Fighting depression is a daily struggle. But it’s a struggle you’ve won every single day.
So far, you have made it through 100% of your worst days and that’s something to be proud of! Fighting depression makes you incredibly resilient. Every single day you are at the mercy of your inner demons and every single day you beat them just by waking up in the morning and goddamn surviving until it’s finally bedtime.
Sometimes though, there are days where the depression just pulls you under – and those days can easily turn into weeks, which can turn into months.
Fighting depression is exhausting and it’s easy to resort to bad habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms. In my post about bad habits that make depression worse, I talked about the devastating effects that bad habits can have on your mental health. This is why it’s so important for us to adopt healthy habits for fighting depression off every day – it prevents us from falling into unhealthy behaviours.
As a now twenty-something-year-old, I’ve learnt a lot about the day-to-day business of fighting depression. While positive thinking is extremely important and yes, there is always a bright side, on my bad days those flowery cliches make me want to watch the world burn.
By being observant, proactive and adopting healthy habits, we can begin to counteract some of depression’s symptoms and stop ourselves from sinking too deep into its depths.
Here are my top tips for kicking depression’s ass on the daily!
1. Complete One Goal Every Day
Every day I make it a mission to complete any one goal. Why? Because if I tick something off my list, it feels like a big ‘screw you’ to depression.
Using my self-care checklist, I make sure to complete at least one of these 70 self-care activities every day. To-do lists can be a little daunting, especially for a self-confessed commitment-phobe like me. This is why I make sure my goals are flexible and appropriate for any mood.
On my good days, my goals are super productive. Write a couple of thousand words? I got this. Try out an extravagant new recipe? No problem.
On my OK days, my goals are a little less lively. A few hundred words. Tackling the overflowing laundry basket. Making that phone call I’ve been putting off.
And on my bad days, my only goal may be to get out of bed, or have a shower, or eat at least two meals a day. A minuscule task? Maybe. A massive achievement? Definitely!
Only you know your body and what you’re capable of, and the point here is to push yourself to achieve something every single day, even if it’s something small.
2. Exercise (yes, even when you CBA!)
On those days when I just need to clear my head from the toxic thoughts before I drown in them, exercise works wonders. And I. Hate. Exercise.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise floods your brain with feel-good endorphins, encouraging both physical and psychological well-being. As an insomnia sufferer, I also reap the benefits of better-quality sleep. However, the truth is – finding the motivation to exercise when you feel like crap is so bloody hard.
It’s definitely a struggle for me to actually get going, and I have to be careful not to talk myself out of it, but exercise is brilliant for just forgetting about things for a while. Stick on The Eye of the Tiger and get jogging, gym-ing or even just brisk walking.
3. Make time for a hobby
It’s really, really important to hold onto the things that you enjoy, as we all know that depression can take away the pleasure of even our most treasured hobbies.
I find that doing activities I enjoy really takes my mind off the things that are troubling me. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog. However, it’s good to have multiple things to choose from if you like a bit of variety. Sometimes I just want to blast music and sing along. I also love to read novels because I can just immerse myself in somebody else’s head.
Whether it’s playing an instrument, drawing, or just simply relaxing in a nice, hot bath, focusing on something you like can clear your head and lift your spirits.
4. Do Something Social
I get it, social activities can feel like a chore. Sometimes they can even be the reason you feel so low in the first place. As someone who suffers from social anxiety and depression, I am no stranger to feeling as though I want to be alone. All. The. Time.
And yet, without social interaction my mental health plummets That’s because socialising is an excellent way to disengage yourself with negative thinking and rumination. Getting absorbed in a conversation that distracts you from the mess going on in your mind can be just as good as therapy, so try to commit to at least social activity a week – or more, if you need it.
5. Channel your emotions into a journal
I love this quote because it reminds me that true happiness is fleeting and often forgotten, lost forever in a passing moment.
Our brains are way too good at retaining the negative experiences and filtering out the positive. How many times have you had that horrible feeling of “I can’t remember the last time I was happy”? As a person suffering from chronic depression, I know I have. But the thing is, it simply isn’t true!
Journaling is so positive for your mental health. Writing your feelings down really helps you to confront them – and recording happy moments will help you to remember them! Remind yourself that you’ve experienced good times before and you will do again by recording the little things that make you smile!
If you need some help on how to start to mental health journal, these 10 mental health journaling techniques from The Positive Author can help you get started. You can also download my free anxiety workbook.
6. Use The 5-Second Rule
How many times have you told yourself that you’re going to get up and do that thing you really need to do, but an hour later find you’re still sitting in the same spot?
How many times have you been curled up in a low mood, knowing that you need to get up and do something, anything, to get out of this rut, and yet you just can’t?
This is one of my favourite healthy habits for fighting depression and it’s probably the one I find myself using most frequently. It’s an amazing little tip that I picked up from Mel Robbins’ blog: her theory that “If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.” So, once you’ve established what it is that you want to do, you count down from 5,4,3,2,1 – and on 1 you go, even if your brain is screaming at you to stay put. Even if your body is trying to resist. You go.
I’m not going to lie, this one is hard as hell and some days it’s more difficult than others. It’s all about slowly training yourself to be proactive and break bad habits, which helps to manage depression.
It’s also a great tactic for getting my ass out of bed in the morning!
So remember – there are days when a dozen warm, loveable puppies could come bounding through the door and you’d tell them all to fuck off. That’s OK. Sometimes we just need a moment to stew in our misery – just try not to stew for too long!
Do you have any other helpful tips for fighting depression? Please leave a comment below!