What depression has taught me about myself

It has been said that one out every 5 Americans has had a first-hand experience with depression. That means either they have had a bout of depression themselves or have had to deal with someone with depression. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with depression throughout my life. I can remember days where I would wake up to the overwhelming sadness that gripped me to the point of paralysis. Depression would overrule any desire I had to be productive or effective and would cause great turmoil for me and my family. I have definitely come a long way from the dark days that would consume me but I still have to work hard to not allow myself to get stuck in the abyss of depression.

Woman's back with her head down-struggling with sadness

Through my struggles, I have had to fight to find ways that help me stay well. It has not been easy but I can honestly say that I am now in a position where I can identify my triggers. However, I do know that depression can creep in at any moment. Depression has taught me that if I am to conquer it, I must actively take part in the following:

1. Read my bible 

Staying in God’s word keeps me in a right frame of mind. When depression starts to rear its ugly head, many negative thoughts start to creep in. Because of that, I must challenge those thoughts with what the bible says is true of me. It reminds me that God loves me (John 3:16) and that He cares for me (Matthew 6:26). This gives me hope and keeps my focus on Him and not on my deceptive feelings.

2. Eat healthy 

Whenever I eat foods that I consider healthy, I feel energetic, motivated, and excited about life. I believe in moderation, but, as long as I keep a balanced diet of lean proteins, low fat dairy, and lots of fruits and veggies I can keep my moods stable.

3. Stay active

I know I have written about this before, but exercise is so critical to keeping my spirits high. Getting my heart rate up at least 30 minutes every day is essential to helping me feel accomplished which increases my motivation to get more done. I make sure to get a variety of exercise during the week which includes cardio, resistance and flexibility training.

4. Get enough sleep

I make it a point to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. When I don’t, it leaves me susceptible to exhaustion. This exhaustion can quickly turn into loss of motivation which turns into a loss of productivity. The loss of productivity leads to feelings of hopelessness. Feelings of hopelessness leads to depression. It is a cycle of doom for me, so I do my best to get to sleep on time to get my 8 hours every night.

5. Take in sunlight

Sunlight triggers the brain to release a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a mood boosting hormone which helps promote feelings of calmness and focus. While too much exposure to sunlight can cause harm, getting just the right amount has many health benefits, and the prevention of depression is one of them. I live in the northern part of Illinois so getting sunlight everyday can be challenging. Also, the shorter days limits sunlight which decreases the release of serotonin. In those instances, I use a light box which simulates what sunlight does. If you’re interested in using a light box, please seek the advice of a doctor who can recommend the right one for you. 

Depression is a real thing that affects many of us, but if we take a proactive approach to dealing with it we will be equipped to keep it at bay. If you suffer from depression and need more practical ways to deal with it, I would love to help you. Click below to book a free call with me.