Depression can radically change the way you look at life. You may have lost your relationship, job, orientation, hobbies, health, dreams, goals, and self-confidence. However, after a depressive episode, you can return to your normal life. This requires setting achievable goals, expanding positive social relationships, maintaining physical health, and managing depression in smart ways.
Method 1 of 4: Set goals for yourself
Step 1. Determine your life priorities
Goal setting is an important factor in helping to reduce the likelihood of future depression. To set positive goals for yourself, you may need to define your values or priorities at first. The deepest desires of your heart will tell you what will make your life happy.
- Make a list of your values or things that are important to you in life. This can include family, friends, work, love, money, and home.
- Think about past activities that have brought you pleasure, and try to figure out how to bring these things back into your life. Have you ever dreamed that this or that moment would never end? It is on such moments that you should concentrate. Maybe it's time with your partner, kids, close friends, or doing something you are good at or enjoy (hiking, writing, art, music, etc.).
Step 2. Consider career opportunities
What profession you choose in life can have a tremendous impact on your well-being. After all, you are spending 40 hours a week or more on your career.
- If you are not successful at your old job, try something else. These are all experiences and will help you develop.
- Do you want to get a new job in the near or distant future? Think about what kind of occupation you can handle, and will also bring you inner satisfaction and pleasure.
- Be patient. If you don't get the job right now, consider what might improve your chances. Volunteer, sign up for short courses, or upgrade your qualifications a little. It will do wonders for your self-esteem and your resume.
Step 3. Identify positive activities and set them as a goal
If you are recovering from depression, it may be difficult for you to get rid of passivity and get back into the rhythm of life. Staying active and finding activities to your liking can help reduce the likelihood that your depression symptoms will return.
- Concentrate on the assignments and responsibilities that need to be completed. For example, you can wash your car, cook a delicious lunch or dinner, mow your lawn, pay bills, go shopping, clean your home, learn new things, take care of your pet, tidy up your garden - the list goes on and on. Doing these little things will help you feel more productive over time and increase your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Think about what makes you feel good about yourself and makes you proud. Make a list and make one item from it every day. For example, here are some positive activities that can boost your self-esteem: Send a card to someone, play with the kids, donate money to charity, become a volunteer, take part in good deeds, go to the hairdresser, plant a tree, go shopping for an elderly neighbor. or call a friend who is going through a tough time. When this is done, praise yourself and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
Step 4. Make an extensive list of goals that you can focus on
Once you have identified your priorities and the specific areas you want to expand, you can write a list of relevant goals. They can be both large and small (at your discretion).
- Make sure each goal meets the SMART framework, namely Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-limited. An example of a SMART goal would be to run for one hour 3 times a week for the next month.
- There is also an option to arrange 15 goals or activities in a hierarchy. List activities from easiest to hardest. Start with the simpler first goal and work your way up to the hardest. A simple and easy goal might be walking the dog, and a global goal might be a promotion or a new job.
- Congratulate yourself for every tiny step you take as you move forward. Reward yourself for every step you take towards your goal. Indulge in a day at the spa, massage, special dinner, or whatever you like (which is safe and not drug or alcohol related).
Step 5. Evaluate your progress and make appropriate adjustments
The goals must constantly evolve. After completing one task, you can start setting new, more complex goals. If you notice that you are struggling to achieve something or you no longer feel like striving towards your goal, change the goal to something that you think will be more useful.
- Track your daily activities and goals on the calendar. This will help you stay on track and better remember important goals and objectives.
- Once you reach your goal, set yourself a new one! For example, if at first you wanted to lose 4 pounds and now want to lose a little more, focus on that. If you wanted to get more exercise but are bored with going to the same gym activities, consider going for a hike or running in the park.
- Try to think positively even during a recession. Say something to yourself like, “I was having a problem, but I’ll learn a lesson from this and will do better next time. I know I can do it! " If this helps you, you can even write this mantra down and say to yourself daily.
Method 2 of 4: Strengthen Positive Relationships
Step 1. Get professional support
When you are recovering from depression, it is especially important to get professional help so that the depressed state does not return, and if it does, it is not so bad. Therefore, if you are already undergoing treatment, keep working on your recovery plan.
- If you already have a therapist, talk to them about new goals that you would like to work on. Make sure to move forward and continue with your psychotherapy.
- If you don't have a therapist to help you treat your depression, try making an appointment. This can be helpful even if you are not feeling overwhelmed at the moment. A psychotherapist or psychologist can help reduce the likelihood of your condition getting worse by using specific psychotherapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Working with a professional will help change your mindset and contribute to your well-being in the long term.
- Continue seeing your treating psychiatrist and taking prescribed medications.
- Talk to your GP about your health, diet, and exercise.
Step 2. Seek help if addiction affects your life
Addiction can worsen the symptoms of depression, making it harder to recover. If you are addicted to psychotropic drugs, food, gambling or sex, if you suffer from shopaholism or eating disorders, or even physically harm yourself, you should seek the advice of an addiction specialist. It may be necessary to treat depression and addiction at the same time, as these things are often closely related.
- One way to get help is to talk to your psychiatrist or psychotherapist about the problem. If you are addicted to psychotropic substances, you will need to undergo treatment. Some psychotherapists specialize in drug addiction treatment so your doctor can refer you to the right specialist. Some addictions can be treated on an outpatient basis, while in other cases it is necessary to undergo a rehabilitation course in a hospital (drug treatment clinic or specialized rehabilitation center).
- You can also ask for help by joining the 12 Step program (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous or Drug Addicts).
- It takes time to get rid of any habit, but in the end it will be worth it. Plus, it will help support your overall health and reduce depression.
Step 3. Reestablish connections
At times, during a bout of depression, people lose touch with important friends, family members, and limit other interpersonal relationships. However, social support is very important for maintaining a life without depression, reducing the likelihood of depression recurrence, and recovering from difficult life situations.
- Send a friend an email, letter or text message and just ask how they are doing. Concentrate on the positive things that are happening in your life and ask questions.
- Call a friend and invite him to meet for lunch or coffee.
Step 4. Join a psychological support group
Social support, especially from others who are in the same situation, can be extremely helpful in recovering from depression and maintaining a healthy outlook.
Step 5. Make new friends
After depression, you may feel ready to develop new relationships, especially if you have abandoned destructive or unproductive friendships. By doing interesting things, you can meet people who are interested in the same things as you, and maybe even similar to you in temperament.
- Go to church, join a hobby group, a sports team, go to college, visit your local community center, charities, and more.
- Try registering at meetup.com/ru-RU/. This is a useful website for finding like-minded groups. For example, you can find solo groups, hiking groups, acting and rock climbing groups, and more.
- Can't find the group or club you're looking for? You can start your own! Try starting a book club. Inform friends and acquaintances, advertise in local libraries, and ask each person who wishes to participate in the club to bring a treat to the first meeting. Or you can start a fitness club, meet in the park and pay for a personal trainer by dividing the cost between the group members.
- Whenever you receive an invitation to go out, try to agree. The more often you say yes, the more invitations you will receive. Also, whenever a friend calls you to do something, invite him back somewhere next week. This will keep the balance and both of you feel important.
Method 3 of 4: Maintain Physical Health
Step 1. Treat medical health problems
Depression is sometimes associated with medical problems, including hyperthyroidism, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's syndrome. Depression can also be a side effect of the medications you are taking. Even if your physical illness is not the immediate cause of depression, it can still affect your mood if you feel bad and think negatively. It is difficult for a person to remain positive if they are in pain or physically unwell.
- See your doctor regularly if you have a chronic illness.
- If you notice an increase in depression that coincides with the time you start treatment with a new drug or other medical treatment, talk to your doctor.
- Take all your prescribed medications. It may take a while before the appropriate treatment is found for you. When you start feeling better, keep taking your medication as it will help keep you healthy.
Step 2. Concentrate on your daily activities
If a person is depressed, it may be difficult for a person to do normal daily activities, such as showering, keeping the house tidy, or following basic hygiene (washing or brushing teeth). Once you successfully overcome depression, you can begin to return to your normal life. Taking care of yourself will help you feel better and reduce the likelihood of your depression coming back. For example, if you stay in your pajamas all day, you may not feel the urge to leave the house and do something. However, if you take a long shower or bath, do your hair and put on makeup, and choose an outfit for your liking, you will feel much more energized and can survive the day.
Make a list of things you can do to take care of yourself. This can include washing clothes, buying new outfits, washing your hair, cutting your hair, or new styling
Step 3. Go in for sports
Physical activity can help prevent and reduce the symptoms of depression. As difficult as it can be to put on your sneakers and tighten your laces, you can feel ten times better after a workout (including emotionally) thanks to the endorphins your brain produces.
- Start with a ten minute walk, gradually working up to 20 minutes. Do this as often as possible and it will work wonders.
- If you're having a hard time finding motivation to exercise, try saying to yourself, "When I'm done, I'll feel better." Or decide to spend only 5-10 minutes on a bike or treadmill. Sometimes you just need to overcome yourself, get up and start moving, and after ten minutes you will feel the urge to run for another ten.
- As you challenge yourself to more challenging goals, you will feel how endorphins bring you pleasure after running, working out in the gym, or other aerobic exercise.
Method 4 of 4: Act Effectively to Prevent Depression Returning
Step 1. Manage your emotions in a positive way
Research suggests that people who have a history of depression are more likely to use emotion regulation that keeps them depressed. This type of emotion regulation is associated with the use of negative stress relieving strategies (these include, for example, alcohol abuse). This makes the depression worse, rather than relieving it.
Avoid deep thinking about the same thing. During this process, you replay the negative situation in your head over and over again. It seems to you that you are remembering an unpleasant event, trying to understand what exactly went wrong. However, in fact, this way of thinking only intensifies negative feelings and almost does not allow you to grasp the essence of events. Instead, try asking yourself, “What can I change? Can I change anything? " Make a list of small, easy goals related to things you can change. In addition, you can distract yourself from thoughts by going for a walk or playing sports
Step 2. Track negative thoughts and change them
Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time. However, the more negative thoughts you have in your head, the more depressed you may feel. This is because our thinking is strongly linked to our feelings. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, learn to resist it and develop a habit of positive thinking.
Treat your thoughts as hypothetical or passing ideas, not facts. For example, if you caught yourself thinking “Everything is bad. How I hate it!”, Question your view of the situation. This is called cognitive reappraisal. Is it that bad? Is it really that terrible or can you handle the problem? Is it possible to change your perspective on this or find a way to improve the situation? Tell yourself, “It's not that bad. Little pleasant, but I can overcome it. "
Step 3. Have positive internal dialogues
People who suffer from depression may get used to hating themselves or maintain a negative inner attitude. For example, a person constantly thinks, “I am bad. I am a loser. I am stupid". If you have such negative thoughts, it is likely that it will lead to negative emotions. Positive affirmations can be used to combat this thinking.
Example of a positive statement: “I try my best and that's enough for me. It doesn't have to be enough for someone else. "
Step 4. Do what makes you happy
Leisure and pleasure are important for a positive sense of self. Being active will increase your ability to cope with life situations that cause stress and depression.
Make a list of activities you enjoy and add them to your schedule daily. For example, you might plan to watch a movie, read a book, eat your favorite food, go for a walk, bubble bath, go to the library or museum, explore shop windows, buy fresh flowers, have dinner at a restaurant, or visit a hairdresser or beautician
Step 5. Concentrate on the good
Sometimes people with a history of depression find it difficult to focus on the positive aspects of their lives. That being said, the ability to focus on positive thoughts and activities can increase positive emotions and reduce depressed mood.
- One way to focus on positive things is to keep a diary of pleasant events, such as saving them as photographs or writing down your impressions. Just a couple of sentences about one good thing that happened in a day, or a photo of one thing that seemed interesting or cute to you is enough.
- Focusing on positive things is also associated with choosing appropriate activities that will boost your good mood. For example, choose the shows you watch carefully: don't watch the news or sad movies if you feel overwhelmed. Such a pastime will not be useful for a person who is already fixated on negative things in his life, and will only add fuel to the fire. Therefore, turn off the news and read a positive and inspiring book, and open the newspaper to the sports section or the chronicle of funny incidents.