In this modern world of Instagram/Pinterest perfection, it often feels like a badge of honor to never admit when you’re struggling.
Especially as a blogger.
Like — somehow you’re supposed to smile and bounce around like you’re the happiest person on the planet, even if your insides are crumbling. Seriously?
The truth is, for the last few months (and especially the last few weeks since my Nana passed away), I’ve been struggling with the strongest bout of depression I’ve ever had as an adult. Even the depression I felt after watching my Dad suffer for 14 grueling months until he passed away when I was 22 can’t compare.
Not to get TOO real here but the truth is I’ve only got three direct living blood relatives left. My family has changed dramatically in my 20s and, now that I’m less than 2 years away from turning 30, I’m realizing just how different the next decade of my life will be.
And I’ll be honest, my future is missing a lot of the family I expected to have there with me.
Blogging has always been a positive outlet for me, bringing me a wealth of joy and happiness. But lately the pressures of trying to “up my Instagram game”, “produce sparkling new innovative content”, and keep up with my four freelance jobs has taken its toll.
I’m not sleeping. I’m not even eating that much (and I’m a foodie… that’s how you KNOW something is wrong). And, to top it off, one of Hubby and I’s closest friends just told us he’s moving to Portland.
It’s a lot of change and I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been dealing with it effectively. I’ve let it run its course and have reaped the predictable outcomes of succumbing to my sadness.
And for a while I said nothing. I continued on with “business as usual”, keeping up with my editorial calendar here on the blog and my professional deadlines like nothing was wrong.
It wasn’t until earlier this week that I opened up to a close friend about my emotional exhaustion. Instead of judging me as a failure for not having my life perfectly in order, she surprised me by confessing that she too was suffering from a strong bout of depression for no reason. She mentioned how many people she’d spoken with who had said the exact same thing and suddenly I realized — I’m not struggling alone.
For those of you suffering from the blues, from sadness, from disappointment, from heartache, today’s post is for you (and for me too — I will admit writing about your problems does a lot for making them feel more manageable).
It pains me to see strong, beautiful women brought low with depression. So today’s post is for all of us who are silently suffering and especially for those afraid to admit it.
These are the methods I turn to to persevere and [hopefully] prosper during times of emotional drain, inner turmoil, and grief. The methods that effectively help me cope with such a complicated, multi-layered emotion. The VERY methods I’ve been (almost purposefully) forgetting these last few weeks…
MEDICAL NOTE: Please remember that none of this is qualified medical advice so always seek the help of a true professional if you’re case is severe!
10 Effective Ways To Deal With Depression
1. Get Rest.
This one probably seems like a no-brainer. But if you’re an insomniac like me, it’s the very first thing you should tackle when depressed. Exhaustion fuels the worst emotions in us. It encourages the raging storm inside, feeding the mental exhaustion with physical exhaustion too. It’s a universal truth that a healthier body makes a healthier mind and nothing makes the body healthier than PLENTY of rest.
Have trouble sleeping when you’re depressed? I hate to take sleep aids unless I have to so I’m always looking for more natural alternatives. I’ve been drinking a cup or two of Lemon Balm Tea before bed and that’s been making a HUGE difference. And, after my positive results drinking Brain Dust these last few weeks, I strongly suspect the sleep-aid Goodnight Dust blend might be helpful too.
Yet another obvious piece of advice but one that needs to be shared regardless. The first thing I do when I’m depressed is stop taking care of myself. And not properly hydrating with something besides coffee is my downfall. Dehydration really does exacerbate any and all depressive symptoms.
FORCE yourself to hydrate if you have to — make up a game or regulate yourself if necessary. I’ve made a rule to always drink two 8 oz glasses of water before my coffee in the morning and it’s made a world of difference. Plus proper hydration leads to radiant skin — a side-effect that certainly helps with depression too!
My least favorite item on this list but probably the MOST effective method for alleviating depression. When you’re depressed, it can be really hard to motivate yourself to workout. And when you don’t care about yourself it shows! Your energy drops, your muscles disappear… a whole slew of side-effects pop up that make you feel like utter and complete crap. Which in turn fuels more depression.
It’s a vicious cycle.
So, in the immortal words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
Exercise your pain and frustrations away. Start small, with a walk outside (long walks boost creativity too), but force yourself to MOVE. When my Dad passed away I would often retreat to an empty stairwell in my office building and just climb UP and DOWN. It’s a weird technique but it really worked for me. Just simply moving your body has such a reviving effect on the mind.
4. Orange Oil.
I use essential oils daily. I depend on lavender oil to help me relax and peppermint oil to scare away spiders (I put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and spritz it around our old floorboards and drains — works like a charm!).
But the oil I use most is without a doubt wild orange oil. I’ve been using it for well over two years now and have become pretty dependent on it. I even carry little vials around with me when I travel!
Because this is one seriously powerful essential oil. Not only will orange oil invigorate you with its zesty citrus notes, it’ll boost your positivity and your mindset. I like to think of whiffing orange oil as pressing a mental reset button. And it’s has an alarmingly positive effect on creativity too. I carry it around to my shoots and always apply it right before I begin. Maybe it’s a placebo effect but I swear the shoots when I forget my orange oil always turn out the worst!
Boost your positivity, your creativity, and your energy in less than 2 seconds. Carry around a vial of orange oil when you’re out, and diffuse it next to your desk at home or at work. It’ll shock you what a difference it makes!
5. Do Something New.
Novelty helps us forget ourselves. It forces us to get out of our typical routine and see life from a new perspective. As John Keating reminds us while standing on a desk in Dead Poet’s Society, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
Always be seeking new experiences and new opportunities. Especially when you’re too depressed to want to. Travel. Visit a museum. Take a long walk down a new street. Teach yourself to knit. Try cooking something new (Hubby says my Mashed Pea & Scrambled Egg Tartines always make him feel better).
Just make sure it’s novel to you!
6. Prioritize Fun.
Battling depression has a lot to do with changing your mental perspective. And while I’ll be the first one to say that telling yourself “be happy” does little to help, tricking yourself into a more positive mental space is sometimes all you need to get out of a funk.
So I always remind myself “have you done something fun today?”. I almost force myself to prioritize fun. I’ll ask Hubby to make an impromptu pillow fort in the middle of our living room. I’ll tickle Apollo’s tail until he starts chasing it in a wild, endless circle. I’ll seek out as much fun as I can find and when I can’t find it, I make it.
And the more fun you have, the more you’ll be reminded that life is a series of ups and downs, and no depressive spell will last forever.
7. Vitamin C.
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. And one technique I’ve found to be particularly effective for me is to up my intake of Vitamin C when I’m depressed.
Sometimes all I need is an infusion of vitamins to feel like myself again. And while I could give you all the medical reasons why Vitamin C can be helpful with depression, this article says it all for me.
Don’t like the idea of taking another pill everyday? Adult gummies are just as effective and FAR more fun to take.
8. Start a Routine.
Routines are comforting — they give us direction and purpose when we feel lost. While you should always be seeking out new experiences (duh, #5!), doing so within a structured routine can be quite a powerful combination.
Routines substantially reduce our anxiety which in turn helps reduce depression. They tell us what we need to be doing and when. On days when you’re especially depressed, a routine helps you to go on auto-pilot. And while auto-pilot is not exactly ideal, it’s far more preferable to closing yourself in your bedroom with the curtains drawn for a week straight.
Which can sometimes happen if your depression is strong enough.
Give your day a little structure — try doing the same things at the same time every day like responding to emails in the afternoon, or taking your puppy to the park in the morning. You’re not locking yourself into a set schedule, just giving yourself a flexible framework to structure your day with.
9. Set Goals.
Think towards the future. Deep down I’m embarrassed by my depression because I know that the family members I’ve lost these past six years would be upset with me for it. They wouldn’t want me to live in the past. They’d want me to reach for the future, to set goals — BIG ones — and to plan for the life they were so instrumental in helping me create.
Setting goals forces you to ask the most important question to ask when you’re depressed: WHAT DO I WANT?
Ask yourself, what does a happy future look like for you. Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years? What steps can you take today to start moving in that direction?
No one knows you better than you know yourself. Evaluate what you WANT out of life, not just what you GET out of life. The first step to finding happiness is evaluating what happiness is to you and integrating that mindset into your day-to-day life.
Set goals. Set BIG goals. And don’t you dare think to yourself “I’ll never achieve this” when you write them down. 10. Hug a Pug.
Life is better with a pug. I firmly believe having two pugs has substantially decreased the severity of my depression these last few weeks.
It’s just so hard to be blue around a pug. They’re the dorks of the canine world! They’re ridiculously enthusiastic, unconditionally loving, and absolutely hilarious to look at. And so much FUN to have around.
The main reason pugs are so useful in aiding depression in particular though is two-fold — because they love the attention and cuddles you give JUST AS MUCH as you do, and because they have rolls. Yup, big giant fur rolls you can bury your fingers into. Don’t ask me why it works but it does. I’ve never seen someone bury their fingers in a pug roll and not LOVE it. And feel happier after.
What can I say — while the healing touch of a furry pug roll may sound ridiculous to you — I’ve witnessed first-hand just how potent it can be on the mind.
Don’t have immediate access to a pug (FYI Apollo is always available for pug therapy!)? Head down to your nearest animal shelter and hug the animals there. It’ll be good for them and even better for you.
Dealing with depression is a complicated and scary endeavor. And it takes time to heal and recover from it.
For those of you out there struggling with depression don’t be afraid — you aren’t alone. Dealing with real life issues can be so over-whelming but hopefully these 10 tips will help you get on the right-track!