If you are struggling with depression, or any other mood altering condition like anxiety or stress, it’s really easy to get caught up in your thoughts and neglect yourself.
Often when I am counselling clients in Wilmslow who find themselves here I will invite them to click in to PLEASE yourself mode. It’s about going back to basics and building from the ground up.
Treat Physical Illnesses
If you are on medication then make sure you are taking it. If you have any physical cuts or illnesses that need dealing with then get them sorted. This may involve a trip to the doctors or the local A and E but you are important so do it.
If you are ill you are going to find it more challenging to sit with difficult thoughts and feelings so get yourself treated.
Your mind and body are intrinsically linked together – look after them both.
If you are feeling really low or have numbed out then you may not feel like eating. Sometimes anxiety and depression can drive you to eat too much. Press pause and notice what you are doing.
Connect with the foods that you enjoy eating and that are towards the more healthy end of the spectrum. Your body needs fuel and often you will find that eating will help your mood.
By all means tuck into a nice bar of Diary Milk if it lifts your mood – but make sure it’s just one bar if you want to feel OK.
You don’t have to cook yourself a three course meal – just get some decent food down your neck!
Avoid mood altering substances
You know that desire you have to have a glass of wine when you are feeling fed up? Notice it, press pause and go have a nice cup of tea!
Alcohol is a depressant and although you may feel a desire to go down a few pints of lager it’s likely that it won’t help and often makes things worse.
Your job is to give yourself the best chance of moving towards what’s important in your life, booze isn’t going to help you do this long term.
The same can be said for non-prescribed drugs. Give yourself a chance. A clear head is one way to do this.
By this I mean not too little and not too much. When I am counselling people who are struggling with depression or anxiety in my consultation room in Wilmslow, it’s common to hear of sleep problems. This is normal.
Here’s a few sleep hygiene tips if you are struggling to sleep:
Don’t sleep during the day – even though you may feel like doing this to escape your feelings it will increase the chance of having a bad night’s sleep that evening.
I love a little afternoon snooze but I notice I pay for it that evening in broken sleep, so soldier on even if you find that duvet calling.
Get yourself ready for bed – go have a nice warm bath and a hot milky drink an hour before bedtime.
Use your bed for sleeping only – watch TV in your front room.
Wind down the stimulating activities well before bed – stay away from exercise or work based activities and let your mind and body get ready to rest.
Waking up and can’t get back to Sleep?
If you find yourself waking up during the night then so what! Remind yourself that the consequences of this are … you are going to feel tired the next day. That’s it. Nothing catastrophic happens.
Count your breaths or repeat the word “sleep” in your head to give your mind something to anchor to. This will help the poor little fella not get caught up in all of those negative thoughts and feelings that may be whizzing round.
If you do get caught in thoughts, notice them, thank your brain for them and go back to your counting.
If you find yourself still struggling to sleep then get up and go do something you want to do that will aid you getting back to sleep.
Reading a book or having a light snack may help. Video games and horror films on the telly should be avoided!
Physical exercise is a proven way to help with depression, stress and anxiety.
You don’t have to go run a marathon or climb a mountain just keep it simple and build it up. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Go swimming in the local pool or for a bike ride with the nippers.
This is all about taking small doable steps that take you towards the life you want to live, not giving yourself more unachievable goals and more reason to beat yourself up.
Self help books for depression
If you want to read a great book to help you move through your depression then I recommend The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Move Through Depression and Create a Life Worth Living (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) (affiliate link).
It’s from the guys who came up with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and is easy to follow and will walk you through step by step.
Depression? PLEASE yourself and connect with what’s important
Sometimes you are going to feel really stuck and unsure of how to progress. things might feel hopeless. If you can do the things I’ve mentioned above then you are putting yourself in a much better position to move towards that life that you really want to live.
Don’t forget you’re not alone. Lots of people deal with depression and understand what you’re going through.
This is not about getting everything right. It’s about baby steps in the right direction.
If you want help or someone to talk through what you are experiencing then please call me on 07966 390857. I’m an experienced therapist and it’s unlikely that you will bring anything to me that I haven’t dealt with before.