful!
Talk to Someone:
Call a friend and meet for coffee. Try something or somewhere new. If the feelings seem to linger and you are finding it difficult to make your way back to peace and energy, make an appointment with a counselor to help you regain yourself. If you have no one to call, go to a restaurant or a store and speak to clerks, or families, or others who are there. Long conversations are not necessary. Compliment someone on their hair, their clothing choice, whatever you notice that you can make a positive comment about. Remember, everyone is struggling with something in this life. Sometimes the best treatment is to get outside of you and lift the spirits of someone else. You might just be surprised at how good that feels!