It is normal to sometimes feel “down,” tired, overwhelmed, or tearful. It is especially common to have such periods during the months of the year with less sunlight given the reduced natural Vitamin D. However, such a state should not be continuous. And, there are things that can be done to feel better if you feel depressed.
Even if you’re not comfortable using the formal clinical word “depression,” it’s important to make an effort to help yourself feel better and get back to normal. You deserve it. Here are several ideas. Take them and run with them or experiment with what you know has worked for you in the past.
Get some exercise – Although often the last thing we want to do when we are feeling down is to exercise, when is the last time that you exercised and did not feel in a better mood afterwards? Exercise releases healthy endorphins that can work as our body’s natural anti-depressants. Exercise can also help increase our energy, self-esteem, and body image. So, do something you like, even if it’s a brief walk around your neighborhood or having a dance party in your living room.
Be social – Although all we may want do is curl into a ball and isolate ourselves when feeling depressed, the last thing we need is more isolation! We need healthy social interaction! So, reach out to loved ones and schedule something, even if it’s just a simple date for coffee. Maybe consider sharing with them that you are struggling emotionally so that they can help reach out to you and encourage you to interact more outside of your home.
Connect with a furry friend – It is hard to not get a flood of positive emotions when around cute puppies or kittens. So, take a page out of nature’s book and find a way to interact with animals that make you smile. Research has shown that interacting with or even petting animals releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. So, get your daily dose of dog to help with your mood.
Eat right – I know. The last thing we feel motivated to do is to do the work to eat healthy when we are feeling depressed. But, recent research is linking the health of our gut (now called the “Second Brain” by researchers) to depressive symptoms. Dr. David Perlmutter documents in his book “Brain Maker” that patients immediately demonstrated depressive symptoms when their healthy gut biochemistry was intentionally compromised and inflammatory markers that accompany an unhealthy diet were increased. Since we are what we eat, offer yourself some healthy fuel.
Do something just for you – Feeling down is hard enough. Find and do something that brings you joy. Take a bubble bath with candles. Make a warm cup of tea. Watch your favorite funny movie. Allow yourself joy even if you don’t feel like it in the moment.
The above are some suggestions to get you started. But, above all, you should know that depression affects the brain. So, if your symptoms persist or become as severe as thinking about harming or even killing yourself, it is time to seek help from a professional or even go to the emergency room. Find a therapist or a doctor who specializes in mental health. You can also consider antidepressant medication but also make sure that you connect with a professional who can help you learn what to do when you feel depressed, getting to the root of what is causing you to feel depressed in order to help you treat the cause; not just the symptoms.
Ashley Carter Youngblood is a psychotherapist and Certified Mental Health Integrated Medicine Provider at Inner Peace Counseling, PLC in Kalamazoo. Her specialties include women’s issues, anxiety, holistic healing, and mindfulness. Find out more about her at her website, www.kalamazoo-counseling.com