Self Help Do's for Depression:
1. Do something you want to do - even if it's only five minutes of fun per day. This step is very important in climbing the ladder back to enjoying life. Although finding something that interests you may sound obvious in order to enjoy life, it can be difficult when depression has taken it's toll and removed the daily interest of living.
2. Focus on things you enjoy. (Again this may sound like, duh, but seriously - how much time do you spend worrying about stuff you may not even be able to do anything about - like other people's actions and opinions?) Focusing on pleasure instead of despair is something to practice. Do you approach life too seriously from an all work mode? It's OKAY to enjoy life!
3. Exercise. Check with your doctor. If you are healthy enough for physical activity, go for a walk, ride a bike, jog, do sit-ups, an exercise video, join a health club, or swim. Many people have fun working out on a Wii Fit Plus. Exercise doesn't have to be a big commitment to a program or gym. Just do something for 20 - 30 minutes - daily, if possible. Exercise really does release endorphins in our bodies that help us feel better. In twenty minutes you could feel better - not just because of endorphins but knowing you've done something for yourself when perhaps you feel like you're all alone or as if no one cares.
And don't stress if you didn't get around to it today, you can try again tomorrow. You can help yourself.
4. Give up being perfect. No one is perfect but that doesn't stop many people from trying to be perfect: doing the laundry perfectly, cleaning the floors perfectly, doing homework perfectly, organizing perfectly, resolving issues perfectly, decorating homes perfectly, parenting perfectly, preparing perfect meals, driving perfectly, being a perfect mother/spouse/daughter/friend/volunteer... This adds a lot of pressure which equals STRESS! If this describes you, give yourself a break. (You may also need to give others a break too.)
5. Write. Even if you aren't a writer, try writing about what's going on. It doesn't have to be in complete sentences. You could make a list or even a whiny letter to God asking for help. Getting the stuff in your head out on paper to clarify and release emotions, can be very freeing. Try it!
6. Smile and laugh. Don't feel like it? Smile and laugh anyway. Research shows that even when we have a fake smile or laugh, endorphins are released in our bodies which make us feel better. Use a smile to fake out those nasty feelings of despair.
7. Be gentle with yourself. Depression can put you in a mental fog. If you don't remember things or can't quite seem to get all the details of an activity together, that is very understandable. Make a list and allow yourself more time and rest. Treat yourself as nicely as you would a friend, neighbor or child.
8. Balance. Whew! This can be tough. Balancing responsiblities such as grocery shopping, laundry, and getting the oil changed in your car against personal needs like taking a shower, getting a haircut, or seeing a doctor and the need for personal fulfillment (reading a book, being with friends, watching a movie) can be tricky at best.
Make a list and determine what needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow or next week. Can you get help with something on your list? Prioritize, delegate, and give yourself permission to take small steps toward achieving balance.
If you spend too much time on the couch watching TV, make a plan for your day that will add balance. Likewise, if you stay too busy, don't get the rest you need, and are constantly on the go - STOP and rest.
And remember to include a time of personal fulfillment in your day.
9. Sleep. Get the rest your body needs. Spending time staying up too late in order to get more done leads to sleep deprivation which causes mood swings, depression and other issues. Lie down even for a few minutes or take a brief nap, if possible. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble sleeping.
10. Eat well. Eating won't make your depression go away BUT eating well will help you feel better about yourself - especially if weight gain is an issue. Try eating salad three times each day. It's cheap, good for you, tastes alright, makes your skin brighter, has lots of vitamins, helps with regularity (yippy!), and doesn't add many calories. Eating right helps your body feel better which will help you feel better about yourself. - No guilt over stuffing your face with a box of crackers. Don't let a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream tell you what to do. You have a choice. Seek comfort, fun, and fulfillment in other ways besides eating.