It is in the nature of depression to make us think negatively about ourselves and our future. It is possible that it is these symptoms that are stopping us from from taking the next steps. We therefore need to change our behaviour and learn to tackle things in a different way.
- Getting out of bed; if staying in bed really helps you to feel better, then this is fine. However most of the time, for myself at least, it does not. Instead I simply use my bed to hide away, and this is of course followed by feelings of guilt for not doing the things I have to do. Although your bed can feel like a safe place, it can actually be much worse in the long run, if we use it as a place to brood over our problems. It is therefore important to use your bed as a positive place (eg, as a place to read) and as a place to rest.
- Distraction; when we feel depressed we tend to dwell on certain negative thoughts, a way to get around this is to distract ourselves. This can be done by increasing our activity, as when we are depressed when can sometimes feel agitated and unable to relax. At this point it is best to get up and do something, even if you only take a walk to the shops if that is all you can manage.
- Planning positive activities; it is important to try and plan one positive activity a day, as sometimes it can be hard remember to do things that give/used to give you joy, when you spend all your time just struggling to do the mundane things in life. It can therefore be helpful to give yourself some time at the end of the day to do something you feel you could enjoy.
- Knowing your limits; at various times in my life I have become exhausted from working too much, and was unable to cope with the demands placed upon me – this is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our limits, and unfortunately when we are depressed these limits may be lower than they would normally be. Limits vary from person to person and although some people may seem to be able to cope with anything (and make us feel that we should be able to do so as well), this does not mean that we should.
- Coping with boredom; some depressions are related to feeling under stimulated, or being socially or emotionally isolated and lonely. The key is to hold onto the relationships you do have, and ensure that you at least talk to your friends on the phone once a week. When boredom occurs, you need to spend some time coming up with a list of activities that you used to find pleasure in. My personal list is self care orientated; I used to enjoy getting ready, doing my hair and applying make up, however these tasks now seem like a chore so I try to avoid them. The idea is to try and see these tasks in a positive light, and by reintroducing them slowly and perhaps doing these tasks mindfully, we can learn to enjoy them again.
- Dealing with sleep difficulties; sleep problems are a typical symptom of depression and can take various forms, for example, some people find it difficult to get to sleep, whilst others wake up ridiculously early (myself included). We need to plan for sleep. Ensure that we are relaxing an hour before we go to sleep, that we have planned for the day ahead.