Here we go again, you think to yourself.
It can feel like you’re starting to lose control of your mind and body. As if you’re on a rollercoaster without any way to stop the ride. I have experienced firsthand the scary spirals of depression and know how paralyzing it can feel.
What you do with those feelings of depression makes all the difference. Here are eight ways to reverse the downward spiral of depression and stop it in its tracks…
1. Awareness — The ability to recognize that you’re spiraling downward. This may seem super simple, but give yourself credit that you see and feel what is happening. This is the start of rising up out of it.
2. Catch the spiral as early as possible. In other words, it’s going to be more difficult the longer you wait to address it. It will slowly gain more power and control over you. Think of depression as an alarm going off — this needs to be addressed immediately.
3. Start by taking a look at your self-talk. Be aware of the negative thoughts (perhaps suicidal thoughts or compulsions) and know you need to change course and reframe these thoughts. Write them all down so you can see them for what they truly are: negative thinking patterns, self-loathing and lies with no ounce of truth in them.
4. When an episode of depression hits, tell someone close to you. No matter how hard it can be to admit these toxic thoughts, I want you to share them with someone. A family member, friend, or professional. They need to know to watch you carefully and help you make decisions for your care. *Book an immediate appointment and get on a cancellation list if you have ANY thoughts of suicide.
5. Prioritize the basics — sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Eating whole, nutritious foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables are very important. If you don’t have a gym membership, download a workout app to do yoga or bodyweight exercises at home. Moving your body every day will help distract your brain from those difficult thoughts of depression.
6. Eliminate all distractions from self-care. Turn off social media accounts. Be extra careful about what your entertainment choices are and what information you decide to consume. In other words, watching the news isn’t going to make you feel better. Pay attention to what you consume and how it impacts your mood. You may be surprised by what can potentially be a trigger when you’re in a fragile state of depression.
7. Journal your feelings and try to get to the root of what’s going on. How do you feel? What emotions are you experiencing? Any negative self-talk you can identify? Any idea what triggered these negative thoughts? Spend a lot of time digging into your mind. It can be helpful to see where your thinking patterns are coming from. A good therapist can also help you learn to reframe something difficult that happened as well as how to talk more kindly to yourself.
8. Start doing small things that bring you joy. Make a plan of three to five things you can start with. For me, I’ve said to myself, I’m going to eat a nutritious egg breakfast and a green fruit/veggie smoothie, then take my dog for a walk, meditate for 20 minutes, take a long shower, and make myself a hot cup of tea. If you feel stuck and don’t know where to start or feel too foggy to think of them, try making a list of what truly brings you joy. Nothing is too small.
If you’ve experienced depression before, what would you add to this list?