Everyone has a bad day now and then, but depression can make every day a bad day. Depression feels like a hopeless loop of endless negative thoughts that sap your vitality and your motivation and can make the very thought of doing something that you know could help you feel better to seem too exhausting or impossible.It can be so debilitating that it becomes physically disabling. Even simple things like walking around the block or picking up the phone to call a friend may feel like more than you can handle. This makes overcoming depression much more difficult.
“[Depression] essentially hijacks the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that enables us to use logic and think clearly, and shapes our thoughts and worldviews to be incredibly negative and hopeless.” – Max Maisel, Ph.D.
Although you can’t just will yourself to snap out of depression, there are ways to break through it. The following are some positive things you can do that will help boost your mood and increase your energy. Do as many of them as you can each day.
If you are consistent and keep on keeping on even when you don’t feel motivated or in the mood to do so, it will get easier and you will, in time, feel the heavy cloud of depression start to lift, and feel happier, healthier, and more hopeful to boot. It may be difficult at first, but difficult does not mean impossible. Just take that first step.
Overcoming depression one baby step at a time
Find small ways to be of service to others. Doing something for someone, being a volunteer, brightening someone’s day by giving them a compliment, or even just smiling and being kind can all boost your mood and be of help in overcoming depression.
Care for a pet. Caring for a pet can provide companionship, as well as give you a sense of being needed.
Simplify your life. Depression can strip away the structure of your life and make you feel as though you can’t accomplish anything. Setting small, realistic goals for yourself that do not seem overwhelming, and that gives you a sense of accomplishment when you complete them can help you feel better about yourself.
Do something you enjoy. Although you can’t force yourself to have fun, you can push yourself to do something you used to enjoy.
Don’t isolate. Reach out for support, and spend time with people who lift you up.
Join a support group. Being part of a support group with others who are also dealing with depression can lessen your sense of isolation and be a source of encouragement and hope.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to look for things to be thankful for and start a gratitude journal of all your blessings. “Learn to love the life you have and not the one you wish you had” (Brooks Gibbs).
Stay in the moment. Tune in to the voices in your mind, and make a concerted effort to consistently interrupt and redirect any harsh, judgmental negative scripts. Think of the things that went well in your day and what you are doing right, instead of focusing on what went wrong and/or on your supposed failures.
Challenge depressing thoughts. Your thoughts can have a powerful influence on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Depression casts everything in a negative light, causing you to jump to the worst conclusions. There are, however, multiple ways of seeing things. Don’t mistake distorted thought patterns for reality. Practice challenging them instead, and replacing them with a more positive, realistic perspective.
“I’m the boss of my feelings. No one can hurt them without my permission.” – Brooks Gibbs
Eat healthy. The foods you eat can influence certain chemicals in your brain that regulate your mood and impact how you feel. A healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet which consists of anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains is thought to be effective in overcoming depression, whereas processed foods, sugar, and caffeine can have a detrimental effect and should be avoided as much as possible.
Get moving. Exercise is a powerful antidote for depression. Physical activity of any kind stimulates the release of endorphins, which can decrease stress and improve your energy. Although even the thought of it may seem daunting at first, if you stick with it, you will feel less fatigued, your mood will improve, and you will feel glad you did it.
Spend time outside. Get out in the sun and spend time in nature. Sunlight has been shown to help boost serotonin levels, which in turn can improve your mood.
Get enough sleep. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Too much sleep or too little can harm your mood.
Find things to laugh about. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:2, ESV). Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which have the effect of reducing stress and promoting an overall feeling of wellbeing, which is a great help in overcoming depression.
Give yourself grace. Depressive symptoms ebb and flow. Some days will be difficult, while others may be great. If you’re having a down day, remind yourself that today isn’t indicative of tomorrow.
Consider seeking professional help. A trained mental health professional can help you understand and work through the issues you are dealing with, and show you how to find better ways of coping with and solving problems. Two of the most common techniques used to do this are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.
Common techniques for overcoming depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a short-term, purposeful form of talk therapy based on the premise that negative feelings and behaviors are the results of current beliefs and distorted thought patterns rather than of subconscious forces from the past.
It aims to help you understand this connection and teach you how to identify unhealthy ways of thinking that are affecting your mood, beliefs about yourself, and view of life in general, and challenge them in order to reduce their power over you. Learning how to restructure depressive thoughts in a more positive, realistic way will enable you to take control and respond to life’s stressors in a more balanced, healthy way
Interpersonal therapy (IPT). Interpersonal therapy is a short-term therapy option that focuses on your interactions with other people. Its premise is that the quality of your relationships and emotional support system can have a huge impact on your mental health. IPT counselors work with you to improve your communication and social skills and learn how to build healthy relationships.
Christian counseling for depression
Christian counseling involves a combination of Biblical principles and clinical intervention. If you are struggling with depression and are having trouble handling the process on your own, please give us a call today. We would be happy to answer your questions and/or set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you manage the challenges you are facing and walk you through the healing process.
Brooks Gibbs (April 24, 2022). Sermon: Healing the Hurting Heart, https://www.brooksgibbs.com/blog/.
Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. (July 2021). Laughter is the Best Medicine, HelpGuide.org.
Madeline Kennedy (December 4, 2020). The foods that fight depression and keep you happy, Insider.com,
Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. (October 2021). Coping with Depression, HelpGuide.org.
Sebastian Gendry. Help For Depression: Laugh to Activate Happy Feelings! Laughter Online University, https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/help-for-depression/.
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