In this article we're going to focus on 6 tips to help you care for yourself at the levels of your mind, body and soul as part of your journey out of depression.
This article is not in any way a substitute for the advice, guidance and support of registered healthcare professionals. If you are experiencing depression, please seek the help of a professional (e.g counsellor, therapist, psychologist). The tips below are designed to be additional self-help points that might be useful to incorporate into your healing journey.
1. Define Your Support Team & Stay in Touch
We all need a support team on our life journey. Think of it like a team of people you know, personally or professionally, who have your back and you can turn to in times of need.
Any successful endeavour requires a support team! And life is indeed an endeavour! A daring feat. A rollercoaster. An adventure. There are mountains to climb and valleys to traverse. There is light and there is dark. We have ups and downs. We have strengths and we have weaknesses. We are human after all. We will make mistakes, we will fall over, we will find ourselves at times feelings lost and unsure how we got there, or how to get out.
That's where your support team comes in handy.
A support team is simply ANYONE positive and helpful that you can trust. This might include family members, extended family, friends, healthcare professionals, acquaintances, role models, members of your extended social/community network, other professional advisers or people in your faith group.
Start by making a list of who is in your support team. They don't have to know they are in your support team, or even choose to be in it. It's just a good way for you to FRAME a list of people that are positive and helpful whom you can trust.
Then, get in touch with those people on a regular basis. Just being in their good energy is helpful. But also share with them how you feel, ask questions if you need solutions/answers, ask for guidance.
You don't have to walk this journey out of depression alone. You are NOT alone.
You might consider having a registered professional who can help you when needed on your healing journey as a part of this support team e.g. a counsellor or therapist.
2. Soothe Your Mind and Emotional System
It is so very important to take good care of your mind and emotional system. These are the tools through which you experience your life.
Your mind is constantly perceiving the world around you, you're having thoughts, you're thinking about the past, you're thinking about the future, and all of this is triggering existing beliefs you have, and giving rising to certain types of feelings (depending on the types of beliefs/thoughts you have).
To create a shift in how you're thinking and feelings means you need to provide NEW LEADERSHIP to yourself. If you do nothing, the same old difficult thoughts repeat and the uneasy feelings grow. If you instead intervene and introduce new types of thoughts, and soothe/nurture your emotional state, you can create a new healthy, peaceful, positive trajectory for yourself.
Here are a few easy ways to sooth your mind and emotional system, and lead them in a new (better) direction:
3. Move Your Body
Our bodies are the most incredible, beautiful and clever creations. Our bodies have an inherent healing capacity. They are designed to care for us and to heal, and to support us to be here in life. They are the vehicle that our souls drive around in!
But our bodies need certain things in order for us to function well. The less our bodies get those things, the less functional they become. The less our bodies function well, the most adversely it can impact our mental and emotional state.
In turn, the more our mental and emotional state suffers, the more impact this can have on our bodies.
Our mind, emotions and physical bodies are intricately connected.
“Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance wellbeing in our population. It is known that even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases mental alertness, energy and positive mood states.” – Mental Health Foundation UK (Let's Get Physical report – the impact of physical activity on wellbeing)
This can therefore be either a viscous cycle where our mind, emotional system and body are pulling each other down and down, or lifting each other up and up.
When you're struggling with a difficult mental and emotional state, it's so helpful to move your body, to be physically active (be that exercising, forms of fitness/sport, cycling, hiking, gentle movement like walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi or otherwise). The more you move your body, supporting your physical wellbeing, the more your physical wellness starts to positively support your mental and emotional wellness.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
As well as nurturing your mind, emotions and moving your body in these ways, be mindful of what you eat and drink.
There's no need to dive deep into an analysis of everything you consume, nor to worry or feel stressed in any way about “figuring out” the right nutrition. As a simple rule of thumb, take small steps to reduce things you eat/drink that you know don't leave you feeling good (e.g excess of alcohol, sugary drinks, deep fried food, processed food, fast food) and instead increase things that leave you feeling energized in mind, body and spirit (e.g staying hydrated with water, eating whole foods and fresh food from Mother Nature like vegetables and fruit).
5. Find Purpose
So often when people feel down, blue or depressed, that can be coupled with a sense of having no purpose, existential questions about what the point of life is, feeling lost, unsure and not feeling one's own value, worth or impact.
Having a sense of purpose gives us something to live for, to get up each day for, to feel good about ourselves, and to feel aspirational and forward looking.
Click here for an article on Finding Your Purpose that shares 3 simple “purpose possibilities” you could choose to use right now to bring an immediate sense of purpose to your daily life.
6. Be of Service
Look for ways you can help others. So often when we are feeling down or depressed we become caught within our difficult thoughts and feelings, and it can be hard to find a way out. Just the simple act of helping another person immediately takes the focus off ourselves, and onto someone else. By doing this in such a positive way, we not only help another human being, and get relief from our own difficult inner struggle, but we also get a sense of purpose and empowerment.
If you have or are experiencing difficult thoughts/feelings, blues, sadness, grief, depression or other challenges, please share in the comments below what has worked for you.