Living with depression can often feel like an ongoing battle to just get through the day. This doesn't usually leave a lot of room to accomplish things you strive to accomplish or reach goals you set for yourself.
But managing depression doesn’t have to feel impossible…
There are ways to make coping with depression even the slightest bit easier, from taking your routines back to basics to releasing the resistance around how you think or feel things should be.
The following 5 ways to make living with depression more manageable aren’t things that take years of therapy or dozens of books to learn how to do.
They’re things you can implement right now.
Choose one or more and be patient and compassionate with yourself as you shift how you cope with depression.
Back to basics
Going back to basics in your routines means allowing your brain to run more on autopilot, freeing up brain power to do and focus on other things, like healing.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with depression, one of the best things you can do is take a look at your routines and determine where you can simplify them.
This can mean laying out all the items needed for your morning or bedtime hygiene routine on your countertop so they’re ready for you - toothpaste, toothbrush, face wash, towel - making completing your routine that much easier.
It can look like a bowl of oatmeal with fruit in the mornings for breakfast rather than trying to cook followed by clean up and dishes. Or, taking it a step further, simplifying all of your meals since cooking can be so challenging when coping with depression.
It can even mean minimizing your makeup routine if you feel overwhelmed by getting ready in the morning. Choose two or three products you love or that boost your confidence and simplify your routine down to include only those things.
Write it out
One of the hardest parts of managing depression symptoms is the overwhelming negative thoughts that intrude on your daily life.
Pulling out an empty notepad on your phone or a blank page in a journal and writing out your thoughts is a proven way to get them out of your head and onto paper (or digital paper!).
This takes the energy being used by your brain to cycle the negative thoughts and transfers it to the paper, often helping you process through your emotions as you write.
When we keep intrusive thoughts swirling around in our minds, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by them and allow them to multiply. We become blinded by a lens of negativity where everything we see is colored by a negative tinge.
Writing out your thoughts, even if you never go back and read it, is like putting a new air filter in your heater vent. When your filter is clean, your thoughts can be more clean as well.
Resisting where we’re at in the present moment causes so much more tension in the process of letting go and moving forward.
It’s so common to feel resistance to the experience of depression, to fight it, to do everything you can to push it away, and to mentally press back against it.
Many people who live with depression do this by focusing on all the things they can’t do while they’re experiencing depression, like keeping the house clean, or prioritizing social outings, or even practicing self-care.
It’s normal as your mental bandwidth decreases while coping with depression to not be able to manage as much as you ordinarily can in your everyday life.
The more you resist the natural occurrence of less productivity, the harder if will be to find compassion for yourself.
Remind yourself that you’re never operating at full capacity when you’re coping with depression, and that doing less is an expected result of that and not a reflection of your worth.
Ask for help
Asking for help can be incredibly challenging when you’re feeling depressed, and for so many reasons.
It can lend to you feeling like you’re a burden to others, it can feel as if asking for help makes you weak or like you should be able to handle things on your own.
It can even seem like if you don’t ask for help, no one will know you’re struggling. Sometimes this is true, but often the people who love you the most know something is off. What they don’t know is how to help.
Asking those we trust for help is a way to engage with others and create some support in the isolation that depression often causes.
Small ways to ask for help can include:
- Asking for company to a doctor’s appointment
- Asking someone to listen or talk
- Asking if someone would be willing to go for a walk with you
- Asking if you can text your friend each morning when you get out of bed for accountability
- Asking for help organizing your medication
And so much more. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, just asking for small amounts of help can create a soft web of support within an experience that thrives on isolation.
One day at a time
One of the main focuses in all twelve step programs is the mantra One day at a time, and it’s a reminder that can be incredibly helpful when coping with depression as well.
Keeping your focus on the day in front of you, sometimes even only the hour in front of you, and simply moving through that day or hour can help keep things simple.
When you begin looking at the bigger picture, oftentimes it can feel overwhelming and your mind will come up with questions like, How long will this depression last? Will I be this way forever? What if I never enjoy my hobbies again? Will my friends still like me if I never go back to normal?
These thoughts can easily turn into ruminating and cause depression to spiral further.
Keeping your mind focused on only what comes next for you in your day allows you to concentrate on doing one thing at a time and keep your attention in the present.
Living with depression can feel daunting, but implementing one or more of these small ideas for better management can help ease some of your struggle.
Remember, so much of coping with depression is simply in how you respond to it.
Respond to it with preparation and self-compassion like the above tools outline, and you’ll be better equipped to handle it when it comes creeping your way.