5 Self-Help Tips for Depres­si­on by HelloBetter

If you are suf­fe­ring from depres­si­on, it’s a big step to think about self-help. The rea­di­ness to help yours­elf shows that you fun­da­men­tal­ly trust yours­elf – even if you don’t rea­li­se that a lot of the time. And it shows that you want to care for yours­elf. We’d like to sup­port you with the­se 5 self-help tips for depres­si­on. The steps we recom­mend can help you work your way back towards a bet­ter qua­li­ty of life.

1. Build connections

Many peo­p­le suf­fe­ring from depres­si­on with­draw into them­sel­ves. They are not in the mood for acti­vi­ties or con­ver­sa­ti­ons. To help yours­elf out of this sta­te of with­dra­wal, you can set the goal of cont­ac­ting one fri­end or fami­ly mem­ber today. It doesn’t have to be a visit or call, it could also be a voice mes­sa­ge or a text.

2. Do some­thing good for yourself

During a depres­si­ve pha­se many peo­p­le for­get what they actual­ly enjoy. So think about three things you could do for yours­elf today. It could be some­thing deli­cious to eat, your favou­ri­te film or book, or a song you haven’t heard for ages. Choo­se one thing and let yours­elf feel it doing you good.

3. Get active

What did you do for fun befo­re you got depres­sed? What acti­vi­ties were you into? “Being acti­ve” in this sen­se doesn’t mean going jog­ging. It’s about acti­vi­ties that are natu­ral­ly appe­al­ing to you – it might be a shop­ping trip, going to a cafe or the cine­ma, or a game of poker. Think about three acti­vi­ties like this and make a plan to do at least one over the next three days.

4. Obser­ve your thoughts

Many peo­p­le with depres­si­on suf­fer from repea­ted unp­lea­sant thoughts. Have a go, per­haps right after rea­ding this artic­le, at obser­ving your thoughts for five minu­tes. That means being awa­re of them but try­ing not to react to them. Don’t keep tur­ning them over in your head. You might be able to catch your mind con­stant­ly che­wing over the same or simi­lar thoughts. If you obser­ve your thoughts in this way it will help you to distance yours­elf from them. This way fewer unp­lea­sant fee­lings will arise.

5. Obser­ve your feelings

Just as you paid atten­ti­on to your thoughts, you can do the same with your fee­lings. Fee­lings can seem over­whel­ming. Some­ti­mes it feels like we are hel­p­less as they crash over us like a wave. But who is real­ly being over­whel­med by who here? Try to dis­co­ver the “obser­ver” in you, which beco­mes awa­re of the fee­ling. You can be a wit­ness to how fee­lings come and go. Prac­ti­se and expe­ri­ment iden­ti­fy­ing more with the “obser­ver” than with the fee­ling. This tech­ni­que can gra­du­al­ly help you gain more men­tal stability.

The way out of depres­si­on: self-help in dai­ly life

If you have spo­ken to other peo­p­le about how you are fee­ling, you have pro­ba­b­ly alre­a­dy been given a few tips. But how do you moti­va­te yours­elf to imple­ment them? Have a go at doing one thing to help yours­elf every day. For exam­p­le, you could plan to do a nice acti­vi­ty every other day, to call a fri­end once a week, for exam­p­le on Mon­days, and to do some­thing for yours­elf every evening. And make the obser­ver of your thoughts and fee­lings into a dai­ly com­pa­n­ion. You can set asi­de a set time peri­od in which you obser­ve your thoughts and fee­lings par­ti­cu­lar­ly atten­tively, for exam­p­le the first ten minu­tes after you wake up. 

One step at a time

It’s very important not to push yours­elf too hard. If you aim to do too much, you risk not mana­ging it all and get­ting frus­tra­ted. In the worst-case sce­na­rio you might give up on your who­le self-help pro­ject. So for exam­p­le, ins­tead of plan­ning a day trip you might go for a half-hour walk. At first, don’t cont­act peo­p­le you often have con­flict with, but get in touch with peo­p­le who are always sup­port­i­ve. Don’t try to obser­ve your thoughts and fee­lings all day long, but ins­tead just for a few minu­tes – but real­ly con­cen­tra­te. This way you can gra­du­al­ly impro­ve your mood. Be pati­ent and kind to yourself.

If you have tried imple­men­ting the­se tips for a while but you haven’t noti­ced any impro­ve­ment, our online cour­se for depres­si­on can give you fur­ther help. Over six weeks, you will learn effec­ti­ve stra­te­gies to redu­ce depres­si­ve sym­ptoms and to impro­ve your mood in the long term. You can find more infor­ma­ti­on on the cour­se page.

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