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A Mini Self-Care Guide to Help Manage Depression

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Depression comes in many forms but no matter what type you are experiencing, it can make daily life feel incredibly difficult. Some common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, loss of interest in things that normally bring you enjoyment, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep, energy and appetite. For some people, suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors can also occur.

Whether you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, practicing self-care can help make things better. Taking care of yourself when you are experiencing a depressed episode does not have to be going to a yoga class, going out to restaurants or attending a party. Rather than setting high expectations for yourself, consider placing an emphasis on tiny steps because that is what will set you up for success.

Here are minimal self-care tips when you’re experiencing depression:

1. Tracking

Being aware of your moods will help you notice patterns. You can track your mood on paper or with your phone with an app like Daylio. Tracking will help you figure out if there are certain times, places or people that trigger mood shifts.

2. Sleep

Getting quality sleep is known to improve your overall mood. Creating a nighttime ritual can help improve your sleep hygiene. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, avoiding mid-day naps and shutting off screens two hours before bedtime are common ways to improve your sleeping patterns.

3. Movement

Lying in bed all day can feel appealing, but this actually keeps your depressed mood active. Walking for as little as five minutes will prompt your body to produce endorphins that can help battle a depressed mood. If walking for a few minutes feels like too much, start even smaller, such as stretching or deep breathing.

4. Eating

Providing nourishment to your body can help balance mood shifts. Eating a well-balanced diet can decrease some of the depressive symptoms you are feeling by improving mood, increasing energy levels and improved concentration.

Additionally, it is worth noting that blood sugar drops can actually trigger depressed and irritable moods. Consider asking your primary care physician to go over your test results when you get your next annual physical to find out if you have any deficiencies.

5. Connection

Reaching out to loved ones for support when you’re experiencing depressive symptoms is crucial. Being open with people in your life can help them understand what type of support you need. For some people, going out with friends is doable. For others, having company in your own home to quietly watch a movie is enough. Ask for what feels right for you.

Making your way out of a depressive episode can feel impossible but making a commitment to small steps will help. Being mindful of your experience, knowing what triggers you and finding what helps will give you a sense of control back.

It is completely possible to manage depression and live a full life. If all you were able to accomplish in a given day was getting out of bed and eating something, you’re already taking action. Tiny victories count.

Getty Images: MangoStar_Studio

Originally published: November 26, 2019
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