Depression can make you feel like you’re constantly moving through life underwater. It can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and unable to enjoy the things that used to bring you joy.
Depression can be an incredibly difficult obstacle to overcome on your own, which is why many people turn to medication to help them with the process. Unfortunately, these medications can come with their own set of side effects and health risks, not to mention that they’re designed to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause of depression. Fortunately, there are other ways you can treat depression without medication so you don’t have to deal with side effects or health risks—these 9 tips will help you get started!
1) Accept Yourself
Sometimes people are so hard on themselves for having depression. I’ve had counseling clients admit that they almost believe that if they hate themselves enough, the depression will leave. Obviously, this won’t work…you can’t hate yourself better and it’ll only make things worse.
Though this might be counterintuitive, work to accept yourself and depression. You’re not a bad person for having it; you’re a human being with emotions just like everyone else. In fact, your situation is far from unique. Everyone has felt sad or depressed at some point in their lives and many people have experienced long-term depression (that’s what makes it so common). So don’t beat yourself up for having it—accept that you do and start working on getting better. It’s hard work but it will get easier with time as you learn how to manage your symptoms more effectively. You can do it!
2) Listen To Your Depression
When we’re so used to fighting depression, it seems counterintuitive to slow down and listen to what depression might be telling us. Believe it or not, there can be a lot of wisdom in depression. For many people, depression can be our body’s way of communicating with us and telling us there’s something wrong and that something in our life is out of alignment.
If you can sit quietly with your depression, without judgment and criticism, the wise inner voice can reveal the things that aren’t working for you. It could that you’re in a job that’s toxic. Perhaps you’re carrying around a backpack full of resentment and depression is telling you to start the healing process. Or maybe you’re not being honest with yourself about something.
It can be hard to slow down and listen. The urgency of depression pushes us to fix something fast by taking anti-depressants, for example. But take a breath and listen. When you’re willing to take a step back from what you feel like you need, your depression may have some really important insights that could change your life.
3) Unlock Your Brain
Therapy can be just as effective (if not more) than prescription medications in combating depression and can have long-lasting effects on mood. Though talk therapy is always a good way to connect with yourself, some people want deeper healing that words can’t access. Brainspotting, EMDR, and neurofeedback are some of the best ways to help a person understand what’s going on inside their brain—and how to change it.
Using a focused mindfulness approach, brainspotting helps people connect to the place in their brain where depression lives. EMDR helps people in much the same way and allows people to free associate and uncover the deeper connections that have long been forgotten. Neurofeedback is a different form of therapy altogether and literally trains the brain to do different things, whether that be to calm the fight or flight response or increase concentration.
All three of these medication alternatives work to treat the problem, rather than the symptom. This can be a much more effective way to heal from depression and anxiety because it allows people to connect with their deepest issues and learn how to change them for good.
3) Put Your Feet In The Grass
In a world full of wi-fi, roofs, and responsibilities, it can be easy to disconnect from the earth. Taking time each day to feel your feet in the grass is not only grounding but also healing. Just taking five minutes every morning to sit on a patch of grass and breathe deeply has been shown to reduce stress levels. Not only that but getting outside into nature has been proven to help alleviate depression by raising serotonin levels (the happy hormone) and reducing cortisol (the stress hormone). So even if you’re stuck inside all day at work or school, try stepping outside for some fresh air at lunchtime or right before bed—you’ll sleep better and wake up feeling happier!
4) Clean Your Body
Modern medicine often ignores the value of keeping the body clean and how much a toxic body can affect the mood. I’d be willing to bet that many of us treat our cars better than we treat our bodies. If you’re trying to get over depression, I recommend doing a cleanse, like Whole 30, or detoxifying your body. Start by changing your diet and increasing your water intake. You might also consider making some lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or cutting back on alcohol consumption. Even small steps like these can have an impact on your overall health and well-being, which in turn will help lift your spirits.
5) Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep at night is essential for staying positive and healthy. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling foggy-headed, depressed, or anxious. Aim for a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night and, when possible, try to wake up around the same time every day—like at 8 am. This will help regulate your body’s internal clock, which in turn will keep your mood stable and energy high.
It’s also important to develop good sleep habits because while you might think you’re sleeping long enough, you might not be sleeping good enough. For example, if you tend to watch TV or read in bed before falling asleep, it can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling groggy and tired throughout the day. If possible, try going to bed a little earlier each night so that your body has time to unwind before bedtime.
6) Surround Yourself With Positive People
You’re the average of the 5 people you’re around the most. So, if you want to become more accepting of yourself, surround yourself with positive people who have a good attitude towards life and love helping others.
When we spend time with negative or pessimistic people, we tend to pick up their habits and attitudes because they unconsciously influence us in ways we don’t even realize.
But when we hang out with upbeat, optimistic people, our mood improves as well. And when our mood improves, so do our thoughts and actions which leads to better results. Bottom line: Surround yourself with good, supportive people! This energy is contagious!
8) Structure, Structure, Structure
When depression shows up, it can feel like one-minute blends into the next. In order to overcome depression without medication, it’s important to create structure and routine in your life. If you don’t already have a set morning and evening routine, start by setting an alarm for when you need to wake up and go to bed each day.
Once you have that down, begin making a list of things that bring you joy or make you happy. Block time by physically writing it (or typing it) into your calendar. Don’t schedule too much, but just enough to give yourself some boundaries.
Finally, get moving! Exercise is scientifically proven to improve mood and overall well-being. Even if you’re feeling low on energy and motivation, try walking around your neighborhood for 15 minutes a day. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after just one week!
It sounds simple, but meditation is an easy way to reduce stress and negative thoughts. Studies show that people who meditate for just 20 minutes a day show significant improvement in their mood and ability to manage strong emotions. There are many different types of meditation—some focus on breathing or repeating positive mantras, while others involve yoga-like movements or focusing on your body’s energy centers (known as chakras). If you’re new to meditation, start with something basic like mindful breathing: sit comfortably with your eyes closed and focus on your breath going in and out of your nose. When you notice your mind wandering (and it will), simply bring it back to focusing on your breath.
Knot Counseling Can Help
If you’re struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for depression treatment. Located in Lakewood, Colorado, our licensed therapists and counselors can help individuals explore what’s driving your symptoms and feelings. We’re trained in CBT, Brainspotting, EMDR, and many other interventions that are proven to help depression.