Depression is that terrible feeling of nothingness that can fill you with despair. If you’ve experienced depression, you know the feeling all too well. There’s the terrible lack of pleasure which haunts you. Old hobbies feel meaningless. You no longer want to socialise. You feel as though the future will be no better than the present. You might even feel as though you are inadequate. These thoughts make you feel sad or irritable.
Depression comes with physical symptoms too. You experience changes in sleep or appetite. You feel lethargic, as though you have no energy. When you feel at your worst, it seems as though you’ll never get better. However, like any illness, there are things you can do. Here are some ways that you may be able to set yourself on a path towards healing.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Depression takes a long time to build up Writer Bill Poltkin explains that depression is not about too much emotion, but a backlog of emotions that haven’t been felt. Allow yourself to feel. Whatever comes up for you, whether it be anger, irritability or sadness, write it down. You can use a journal, write poetry or even draw. However, if you feel overwhelmed, share with a therapist. A therapist will create a safe space for you to experience your emotions in an empathic setting, enabling you to feel listened to. You won’t feel judged. This is particularly helpful if you feel self-critical.
Eat Fermented Foods
Depression is often linked to a lack of serotonin. Serotonin is manufactured in the gut, which is why the gut is often referred to as our second brain. By including fermented foods, such as kefir, sourdough bread, ginger beer, yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, or kimchi, your body will be able to produce more serotonin. If you don’t like some of the foods, don’t worry. Keep trying with those you do like. This will enable you to build up a couple of foods that you do enjoy. Add these to your diet as often as you can.
Move Your Body
The last thing you want to do when you feel depressed is get up and go outside. However, exercise can help you recover, building up serotonin, and getting you out into the sunshine and fresh air. Some depressions such as SAD, occur during winter and are related to a lack of sunshine. Gentle exercise such as a long, gentle walk or an easy swim can help your body to recover. If you feel more energetic, you can dance. The vibrancy of the music will help you to feel better. Whatever your choice, try not to sit still. While you exercise, your body will release endorphins, which will help you to feel better.
Spend Time in Nature
Ecotherapy explains that even during times of terrible crisis, people are able to feel a deep sense of belonging or connection in nature. This will help you to feel as though you are a part of the world again, as a vital and physical being. Take time to sit under a tree with your journal or sketchbook. Go for a walk and count the different coloured flowers. Watch a spider spin his web, or listen to the birds singing. You could even watch the ebb and flow of the water, which shows you how thoughts or feelings move on, changing and transforming as you too will change and transform.
Look After Yourself
Depression is often a result of giving out too much energy. Take time to care for yourself, even if this means doing one thing a day which nurtures you. Take a warm bath. Wear your favourite soft clothes. Use a scent or fragrance which makes you feel special. Cook your favourite foods. Watch movies, or listen to music that allows you to feel. Most of all, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself the time to heal. Explore what you’d like for your life, and what this crisis is telling you. Meditate, and listen to your own inner voice.
No matter how badly you feel at the moment, there are ways to overcome depression. Remind yourself that no matter how terribly you feel, this too shall pass. You will get better.