Depression is a bastard.
Instead of knocking down your front door, it will sit on top of your head–quiet, unassuming and an ever-looming presence. You make plans for your day and in your life…plans that are productive and good for your recovery, plans that will help you look good and feel better then….
Your depression seeps in your brain and like a vampire drains you of your resolve to move forward and the energy to get out of bed or off the couch. You don’t move, don’t eat and don’t realize that time is passing you by. This blue funk is only made worse by the comments that your family or friends make:
Snap out of it!
Just look at yourself
Just go for a walk
If you think depression is a bitch, imagine dealing with depression if you are recovering from substance abuse. You thought that getting sober meant getting better, and now this….what gives?
Do You Want To Beat Depression… You Need To Take The Power Back
In order to truly beat back depression, you need to be proactive.
I know, it is easy to say when you aren’t neck deep in the big blue funk, barely having the energy to move one muscle. While it can be a challenge, you can do it and you know why?
You have tools
When you were in treatment for your addiction, the life and coping skills that help you work your program of recovery will also help keep your depression at bay. You got the tools, now it is time to start using them. You can’t beat back depression by sitting idly by, you need to do esteemable things in order to build your own esteem.
5 Tips To Help You Deal With Depression
1 – Start Small
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by depression; it is like a vast slow-moving blob of doom and gloom. To attempt and jump in with both feet and try to swim to shore won’t work. The easiest way to start handling your depression is by doing little things. Start by going for small walks or calling a friend or your sponsor…heck, get to a meeting, whatever you need to do.
The concept of starting small is akin to the what the samurai would call attacking the corners. By attacking the corners, you start by doing one thing – however small – and move on to the next. By using this philosophy, big problems become smaller and more manageable. If you think about it, this old samurai philosophy mirrors that of the Serenity prayer… hmmm.
2 – Get Support
How have you come this far in your recovery? A huge part of your success is the support system that you have cultivated–family, friends, your sponsor, people in your home group. These people are invaluable in providing you the support, encouragement and shoulder to lean on what you need in most.
The same thing holds true when you are dealing with depression. You have the people in your corner, all you need to do is reach out. If you feel too tired or feel that reaching out to your support people is going to be a bother, remind yourself that is the depression talking and not you. Reaching out isn’t a sign that you are weak.
Make that phone call.
Go over to a family member or friend’s house.
Go to social functions… even if you don’t feel like it.
If you need to, join a depression support group. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation.
3 – Challenge Your Thinking
Your lid isn’t screwed on right when you are dealing with depression. Everything is negative…you, your family, your job, your car, your dog – everything. To flip negativity on its ear, you need to challenge what you are thinking and replace negative thinking with realistic, more balanced thinking.
Start with not being so hard on yourself for starters, you aren’t perfect. Surround yourself with people who think and act in a positive fashion. If you have difficulty with this, fake it until you make it. It may also help to keep a journal in which you can write down these thoughts so you can read it back to yourself when your mood improves.
4 – Get Sleep and Sun
You want to beat back the blues? Take care of yourself, shorty.
What holds true in recovery holds true here; practicing self-care helps you feel better all around. Make sure you are getting enough sleep (between 6 to 8 hours a night). It also helps to get out in the sunshine and soak up that vitamin D. You also may want to pursue hobbies that will help to reduce stress (those involving art and music are good)
5 – Do Your Body Right
You have heard it before… exercise is a great way to beat depression.
It is said that regular exercise is as effective as taking antidepressant medication. If you can aim for 30 minutes a day that is a great start.
You don’t have to get all gonzo at a gym, but you should engage in moderately intense exercise that in continuous and rhythmic such as walking, swimming or dancing. Balance that shit out with some tai-chi, yoga and some mindful meditation and you are in business.
And what about your diet? While ice cream, cookies and other types of comfort foods feel good to eat, they aren’t the best when dealing with depression. You need to aim for a balanced diet rich which has the following:
- Complex carbohydrates–like oatmeal and whole wheat pasta
- Superfoods – like bananas, spinach and brown rice
- Load up on fruits and vegetables
- Omega 3 fatty acids–such found in seafood and fish
There are also things in your diet you need to minimize such as refined sugars, caffeine, trans- and saturated fats and foods that are high is chemical preservatives.
If you find your depression getting worse and worse, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Again, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. You are arming yourself with tools to help you get better! Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your overall treatment plan.