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Coping with Depression: 7 Tips for Those Days When You Just Can’t Win

Reading time | 3 mins

The very worst days of depression can take me to some dark and ugly places. Sometimes it feels like I have to rest and recover instead of carrying on with my normal life. This makes me feel like I’m throwing in the towel. It’s like I lost a race that exists only in my head.

Here are a few tips that help me get through those days when I feel like I just can’t win.

Accept where you are

I used to spend a great deal of time trying to show a happy face to everybody. I thought that talking about my depression ruined their day. It left me feeling lonelier than ever.

Now I understand everyone experiences sadness. Everyone has down days.

It can be difficult to admit that you’re having a hard time. I remind myself that there is no shame in accepting my feelings and state of mind. You can only work on what you can admit to yourself.

Find one activity that pleases you

What makes you happy? Is it being in nature? Even on the days where you can barely get out of bed, you can bring a bit of nature to you — and do other activities from the comfort of your bedroom.

Hop online and check out a nature documentary — there are lots to choose from! Color, paint, crochet, or listen to your favorite album. Doing one activity that you enjoy just may help to elevate your mood.

Binge-watch your favorite series

Sometimes our lives become too emotionally painful to handle. When that happens, it’s perfectly ok to escape in a TV show.

I’m a pro at binge-watching TV. I have a few favorite shows bookmarked on my streaming services for when I need to take a break from my life. When I come back to reality, I feel a little more refreshed.

Tidy a small area

Depression gets messy sometimes. You may notice all your stuff accumulating if you haven’t gotten out of bed or off the couch in a while. It’s completely normal.

I like to make a little time to tidy up what I call my “depression pile” before it gets overwhelming. Otherwise the clutter starts to feel like one more thing I have to dig myself out of (literally).

Throw out the trash, put the dishes in the sink, and toss your clothing in the hamper. That way you won’t have to waste your precious energy on cleaning up a mess when you are feeling better.

Cuddle something

Some research suggests that cuddling can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

I spend lots of time on depressed days cuddled up on the couch with my dogs. I’m not saying they enjoy it. But I know they appreciate the extra pets.

Reach out

I sometimes wish I could talk with someone. Instead, I often wait and suffer in isolation.

Depression can lie to you and make you feel like someone that nobody wants to be around. That isn’t true.

Don’t wait for someone to notice. Pick up your phone. Connect with an old friend through social media, call someone, or send a private message.

Our friends and family are often open to supporting us. They can’t if they don’t know what’s going on.

Change your idea of what a win is

Some days I struggle to drag myself out of bed. I don’t have the energy to feed myself. I’m fatigued like I have the flu, even though I’m not sneezing or coughing. I feel hopeless and incapable. I withdraw from the people around me. I mindlessly scroll through social media or soak in trash TV for hours.

You know what? I’ve made my peace with that.

We often fight mental illness. Some days we win by hanging on long enough to see a relief in the depression.

Keeping yourself safe is a win. Trusting yourself to know your limitations is a win.

On the days when you feel like you just can’t win, please don’t feel that you failed. Ride the day out like a bad storm.

For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team. 

Sources

  • Sumioka H, et al. (2013). Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels. DOI: 10.1038/srep03034

DEPR-US-NP-00070 JULY 2019