One thing I wish I knew during my first few experiences with mental illness is how to handle depression in the moment. I’m a big fan of lifestyle changes, talking to a therapist, and even looking into medication. But none of those options can help immediately. After years of experiencing depression in many forms, I’m only starting to get a better handle on what to do in those tough moments when you truly feel your worst. Whether you experience depression or not, I think these tips can help any time you are feeling some sort of negative emotion.
Don’t fight it.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it is so true. The more you fight those negative feelings and try to make them go away, the worse you feel. It takes so much energy to do that and typically comes with shame & guilt for having those negative feelings in the first place. None of that is going to make anything better. Instead, try to simply be aware of it. See it, let it be what it is, and trust that it will go away (because it always does). It’s one of those impactful ways you can handle depression in the moment.
Do what makes you feel good.
Though it can be difficult to help yourself in moments of deep depression, just do what you can. If you can get yourself outside for a walk, that’s awesome! If not, that’s totally ok too. Just let your body do what it wants. For me, that typically means laying on the couch and watching TV. Though I’ve found myself feeling guilty for not taking the initiative to help myself, I’m realizing more and more how hard it is to take action during moments of depression. So I try to give myself a break, and just do whatever I can. If that means napping on the couch, then so be it!
Rate your depression from 1-10.
I’ve found that putting a number on my depression can help me separate myself from it a bit. There is such a large spectrum of depression and it can help to understand exactly where you fall in that moment. Not just for yourself, but to be able to communicate that to your partner or family as well. Typically, 1 means you’re not depressed at all and 10 means you’re suicidal. If you can evaluate yourself clearly, it can help put things into perspective and see depression as something separate from you, rather than as something that defines you.
Communicate with the people around you.
It can be so hard to do this when you’re feeling low, but communicating with your loved ones is so important in times like this. Whether that just means a quick text to tell your best friend you’re feeling down or a full-blown conversation with your mom, any sort of communication helps. It makes us remember that we’re not alone, that we are loved, and that we are worthy of happiness.
Remember: this isn’t permanent.
One thing I constantly try and remind myself of in those moments is that this feeling isn’t permanent. I know it can feel like it is, trust me! But reminding yourself that you have felt happiness before—and that you will again—can be very helpful.
What do you do the moment you feel depressed or down?