06 Nov Depressed? Be Gentle & Kind to Yourself
Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, irritability, body aches, distraction, and loss of sex drive.
“Lost my something and I can’t get it back,” sings Emily Saliers on her song Fill it Up Again. Have you ever felt that way? This song has always felt like a really accurate illustration of depression. It may be about a lost love, but depression feels a lot like lost love. Loss of love for life, self, and activities that used to bring joy.
Depression is a message from our bodies and psyche that we need to slow down for a moment. Interestingly, there can be great insight gained when we quiet and listen to the impact that the pace of our life and the quality of our relationships are having on us.
Be gentle and kind to yourself so you can “fill it up again” and be back to feeling like yourself. Specifically, this is not the time to berate yourself for not getting over it quick enough or for being too tired and slow. It can be an especially hard time if you are a high-functioning person.
When does depression hit for you? Is it seasonal, tied to overwork, the anniversary of a life event, or about disconnection in a relationship? Knowing what is triggering depression is a first step. Remember that depression lifts eventually for most people. Therefore, you don’t have to be afraid of it.
Practice Being Gentle & Kind to Depression
- Self-Compassion: Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. When you are depressed, it’s easy to slip into old, familiar criticisms of yourself (too lazy, too forgetful, too out of shape, blah, blah). Please stop that dialogue.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Just 5-10 minutes a day before you take a shower (yes, take that shower), this will help with focus and mood. Learn to observe your thoughts instead of obsessing. Try an app like Calm or Headspace.
- Journal: Write whatever you want for as little or as long as you want. Get those worries and feelings onto the page. Don’t worry about grammar. Just write. Do it again the next day if you feel like it. The act of writing your feelings helps you to get them out of your head. Thoughts are materialized instead of hanging around inside like ghosts.
- Nap: Set a timer so you don’t sleep the day away. Get some extra rest. Your brain and body are tired.
- Exercise: Get moving in whatever way feels manageable to you. Walk, bike, hike, jump rope outside or at a gym so you’re around others. Research has proven time and time again that exercise is a successful method for decreasing symptoms of depression.
- Get together with a Friend: You may not feel like socializing a lot right now. Don’t isolate yourself completely. A lunch or a movie with someone who cares about you makes a difference even if the difference is just a break from your depression.
- Find a Therapist: An objective person that can listen, support and guide without telling you to “think positive” or “snap out of it” can be very healing. A therapist can help you practice new techniques and be present while you process life events that are at the root of your sadness or grief so that you can “get your something back” and get back to being you.
You Aren’t Alone
Finally, know that you are not alone. Approximately, 8% of Americans, 12 and over, had moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks. Nearly half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Both of which are highly treatable.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.