9 Tips To Make Daily Life Easier If You Live With Depression
For some people who suffer from depression, getting through the day can feel like a challenging task. Normal activities, such as getting dressed, making food and socialising, may feel like they require a lot of effort, and as a result become neglected. This creates a vicious cycle, where depression leads to poor self care, and poor self care exacerbates depression. Here, we give you practical tips to improve your life with depression. Learn how to detect depression in yourself and others.
Dr Christos Kouimtsidis, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre explains: “Breaking this cycle requires the motivation to help yourself, but this does not necessarily mean turning your life around all at once. The path to balanced mental wellbeing can be taken one step at a time – and if you are searching the internet for ways to make your life easier when you have depression, you have already taken the first step.”
Here are some practical tips that you can implement in your daily life to make things easier if you live with depression.
Reduce The Need For Decision Making
An impaired ability to make decisions is a core symptom of depression. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to get through the day, especially if you spend a long time lingering on decisions, or avoid them altogether in favour of something that requires less effort.
Even something as simple as getting out of bed is a choice one must make. For some, this might lead to anxiety about the day ahead, and so the idea of staying in bed and avoiding such anxieties feels more appealing.
Researchers at Cornell University found that we make over 220 decisions a day about food alone, which means that decision making is a key part of daily life. Therefore, to build your confidence in making decisions, try to start small by reducing the number of decisions that you need to make in a day. This can be accomplished by establishing a routine; for example, try eating the same thing for breakfast every day so that you don’t have to make a decision about what to prepare. You could also apply this to your activities on your lunch break, how long you spend using electronic devices, and what time you go to bed.
Each addition to your routine can not only reduce your need to make choices, but also contribute to the improvement of your mental wellbeing.
Shorten Your To-Do List
A to-do list that is too long can be overwhelming. When this is the case, we tend to procrastinate. A study which measured the correlation between anxiety, depression and procrastination in students revealed that students with higher levels of depression exhibited “procrastinatory behaviour as a result of a preoccupation with depressing or painful thoughts about the past”.
This can translate to your to-do list. Many of us dislike doing chores, and when there is an association between chores and feelings of negativity, we are more likely to procrastinate when it comes to undertaking chores in future. With depression, this need to procrastinate is amplified.
When it comes to your to-do list, try eliminating the tasks that you do not feel you have the energy to do that day, and that can be pushed to another day without leaving you worse off. This will shorten your list, reducing the chance of feeling overwhelmed, and therefore encouraging you to accomplish more and make progress in your mental health journey.
Start Food Prepping
Food prepping is the act of creating lots of meals in one large batch. You can then eat these meals throughout the week without having to cook every day.
This ties in with the two previous points. By having food already prepped, you don’t need to make a decision on what to eat. In addition, you can remove cooking from your daily to-do list, leaving you with more time for self care.
Make Plans For Things That You Enjoy
When every day feels the same, it is difficult to feel like you are making progress. Having something to look forward to encourages you to set intentions and create purpose.
Try making plans for the near future, whether that is tomorrow, the weekend or the week after. Continue to make plans throughout the weeks, so that you always have something to look forward to.
The important aspect of plan making when you have depression is to ensure that the activities you have put in your diary are ones that you enjoy. It could be something as simple as going for a walk, or even planning a phone conversation with a friend.
Talk To Your Boss
Those with depression may find it difficult to approach their managers or boss at work with their mental health issues for fear of feeling dismissed. While this may have to involve some good judgement on your part, many workplaces now have more of an understanding of mental health and its impact on employee wellbeing, and may have policies in place to help you.
If you feel that you can talk to someone at work, it may be well worth it to potentially reduce your workload, give you some much-needed time off, or receive other forms of support.
Incorporate Some Form Of Daily Movement
While it may be tough to muster up the motivation to exercise, it is key to incorporate movement, however small, into your daily routine. This could be stretching or going for a walk, or something more rigorous such as jogging or cycling.
It is important to note that starting off with a strenuous and challenging exercise routine can be difficult to sustain. Therefore, begin with something simpler and more manageable so that you don’t become discouraged. As the days go by and your chosen form of movement becomes part of your routine, this can provide you with a sense of purpose and allow you to feel as if you are progressing with your mental and physical health.
Prioritise Good Sleep
Around 75% of depressed patients suffer from insomnia symptoms (trouble getting to or staying asleep). This can lead to tiredness during the day, and cause other mental and physical symptoms, such as brain fog, irritability, low libido, weight gain, high blood pressure and weakened immunity.
In order to improve your daily functioning, getting a good amount of quality sleep is a must. Tips for improving your sleep quality include:
- Avoiding screen contact an hour before bed
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping your bedroom cool at night
- Not eating past 8pm
- Participating in calming activities before bed, such as low-impact stretching or reading
Remember That This Won’t Last Forever
Each person’s experience with depression is different. Some may recover in weeks or months, while others take longer. However, it is important to remember that how you are feeling now is not how you will feel for the rest of your life.
Try recording your feelings in a daily journal. This will help you recognise your progress, as you can look back to previous journal entries and see how far you have come.
You might also like to read How to help someone with depression, and Things psychiatrists want you to know about depression.
Ask For Help
We all need support at some point in our lives, and there is always someone who can listen to you or help you if you need it. Ask a close friend or family member for support, join a group of like-minded people on social media, or use a free phone service such as Samaritans if you need someone to talk to.
You may also wish to contact one of our friendly team members at The London Psychiatry Centre, who will be able to arrange a consultation with an experienced psychiatrist. We can provide talking therapies, medication, and an alternative, effective treatment for depression without the need for drugs – repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). Contact us using the below details: