By Tabasom Eblaghie, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Is Depression visiting you? Here are ten tips to dealing with its insidious effect in our lives:
1) You have to do the OPPOSITE of what you feel like doing. If you don’t feel like talking to someone, pick up the phone any ways and call a friend. If you don’t feel like exercising, go for a five or ten minute walk.
2) The intention is NOT ENJOYMENT of the activity, but to just do it. Don’t go into the activity e.g. walking, swimming or visiting friends and then stop with the thought “I am not enjoying it so I won’t do it again”. You’re not doing it to enjoy the activity, but to re-activate your life.
3) Motivation comes AFTER we start something, not before. Start small. With each small success, motivation will grow. Open a few pieces of mail, vacuum one room, run some errands.
4) Any goal setting has to be done at a level WAY BELOW your normal level. If you could run for 45 minutes last year, start with a ten minute walk. Make sure your goals are small and scheduled – so say “I’ll go for a ten minute walk” and NOT “I’ll go for a walk”.
5) Watch your CAFFEINE intake. A lot of people say “I’m not sleeping because I feel depressed or anxious”; however, lack of sleep leads to feelings of depression and anxiety. If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor and watch your caffeine intake. Try to keep it at around 200 mg per day. This is about one cup of coffee, or 2 cups of black tea a day. Stop drinking caffeine mid-day onwards, and stick to non-caffeinated beverages like Rooibos or herbal teas.
6) Your mom was right! Take your VITAMINS like Vitamin D3, Omega 3, Vitamin B12 and a good multi-vitamin. Talk to your doctor to see what your body may be lacking, and for dosage.
7) EXERCISE. It doesn’t really matter if it’s aerobic or anaerobic, but if you can tolerate aerobic, then choose that. Exercise releases endorphins which has a positive effect on our mood. Energy levels go up and exercise also helps deal with stress more effectively.
8) EAT small meals. During times of depression, we may not have the energy to prepare meals and may resort to fast food and food high in sugar. Pick up some fruit, nuts and easy to prepare meals like ready made salads and veggie packs for snacks.
9) Problems GROW in secret. Talk to someone about what is bothering you – whether you’re lonely, sad, angry, or dealing with fear and panic. Talk to a loved one, a therapist or a good friend.
10) Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant so if you’re self medicating with alcohol, it’s like taking a depressant to get rid of the depression which is counter-intuitive. Alcohol takes away our ability to problem-solve and deal with the thoughts and emotions that are creating problems in our life today.
This is only a small list of what you can do. Make sure you reach out and talk to someone, whether it’s a friend, a therapist or your family doctor. You don’t need to suffer alone. To find out if counselling would benefit you in your life today, please call me at (604) 889-3635 to discuss your issues. I look forward to speaking with you!