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8 Depression Coping Strategies That Help Me

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This winter has been tough for me as far as my depression goes. It’s been so cloudy and dreary, and I do think the lack of sun has affected me. I’ve had to keep fighting to keep myself from sinking too low. I know I’ve shared my battle with depression in the past, so I want to continue to do that.

I suppose I’m one of the unlucky ones who has several chronic illnesses along with mental health problems. I have both depression and anxiety. My anxiety is under control with medication; however, my depression, while being treated, is not. Since I’ve been on medication, my depression is much better than it was when it was untreated. In fact, I can go a very long time and not feel depressed at all. But, I have flare ups of depression, and that is hard to handle. I’m learning what it is I need to help myself on those bad days. Here are a few things that have helped me:

1. Communicating with others. A tendency to isolate oneself is often part of depression, so it’s a struggle to reach out to others when I’m feeling down. There are certain people I do not call when I’m feeling low. I think we all have or have had friends or family members who are draining. A phone call with a request for help can sometimes turn into an hour-long monolog by said friend. For obvious reasons, this is not helpful. I try to call or text others when I’m doing well as to not “be that person.” You know, the one who only calls when they’re in crises. Find your person. The one who understands you and will be there for you when you need them. Of course, it goes without saying, you need to be there for them, too.

2. Getting out of the house. Being out in the fresh air, and sunshine if you’re lucky enough to have some, can be healing for me. Sometimes, just going out to walk the dog will help me feel a little bit better. I might see a neighbor and chat for a bit or see a few squirrels, which are my favorite wild animals. It’s fun to watch them chase each other around the yard and up the tree. While going shopping isn’t always my favorite thing to do, I have found I sometimes feel better being out and around others.

woman walking outdoors

3. Reading a good book. I’ve always loved to read. When I’m depressed, I find it hard to focus, though, so I try to keep my reading rather light at those times. There’s something to be said about escaping into a light-hearted fiction book. Along with my book, I might enjoy having a bit of candy or a cookie. I try to eat dark chocolate most of the time. Obviously, the sweets aren’t an everyday occurrence, but something I allow myself to have occasionally.
4. Having something to work on. I’m not talking about a huge project like painting a room but something small and more manageable to help me to “get out of my head.” If I’m too sick to get out of bed, I might pass the time planning our next family get-together, my future remodeling projects or next years’ vacation. If I’m able to be up and about, I may work on organizing family photos or paperwork or spend some time baking.
kermit the frog baking

5. Surrounding myself with water. A long shower or a soak in the tub are always relaxing to me. In the summer, I’ll spend time in our pool. The sound of water has always soothed me, so listening to my sound app that has a variety of water sounds is healing. We are fortunate enough to live in a city on the river; walking along the walkway by the river is an enjoyable way to get exercise while viewing and hearing the water.

6. Listening to music. Music can be so therapeutic. I’ve always been a music lover; as a child, I remember spending most of my allowance on 45s (I’m giving my age away, aren’t I?). I enjoy a variety of music: jazz, oldies, country, rock, contemporary Christian, etc. I’m really not too picky. All I know is immersing myself in the sound of music does more to lift my mood than almost anything else.

7. Connecting with God. Prayer, reading scripture, listening to church service all help me. I’m not the most religious person, but I am a believer, and I do feel there’s a place for religion or some spiritual connection when dealing with my chronic illness. For me, having faith and hope help make the bad days not so bad.

bible verse

8. Keeping things in perspective. It’s so easy to let yourself ruminate about things, but that isn’t always conducive to good mental health. I find if I’m able to tell myself I’ve felt this way before and I made it through to the other side, those “what if” and “why me” thoughts occur much less. Looking through the foggy lenses of a depressed person is difficult; that’s why having the ability to remember the ups and downs of life is so helpful.

These coping strategies may or may not be helpful to you, but it certainly won’t hurt to try some of them. If you are clinically depressed or suicidal, you should see a professional. Here’s to having better days ahead for all of us!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Originally published: March 25, 2017
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