Depression can affect anyone, including men.
It looks and feels different to every person who struggles with it.
When you’re depressed, you might lack motivation or interest in things, feel sad and struggle to see the positives, or have difficulty focusing or remembering things. Overall, when you’re depressed, you’re usually unable to function in ways that you usually would.
Making good lifestyle choices can have a positive effect on depression by helping you build resilience towards it, alleviate the feelings of it, and hopefully overcome it.
Taking care of your body
If you’re struggling with depression, it’s important to take care of your body. Making conscious decisions about what you eat, how much sleep you get, getting enough physical activity, and being present can all affect the symptoms of depression you may be feeling.
- Eat nutritious meals
Eating healthy food is so important for our mental well-being. When you properly fuel your body, you feel better. Your brain consumes up to 20 percent of your daily calorie intake, so it’s essential to feed your brain for it to work optimally. Make sure you’re eating foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, antioxidants, and fish, all of which have been associated with a decreased risk of depression.
- Physical activity
Movement and physical activity can help take your mind off of life’s stresses and redirect your energy to something more positive. It also changes some of the chemistry in your brain and increases positive endorphins, which can improve your mood. If you find that you don’t have the motivation to exercise, try breaking it down into smaller steps, like going for a five or 10-minute walk. Every little bit counts and you’ll start to feel good about what you’re doing and have a sense of accomplishment.
- Get enough sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your mental health. No one can function well when they don’t get enough sleep. If you’re depressed, your sleeping patterns are often affected. Either you can’t sleep or you sleep too much, which can make you feel unproductive or unmotivated. Make sure you’re getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and try to limit your screen time before bed.
One of the characteristics of depression is the tendency to think negatively about yourself, your experiences, and the future. Mindfulness can help with your depression by allowing you to be more aware of your thoughts and stand back to observe them instead of attaching meaning to them. Your thoughts are just thoughts, they’re not facts. Mindfulness helps you focus less on the negatives and shifts your focus to more positive things.
Mindfulness doesn’t always have to be a lengthy activity. It can be a conscious effort to be mindful for the next 5-minutes, or even the next 30-seconds. Just take the time to focus on being present. Think about your surroundings. What can you hear? What can you feel?
When you’re depressed, oftentimes you can lean towards self-isolation. Maybe you don’t feel like reaching out to friends or family, but it’s important to try to work against those feelings. Social connections can help prevent depression from getting worse and help you move through it. Since spending time with friends and family helps you perceive yourself and your experiences differently, it can also act as a distraction and make you feel good.
Finding Meaning and Purpose
When you’re depressed, you tend to focus on yourself and might have a hard time seeing that you’re part of something bigger. Finding a sense of meaning and purpose in your life can decrease feelings of depression and help you progress through it because it allows you to see that you are part of something bigger. It also allows you to find ways to give back to your community or support those around you. Focusing on others helps get you outside of your head, which can be a proactive measure against depression.
If you’re depressed, you may find it hard to make decisions that are good for you, such as eating well and exercising. Instead, you might make decisions based on what you’re feeling, like not exercising or not eating healthy because you don’t feel like it, and that’s okay. Remember to be kind to yourself and start small if you don’t feel like doing things that are good for you. Take a five or 10-minute walk or have a healthy snack. From there, you’ll start to feel good about your small decisions and can build upon them.
If you’re struggling with depression and those feelings are affecting your ability to function, it might be time to seek professional help. At Calgary Counselling Centre, there’s no waitlist and no financial barriers, so you can get the help you need when you need it. Reach out for help today. Information for this blog was provided by registered social workers, Christine Molohon and Sarah Rosenfield. Learn more about Calgary Counselling Centre’s counsellors.