Everyone has faced some kind of depression in their life, funny is it sneaks into your life and slowly takes over, stress, anger, frustration only help it grow. The first time I went through a major depression was probably in university, but I didn’t realize I was depressed until I reflected years after, when I started getting panic attacks. Battling with this monster is a tough task because, your brain is working against you. Some people find the right medication, some people find the right therapist. All I know is that it’s a lifetime struggle keeping it in check, so it doesn’t take over you. Sometimes you are more successful with it, sometimes less, that’s how life is.
I am by no means an expert, so these steps are just something that helped me along the way, these are like simple basic steps that anyone can do regardless of age, so the depression has a harder time sneaking in into your life. Many times I catch myself not following these steps and I start feeling bad, as I said before: “You win some, you lose some, but you learn along the way.”
Find a good sleep schedule and stick with it
Major issue I had in high school and university, I always stayed up late till 1 am or 2 am doing work(procrastinating) or playing video games. Not getting enough sleep is terrible for your mental and for your energy levels. You get irritated more, you have no energy, you can’t focus on the task at hand. Sleep is so important, many people these days don’t get enough sleep, stay up way to late. You work all day long, or you have kids, so the nighttime is the only free time you get.
Start training your brain going to bed at the same time every day. It will be hard at first, because you won’t be able to sleep, but trust me, give it some time and your brain will adjust to it. One thing that helps me is: I go to bed at around 9 pm, even if I am not sleepy. I just lay down, turn on the radio, listen to a podcast, I just relax and chill. I do this every day, it was hard at first, but now it is like my routine and I enjoy it. You can try various other things to get yourself ready for bed, reading a book, talking with your partner, light exercise, whatever fits you. What I don’t recommend is watching TV, Movies or reading on your Smartphone. Lots of studies show that staring at a screen before going to bed, makes it harder for you to fall asleep. I recommend you getting 7-8 hours of sleep every day, some people need a little less some a little more, but I think less than 6 hours is not enough sleep.
If I don’t get my sleep, I am tired, irritated, and I don’t feel good, which helps with the depression creeping in again.
Have someone to talk to
It’s very hard going through life alone, I learned that lesson the hard way. In my culture it is very uncommon to share your true feelings with someone, that’s why people drink so much, because with drinking all the barriers are off. It doesn’t have to be that way. I am not saying share with every person you meet all your personal details. Start with a person or two, you might get surprised. It’s very hard for people to open up, because they are afraid of getting burned, or they have trust issues from their childhood on.
It becomes even harder to reach out to someone when you are depressed, so it’s important to have a person or a close circle that supports you. They are your safety cushion, your pillar of strength, so the depression has an even harder time creeping in. For me, my pillar of strength is my family and God. What is yours? If you don’t have anyone in your life, try reaching out to people. Volunteer, join a club, try a sport that you like.
Reach out to people, it’s very important.
Try to eat healthy
This point is especially important for the teenagers and younger people, because let’s face it, when you are young you eat all sorts of junk food. I remember in high school, it was pizza or sandwiches every day for lunch, combine that with my messed up sleep schedule. No wonder I had no energy.
A proper balanced diet is so important, especially when you are growing, your brain is developing. You want to cut on the sugar, so you avoid sugar spikes. What are sugar spikes? It’s when you feel that urge to eat, when you feel like collapsing if you don’t eat something. Lots of people preach: “My blood sugar is down, have to eat some chocolate.” It helps, yes, but you should never be in that situation.
Have a proper breakfast every day: Eggs, Oats, Fruits, Smoothie, peanut butter. Please no cereals, Nutella, toast(white bread). It will mess up your sugar levels. Go for minimal three meals a day if you can. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. High protein, high fiber and low refined sugars.
I will write more about that topic in the future.
Exercise and go outside
Very important, especially in these times, where kids have to sit in front of the computer the whole day. Go for an hour-long walk EVERYDAY. This is like the bare minimum, take your headphones set up some music, listen to the radio, podcast whatever and just go for a walk. You don’t feel good? Go for a walk. Feeling down? Go for a walk. Seriously, it’s so soothing for your soul. Try to avoid cities if you can, go to a park where there is no lots of noise. If you feel like exercising try jumping rope, go lift some weights, it can be anything, and you don’t need to do it for longer periods of time. You can develop a routine and just jump rope every single morning for 5 min, start small and build yourself up for the long run. I have failed many times, because I set my expectations too high, and I end up failing. It’s better to exercise for 5 min a day, than 0 min, keep that in mind.
Does this mean if I follow all the steps above, my depression will go away forever? No, it takes a lot of work to stay out of depression, for many people it’s a lifelong battle, that is what makes it so scary. You always get these thoughts: “Will I ever get out of this, how can I live with this…” It gets easier with time, and when you get more experienced, you will start to see the signs of depression creeping in. Everything in life is easier to face when you are a little prepared, these are the basic steps to help you to get there.