I remember feeling completely numb all the time.
I couldn’t eat, sleep or do anything.
My level of functioning had reached an all-time low and it was difficult to imagine my life ever getting better.
These days I’m pretty thrilled with my life.
I’ve transformed my career, physical fitness, mindset and relationships.
It’s been a tough journey but I learned a lot and I wanted to share some of the most effective things I did to survive depression and improve my mental health with you.
I hope this guide gives you some ideas and helps you get started.
Feelings Are Temporary
I have a bunch of tips I want to share with you but I first want to offer you that all feelings are temporary.
I know when my depression is bad it feels like I will feel like this for the rest of my life.
I find it helpful to remind myself that ALL feelings are temporary.
The truth is depression is treatable and people recover from it every day.
I talk about this a lot on the podcast so check that out if you need some more tips on how to cope with depression.
The tough part is that depression lies to you and makes you feel like you will feel this way forever.
When I feel that way I try to remind myself that is my mental illness talking and not the truth.
The truth is you can heal.
The truth is there are better things ahead.
The truth is you are stronger than you think you are.
When I’m trying to get out of a depressive episode it feels like I’m crawling out of a hole.
It can feel really overwhelming to try and start taking action especially if you’ve been numb or low functioning for a long time.
I try to just focus on one small thing at a time and then celebrate that win.
It’s an awesome community of women who will celebrate any small accomplishments that you make.
Celebrating will help you build some momentum and enable you to take another small step.
I like to start with something simple like drinking enough water.
Once I’ve done that for a while I will add walking around the block or a short ten-minute stretching routine.
Doing these small things helps me shake my depression off and I’m usually able to build my functioning back up over time.
I love the feeling of a fresh start.
If you’ve been feeling numb or struggling for a long time it might be worth trying to figure out how you can start fresh.
I’ve done huge life changes like letting people go, moving or starting a new job to give myself the chance to start over but you don’t have to do anything that dramatic.
Sometimes just rearranging your furniture and decluttering the heck out of your space can give you the feeling of a fresh start.
Cleansing and getting rid of things that are no longer serving you can feel really good especially when you’re doing it with the intention of letting go.
I believe it’s possible to reset your emotional energy and clear mental space by cleansing your physical space.
I made a video about it you can check out below.
I really love using powerful affirmations when I’m walking through a tough season of life.
I believe the key to creating affirmations is to use something that feels true to you.
If you try to use something like “I love myself completely and fully” but you really hate yourself I don’t think that’s very helpful.
Your brain knows when you’re lying to yourself.
Try to go more general until you come up with something that feels powerful and true.
Something like “I’m learning how to love myself” or “I am a fighter and I always overcome” might feel more aligned.
The trick is to find something that feels both true and powerful.
When I try to use affirmations that I don’t believe it doesn’t really help me feel better.
I’ve found the trick is to brainstorm a list of affirmations that I can really get behind and believe are true in my heart.
I like to write them in my journal when I need a little boost.
You can also set them as alarms on your phone so they pop up throughout the day.
Whenever the alarm goes off take a few minutes to put your hand over your heart, take a deep breath and say your affirmation to yourself.
I tend to be really hard on myself and it’s really frustrating to me when I can’t get as much done as I think I “should” do.
It’s easy to compare yourself to other people and feel bad that you’re not able to get as much done as other people.
When I start to compare myself to other people I try to remind myself that I really don’t know anything about how other people are actually feeling or doing.
I just have to let myself be on my own journey and recognize that I’m doing something hard.
The truth is managing depression is difficult.
If you can give yourself some credit for doing something hard it can help break up your negative thought patterns.
When my functioning is low it’s so easy to beat myself up and get down on myself.
Reminding myself that living with mental illness is difficult and I’m actually strong helps me focus on the positive instead of beating myself up.
You don’t have to be 100% productive all the time.
In fact, if we were functioning perfectly all the time we would miss out on a lot of lessons and experiences.
When I was depressed it was really difficult to explain to people what I was feeling or what was going on with me.
However, keeping it bottled up only made it worse and after months of pretending like I was fine I ended up having a spectacular breakdown. It is important to focus on continuing medical education and knowing as much about the technical aspects of your health as it is to know yourself.
Sometimes just admitting that you’re struggling and don’t feel like yourself can be a relief.
We do lots of challenges and activities to improve our mental health and are a group of women committed to living our best lives.
If you have people to ask for support consider swallowing your pride and get honest with yourself about how you’re feeling.
You would be surprised how many people have also struggled with mental health at one point or another.
You’re not alone and you’re definitely not the only one.
Listen to Positivity
When I was really depressed I dived deep into podcasts and positive audiobooks.
This served me in a couple of ways.
First, it helped drown out all of the negative thoughts that were constantly playing in my mind.
When I was depressed I would often think the worse things basically in a loop in my head.
Listening to positive audio helped break the negative thought loop and gave me a break from my own relentless negativity.
Secondly, it put some positive messages into my brain.
At first, it felt weird to listen to people talking about encouraging things.
I was so used to beating myself up all day long that any departure from that felt strange.
After a while, though it really grew on me.
I started listening to lots of self-help books on my headphones while I was at my desk at work.
Move Your Body
I already know I’m going to get angry comments about this suggestion.
I had untreated clinical depression for ten years.
I understand how difficult it is to move your body or exercise when you’re depressed.
The thing is I also know that it is really freaking helpful.
So I’m sorry if this suggestion makes you mad but I have to tell people the truth about how I manage depression.
Honestly, exercising and eating healthy were the MOST helpful things besides medication.
If you can do ANY kind of movement it can be really helpful and some studies have shown exercise can be just as effective as anti-depressants.
Start by just doing a short ten-minute stretching video on YouTube.
Try and add in a walk down your street or around the block.
Keep building and pushing yourself to move your body a little more every day.
The more often you do it the easier it gets.
Here’s a free yoga routine for depression you can try out.
Talk to a Doctor
I remember being so scared to talk to my Doctor about my depression.
It took me years to work up the courage to get really honest about how I was feeling and how bad things had gotten.
My Doctor was able to run tests and do blood work that showed I had a lot of other things going on that was making my depression extremely difficult to manage.
I was anemic and extremely low in Vitamin D which both were depleting my energy and making it even more difficult to deal with my depression.
Getting a complete overview of my health was one of the most helpful things I ever did for managing my depression and it helped me start to figure out things I could do to start turning my life around.
I also went on anti-depressants which is a really personal choice and that you should talk to a Doctor about it.
I only mention it here so you know there’s NOTHING wrong with taking medication if you feel that’s what’s best for you.
You deserve to feel good.
You deserve to heal.
You don’t need to carry any shame about it.
This can be so tough when you’re numb and can’t feel anything.
However, I try to remember other tough things I’ve survived and remember that there are better days ahead.
It’s OK to feel bad sometimes and I don’t believe human beings are meant to be happy 100% of the time.
Sometimes we have to grieve or learn how to process our emotions.
When this happens I try to remind myself that this is only one section of my life and there are happier times ahead of me.
Having faith that things will get better has gotten me through some very tough seasons in life.
If you need a pep talk check out the podcast episode below.
Make a Plan
What do you need to do to start feeling better?
Here’s a little tough love but if you want to feel different you are probably going to have to change your behavior and do something different.
Figure out what actions you could take that would improve your mental health over time.
Maybe you need to clean up your diet, get a gym membership, go to therapy or make a doctor appointment.
You don’t have to do everything all at once.
Like I said, small actions are key.
One of my favorite tricks for building new habits is to add it to something you already do.
For example, you already brush your teeth every day so you could stack a new habit onto this.
Every day while you brush your teeth you could do squats or some kind of exercise or you could use that time to say affirmations in your mind.
While you’re waiting for your coffee to brew maybe you listen to a positive podcast or do some stretching.
Take something that you do every day and then add a new habit that you think will help improve your depression over time.
Change Your Life
Many times my depression has served as an alarm that it is time to make some changes in my life.
I’ve had depressive episodes when it was time to leave relationships, leave jobs or get a new living situation.
Sometimes your depression can be a sign that you need to change your life.
Only you can really know for sure what the cause of your depression is and I recommend that you talk to a therapist to get some clarity about why you’re feeling numb.
Just remember that you are capable of changing your life if you need to.
Our brains often resist change and it can feel scary to do something new.
The truth is you can go back to school. You can move. You can end relationships. You can get new friends.
A lot of times we have way more options than we typically think we do.
Allow yourself to daydream about what you ACTUALLY want your life to look like.
If there’s a particular dream that stands out to you set a small goal to start moving towards the life that you want.
Try Something New
I’ve tried so many thing to help me figure out what tools actually help me in managing my depression.
I suggest if you want to feel different that you try doing something new.
Try meditating, EFT, breathwork, yoga, art, journaling or anything you feel drawn to.
It can be difficult to make yourself try something new when you feel like crap but it’s worth it if you can find something that helps you start feeling like yourself.
Here’s a video that I use for EFT if you want to give it a try.
It only takes a few minutes and I notice a big difference when I do it regularly.
EFT has you tap on pressure points on your body while talking through a script to help you shift your thought process.
I hope this guide gives you some ideas of things to try if you’re depressed or feel nothing.
I know that it can feel really difficult to get started when you’re depressed but just take it one day and one small step at a time.
It’s OK to feel bad and it’s OK to struggle.
It’s all part of the healing process and there are better days ahead of you.
I used to think I would be depressed forever but these days I’ve been able to create a beautiful life for myself.
I know it’s possible for you too.
Be sure to grab my printable mental health planner or free journal from the resource library if you haven’t yet.
If you want more ideas for managing depression I have a lot of blog posts you can check out here.