What are Some of the Best Coping Skills for Depression?


Do you start to mentally flail around wildly when you get depressed? Are you looking for the cause or reason for your depression? Do you just want to feel better as quickly as possible?


Sometimes, when depression starts to take hold again, we don't realize right away that it is our symptoms coming back. We start to blame external circumstances for our feelings, instead of realizing it is all about our brain chemistry.


It's easy to fall into the blame trap, either blaming ourselves or our circumstances for how we feel.


This isn't helpful, and it doesn't make us feel better. Blame just makes our problems get worse.


When we blame, it makes us feel like some external source is responsible for our problems, instead of taking responsibility for them ourselves.


As we take responsibility for our feelings of depression, we are better able to cope with them and find ourselves feeling better again.


There are several different ways that we can use to cope when we are feeling down and depressed that will help to break through the layers of the funk that you are feeling.


Behavioral Activation


One of the therapies recommended most often for depression is called Behavioral Activation. This is a long and fancy name for a philosophy that boils down to this: When you don't feel like doing something, get up and do it anyway.


According to Psychology Tools,

When we are depressed we become less active. The less active we are the fewer opportunities there are for positive and rewarding things to happen to us. And the fewer rewarding things that happen to us the lower our mood becomes. Behavioral Activation (BA) is one way out of this vicious cycle. It is a practical and evidence-based treatment for depression.

When you get up and start doing things, keeping busy can help you get endorphins going in your body. It also keeps your mind busy as well, instead of ruminating on negative thoughts.


There are always tasks around the house that need to be done, and you can get a feeling of accomplishment from tackling something off of your to-do list.


Depending on how low you are feeling, it can be as simple as remembering to brush your teeth, doing the dishes or laundry, or clearing off the table. It doesn't have to be something huge.


Just be sure to give yourself credit for actually getting up and making yourself do something, even when you didn't feel like it.


You don't have to be tackling your whole usual to-do list, it can be more simple than that. The important part is that you are up and moving. This can give you a sense of accomplishment.


Be sure to celebrate even your small wins. Reward yourself for a job well done. You can do this by making yourself a special snack, or doing an activity that you really like. But however you reward yourself, make sure that you take time to mentally congratulate yourself for getting up and moving. It really makes a big difference.


Gratitude


When we are depressed, it can be easy to lose sight of things that are going well, or to write them off and take them for granted.


By making a gratitude list, you can bring yourself back to the things that are actually good in your life.


If you take time to do a journal session, and write out 3-5 things that you are grateful for in the morning, or before you go to bed, this can help to lift your mood.


It may seem difficult to find things to be grateful for when you are deeply depressed, but there is always something. It can be simple, like having food on your table and a warm house.


You can also be grateful for your family, your job, or your pets.


Anything that is good about your life is something that can be celebrated. By making a list of things that you are grateful for, it can help to rewire your brain for happiness.


Self Care


It is important to make extra time for self-care when you are feeling really depressed. Being kind and gentle with yourself can make a big difference in how you feel each day.


There are all different kinds of self-care activities that you can engage in to feel better. The most important part is that you are doing something just for yourself that brings you pleasure.


Here are some ideas for self-care activities when you are feeling depressed:

  • Make a warm cup of tea or coffee

  • Take a hot bath or shower

  • Take a nap

  • Read a good book

  • Practice yoga, meditation or mindfulness

  • Skincare routine

  • Exercise

  • Journal

  • Go for a walk

  • Do a crossword puzzle

  • Spend time in nature

  • Call a friend or family member

The most important thing about self-care is that you are honoring yourself and your needs each day. When you do this, it lets you know that you are a beautiful and valuable person.


By practicing self-care, it lets you know that it is OK to care about yourself, and take care of your needs. It reinforces the idea that your needs are important.


Often, especially when we are depressed, we don't feel like our needs are valid. This is a way of enforcing a positive, opposite message mentally.


Talk to a Therapist or Coach


If you are feeling down and depressed, it is important to get professional help, as these feelings do not always go away on their own. Having a supportive professional on your side can go a long way towards talking through your problems and developing your coping skills.


It is helpful to know that you have someone who is on your side, and that you aren't dealing with your problems all on your own.


Going to therapy or working with a life coach is a great way to work through your mental health issues, so that you will learn new skills and eventually feel stronger.


You may also be prescribed medications to help with your depression, since depression is often caused by problems with your brain chemistry. If your depression is not getting better quickly, this is an option that you may want to explore.


Talk to your therapist or coach about which options may be right for you. If you are being prescribed medications, you will likely need to visit a psychiatrist as well.


Conclusion


When you are feeling depressed, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down around you. In order to start feeling better, it's important to work on cultivating better coping skills for your depression.


Some good coping skills include:

  • Behavioral Activation

  • Gratitude

  • Self-Care

  • Therapy or coaching

All of these coping skills, especially practiced together, can go a long way towards helping you heal your depression, and come out on the other side of a depressive episode.


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