5 Solid Ideas to Pull You Out of a Depressive Episode
Updated: Mar 30
If you're anything like me, fighting the monster of depression is no joke. When you are in the midst of a depressive episode, it can sap your strength, energy, and motivation to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Research has shown that depressed people have a harder time going to work, making plans with friends, or even cleaning their houses. I know that I personally have little to no energy to do much of anything when I'm in a depressive episode, and have found very little that helps me to stay on top of tasks when I'm drowning.
So I have compiled a list of things that have genuinely helped me to get through my day when things seem bleak and overwhelming. By no means am I saying this is a cure-all, but rather of a list of ideas to help you tackle your mountain of laundry, or motivate you to put on a shirt before your Zoom meeting at 3:00.
Avoid Feeding Your Depression
I know, this is a hard thing to do when you're in the middle of it, but it's important not to dwell on the thoughts and fears that are driving your depressive episode. Think of it this way. If you keep throwing bread crumbs into the parking lot behind your house, birds are going to show up to have lunch. If you keep throwing those crumbs, by the end of the week you are the bird lady from Mary Poppins, but without the catchy song, covered in birds with nothing left to give. It's the same concept here. Try your best to not focus on those negative thoughts and feelings that have got control of you. Instead, attempt to isolate the feeling, and journal about it, or talk about it out loud to someone who can listen. Taking away the power of our negative thoughts is the first step in recognizing the triggers that send us spiraling.
2. Try to Focus on the Task at Hand
This one is easier said than done because depression robs us of the here-and-now moments. Depression causes our inner gerbil wheel to be constantly spinning with negative thoughts, and by focusing on whatever the current task is, it can take you out of your head for a few glorious moments. When you're doing the dishes for example, try to focus on the feel of the water on your hand, the sound of the dishes clinking together, or the motion of drying them with a dish towel. This can help center your thoughts if only for a couple of minutes and help break the toxic thought cycle that keeps you trapped.
3. Make a Choice
If you're anything like me when you're in the middle of a depressive episode, or stuck in your anxiety, you stop trusting even your own instincts and thoughts. Not to mention the fact that the simple task of making a choice in the first place seems akin to hiking Everest in your underwear. To combat this, make it a goal to just make simple choices throughout your day. Even if it's just choosing whether to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream or which creamer to put in your morning coffee. Trusting your own decision-making power will give you little but much-needed boosts of confidence. It will also help to circumvent the toxic cycle of stewing over choices and get you one step closer to coming back to live in the world instead of being trapped by your depression.
4. Make Sure to Stay in Contact
When you're depressed, you struggle to do much of anything, which as a natural result leads you to be more isolated and alone. So while you're trying to do the dishes or make dinner or even take a shower, you should try to remain in contact with friends and family. Make sure to text your sister back, or return that phone call from your best friend. Keeping in contact with other people and not staying stuck in your isolation helps more than staying in bed. (As tempting as that is)
5. Set Messages Aside for Now
On the flip side of staying in contact with loved ones, overwhelm is real, and having a constant stream of emails, texts, and alerts can become overwhelming. Difficulty concentrating is a symptom of depression, and having your phone constantly going off can start to wear on your nerves. If this is a challenge for you, turn your phone on silent and walk away. Set aside a few times during the day that you check your messages to make sure you're staying on top of the important things, but ignore it and focus on folding that laundry, or making sure your kids get fed. The world won't come to a halt if you don't check your email the minute it comes to your inbox.
The important takeaway from all of these tips is to only engage in what you feel you can handle, but definitely try to stay connected. Isolation is depression's best friend, and if you can manage to stay connected to the world, if only for a few minutes a day, it will greatly assist in pulling you out of your depressive episode.
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