Health Matters

5 Daily Tips (You Already Know) For Pushing Through Your Depressive Rut

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. Again.

Depression is a beast, and frankly, sometimes we just don’t feel like dragon-slaying to get through the morning, let alone an entire day. I’m not talking about lighter days where we just need an extra hour of sleep because the kids kept us up, or when ruminating over that nasty stapler stealing boss at work begins affecting our relationships at home.

I’m talking about the days we’d rather stay in bed with the covers pulled up over our head and even the meds or extra chocolate stopped working. I’m talking about when the sense of hopelessness begins to cement, and even prayers to God seem to be wait-listed. These feelings of defeat and shame, while often triggered by the loss of a loved one, divorce, job change, trauma or medical condition, cause us to hit the floor hard. But keeping it simple, we need to get back up. So how do we do that when even the smallest tasks like brushing our teeth feel like braving Mount Everest?

INSIDE OUT. Pixar Animated

Sadness. Image Credit: Pixar Animation Studios.

Here are 5 daily tips (you already know) for pushing through a depressive rut:

Give yourself permission. No one wants to hear it, because it sounds counterproductive. But here goes: it’s actually OK to feel depressed. It’s the getting mired down and stifled by depression for too long that we want to avoid. Giving ourselves permission to be where we are, and feel “like crap” is needed in order to move forward. Some days simply shaking off the dark clouds lingering over us doesn’t work.  We need to give ourselves permission to be down in the dark, also allowing ourselves to move slowly and tenderly through the day until the storm begins to lift. (It always will.)

Pray. Yes, pray…even if it’s to Batman.  Huh? You heard me. The concept of turning to a “Higher Power” even if we don’t get it or understand it does help. Recognizing we’re powerless over a depressive episode and need something “bigger” opens a pathway to receive the help we need to get better.  Even those of us who may be strong in our faith practice aren’t immune to how depression negatively affects our feeling spiritually motivated in times of crisis. Call out to the Universe anyway for the strength you need. Then do it again.

Self-care. If you’ve ever run the gauntlet of depression to the point of needing anti-depression medication and therapy, you’ve already heard countless times that self-care is important. Face down on the floor and overwrought with emotion? Take the shower. Floss the teeth. (Or even both.) Go outside. Take the “next indicated action” from where you are now to where you need to go. Small, baby steps. Not only are you taking care of yourself, you are taking needed action for breaking a “thought-cycle” that strongholds your movement while buried in depression.

Call/text/IM someone. Isolation grows depression.  I know what you may be thinking: I feel so low right now, I don’t want to burden anyone else with how I’m feeling. Thing is, we don’t need to want to reach out to other people in order to begin a connection needed to move our present situation. Just do it. A simple text to say you are thinking of a friend or family member, is another step away from the darker corners that keep us sick and stuck.

Take note. Every day has its own DNA.  When down and struggling, the chatter in our heads screaming that nothing will change are always loudest. Writing down a few thoughts, or glancing at the clock to record our feelings on a post-it is helpful especially when in emotional and physical pain.  Depressive episodes often move like waves, some bigger and some longer than others. A post-it note or journal entry function as reminders that our moods are often shifting and don’t remain constant.

Just keep going. Remember that we can start our day over at any time, and that each and every storm that comes our way will pass. Some days will be harder than others, so finding a keeping it simple check-list for depression recovery that works is key.

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