Depression can feel like a never-ending grey blanket over life. It’s easy to fall into its grasp and
consider it the new normal, not wanting to break free from the somehow comforting sadness that
it makes. Effort becomes the enemy, and it’s impossible to do even the things you used to love.
However, if you’re reading this, you’ve decided to either make the first steps to recover from
depression, avoid negative thoughts or to keep up the everyday battle against it instead of succumbing to it.
Depression is not like a cold or a fever. There are days when it’s good, and there are days when it
hits harder than usual. It’s important to always be mindful of that when considering your
progress. Your journey won’t be linear, but if you continue to be mindful and seek help in one
way or another, you’ll start to see an upward trend in the quality of your life. It’s easy to slip up
and start the negative cycle over again, though, and here are some ways to stop that from
happening or to avoid negative thoughts.
Get Off Social Media
Getting off social media is the tip that everyone says, but nobody ever really does. It’s
omnipresent, and sometimes even vital for career success. If it’s important for your job,
obviously this idea doesn’t apply to you. However, it’s best to limit it as much as possible when
you’re not working.
Social media equalizes everyone’s feelings and quantifies them with likes. It’s an inaccurate
measurement and portrayal of how people feel about you, and it can make you obsessive over
likes. There are so many instances of people shifting their persona online and posting and doing
risky/risque things just to have that shot of dopamine from receiving those little hearts. Statistics
and numbers can ruin your mental health if you start to fall into the habit of checking things like
Instagram and Twitter incessantly.
Social media becomes an itch that demands to be scratched. When you check your phone and see
no notifications, feelings of worthlessness and insignificance come rushing back. You start to
doubt your own quality and worth, and that’s a hallmark of depression. Just like any other
addiction, social media can be really detrimental to mental health. By not doing it, you could avoid negative thoughts.
Instead of focusing on actually doing things you enjoy or improving yourself in other ways,
you’ll find yourself beholden to the number of people who may not even really care about you,
just scrolling and hitting “like” on whatever they see. What you should do is focus on things and
people you actually really enjoy, forming real bonds and putting effort into projects and hobbies
Try to Stay Out of Bed
Beds are basically a safe haven, so it may sound counterintuitive to not want to be in one.
However, when it comes to depression, if you lie down, you might not want to get up. Also, it’s a
perfect segue into going on your phone and mindlessly clicking through videos and social media
Many psychologists and other mental health professionals suggest not working in bed, because it
becomes associated with both sleep and work. This will either make you tired when working or
make you feel like you need to work when it’s time for bed. Having a set schedule can be vital
for managing depression, and staying in bed when you’re not sleeping might sabotage that.
Instead of sitting in bed, try taking a walk or going into another room. When you’d normally
browse the internet in your bed, try finding a comfy spot somewhere else. If you can muster up
the energy, maybe even try going to a coffee shop or your local library. If you have no other
option, at least work sitting upright on a different part of your bed if you can. You’ll feel more
productive and if you’ve done nothing else, at least try and make your bed to start building the
energy to do even more tasks.
Stay Disciplined: Don’t Lose Consistency
As mentioned prior, to avoid negative thoughts, consistency is key when dealing with depression. As your mental fog starts to decrease and you feel more energy that you didn’t have before, it can be tempting to fall back into old patterns when you have a day that isn’t so energy-filled. However, you need to try and work past that mental and physical block in order to be consistent.
A routine, whether it’s strict or loose, is a great tool against the clutches of depression. Having a
calming morning routine, a work-life schedule, or even just a night ritual can make a world of
difference. What’s even better is incorporating some kind of light exercise into your routine,
which has been proven to aid plenty of ailments, including depression, in the long run.
Be Kind When Things Don’t Go Right
Whether it’s because you didn’t follow a routine you had or just didn’t succeed in something, be
kind to yourself. Wrenches are thrown into everyone’s plans, and it’s vital to be mindful of that.
If a task takes you too long and stretches into time that’s set aside for something else, don’t get
upset and quit. Remember that everyone experiences these kinds of schedule switch-arounds. A
plan isn’t set in stone, but a guide to making sure you’re trying to have the best day you can.
Be Mindful of Negative Thought Cycles and Frequency
When you don’t finish something you should have or if you have a bad day because of outside
factors, try to notice when you start to have strings of negative thoughts that weren’t present
before. A big part of depression is not even realizing that it’s happening because it becomes such
an ingrained part of your reality. Having self-awareness can make a huge difference in catching
it early. Just like people are taught to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke early,
depression should be treated the same way. It can literally be life-saving, and you deserve to care
for yourself in that way.
When you start to notice negative thoughts creep in, think about why. Are you really worthless
because you dropped and broke a glass? Are you really hideous because you did your eyeliner a
little weird today? Are you actually a weak and stupid person because you could only do 10 push-ups instead of 15? This kind of accelerated self-hatred is frequent for people with depression, and identifying and questioning the thoughts instead of treating them as fact can make a huge difference in your mental health.
Finally, and probably most importantly, don’t self-isolate! So many depressed people will just
want to lock themselves in their rooms because they feel like a burden or are just overwhelmed
by social interaction at the time because it’s too energy-intensive. This isn’t to say that you
shouldn’t take time to yourself if you need it, but often the time that’s taken is not productive at
all and just leads to a downward spiral. When you feel the urge to lock yourself in your room
forever is the time when you need to see others the most.
Even if you’re not reaching out for help, at least reach out to talk to a friend or family member if
you can. If you don’t have either of those available to you, a non-crisis hotline or even a crisis
hotline if necessary can make a huge difference. Texting is good, but talking on the phone or inperson is even better. If you can’t leave the house, having a more intimate form of human contact
than text on a screen can be really beneficial.
This list is non-exhaustive and definitely adaptable to your needs and feelings, but no matter
what, don’t give up! Depression is not a choice, and there will be times where you might feel like
you can’t even get up. Take it day by day, but if you can, try to employ some of these tips to avoid negative thoughts. When you start to establish a more consistent, positive routine, you’ll see positive change. It doesn’t need to be extreme – even making yourself a coffee and making your bed can be a beginning routine. Just making sure you’re not locking yourself in your own head can open so many doors for yourself and your healing process. Be kind to yourself, and focus on healing.