What you will learn from reading this article:
- How to deal with depression by creating empowering beliefs
- How changing your body posture can change your mood and help your confidence
- How to use rituals and routines to create a feedback loop that lifts you up instead of drags you down
- How to transform your vocabulary and your self-talk to be more positive
- How to build your support network and begin setting small goals today
Feeling sad, anxious or depressed? Happiness doesn’t always come easily, and you don’t have to be happy all the time. The science of happiness tells us that it is dependent on many things, including brain chemistry and life events. But if you find yourself constantly feeling down, you could be one of the many Americans who experience depression. You’re not alone: Depression affects almost one in six people at some point in their lives. You’re also not powerless – you can learn how to deal with depression and increase your quality of life.
Whether you have been formally diagnosed or not, dealing with depression can be a frustrating and exhausting endeavor. At times, you might feel stuck. You might feel helpless. But there are ways you can make lasting changes to your mindset – and take back your life.
Between 2011 and 2014, roughly one in every eight Americans reported recently using antidepressants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a common prescription for those dealing with depression, but it isn’t the only solution. Antidepressants don’t work for everyone, and they don’t always get to the root of the problem.
If you’re anxious or depressed, it may be time to examine your lifestyle and make lasting changes. Though learning how to deal with depression may not be easy, it is possible to feel better and live a fulfilling and extraordinary life.
What are the signs of depression?
Depression symptoms can vary, but it always results in living in a negative state. Feeling hopeless or a lack of energy and interest in things that used to bring you happiness are common signs. Some people who are dealing with depression also experience restlessness or constant negative thought patterns. It’s important to realize that your symptoms don’t have to be like anyone else’s to qualify you as depressed.
Depression can feel like an endless cycle: You don’t have the energy to fight back, which only makes it worse. This lowers your energy even further and dealing with depression becomes seemingly impossible. Instead of getting caught in this cycle of suffering, you can change your body and mind with positive, empowering rituals that create a feedback loop that brings you up instead of taking you down.
There are several common triggers that are often the cause of depression. Feelings of loss, “less than” and “never going to happen” are the major reasons that most people dip into depression. Loss can result from a loved one dying or losing a job, feelings of “less than” can be triggered by comparing yourself to others you view as having more than you and “never” occurs when you start believing that your goals and dreams are completely out of reach. Once you understand what is behind it, you can begin dealing with depression in a more productive way.
How to deal with depression
What are your options for how to deal with depression? A host of treatments exist, and they all have one thing in common: for all the research and studies performed, we only know a tiny bit about why brain chemistry works the way it does. What we do know for sure is that your mind-body connection is a huge determiner for whether you live in a peak state or a negative one. Tony Robbins says, “You don’t get depressed, you do depressed.” When you change your actions, your mood often follows.
If you have been depressed for a long period of time and it’s significantly affecting your quality of life, you should get professional help. However, if you have just recently started to feel depressed or the feeling is mild, you may be able to pull yourself out of this state with these tips. Here are five ways to deal with depression that you can start doing today.
Tip #1: Fight negative thinking
Many of those trying to find ways to deal with depression have formed limiting beliefs that negatively affect how they think. If you come from a family who has never had a member attend college, you might believe that you are not smart enough to achieve your goals. Another common limiting belief of those dealing with depression is that they are supposed to be sad because depression or anxiety runs in their family. Loss and traumatic events can create limiting beliefs that cause people to believe they can never be happy again – or that they don’t deserve happiness.
It’s important to address these types of negative beliefs and understand where they come from so you can start changing them. Whether your beliefs come from your environment, past results or a traumatic event, you can start knocking down the walls of these beliefs and changing them to empowering ones that can help you learn how to deal with depression.
Tip #2: Change your words
Everyone has patterns they live by: You’ve built up dozens of patterns throughout your life that you might not even be aware of and that could get in the way of dealing with depression. Patterns can include the words you use when talking about yourself and how you feel. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on breaking patterns in how you perceive the world around you. Change your negative self-talk with empowering words and you’ve taken a powerful step toward learning how to deal with depression.
Transforming your vocabulary is another way to change your state of being. The biochemical effect of feeling “devastated” or “crushed” is much more negative than “disappointed.” Remember: the words we attach to our experiences become our experiences. Your words matter – both the words you say out loud and the way you speak to yourself internally. When you change your words, you can literally change your life and effectively find ways to deal with depression.
Tip #3: Transform your physiology
Change your body and you change your mood. Being mindful of your body and making adjustments to how you carry yourself is one of the best tips for how to deal with depression. Changing your body includes adopting power poses, like lifting your chest. Seriously – Tony does this exercise in his seminars all the time, and you can try it right now.
Stand up normally. Now lift your sternum just a little higher; there’s a point where you’ll start to feel powerful and confident. Now exhale until your chest lowers and you notice that you start to round your back; can you feel the difference? You can play with lifting your sternum and ribs even higher, but hold the position for a few moments. See what happens to your mood. Feeling more confident and in control? It just took a few physical adjustments in how you held your body to discover a powerful method for dealing with depression.
Tip #4: Get moving
When you’re feeling depressed, exercise seems like the last thing you want to do. But exercise is one of the best ways to deal with depression. Studies have found exercise may even be as effective as medication for some people, and its results are long-lasting. It’s the perfect example of the mind-body connection – when you get your body moving, your brain releases “feel-good” endorphins that change its chemistry, creating a positive feedback loop and improving your mood.
If physical activity feels overwhelming, keep in mind that traditional aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling aren’t your only options. Find a form of exercise you like – walking the dog, weight lifting, yoga, hiking – and you’re much more likely to stick to it. One study even found that just being in nature can help those dealing with depression. Love gardening, nature walks or fishing? Go do it! Start making a positive feedback loop with exercise and you can begin to take charge of your emotions.
Tip #5: Eat right
Exercise isn’t the only thing your body needs in order to know how to deal with depression – eating right is also essential. When you’re depressed, it’s tempting to skip meals and choose sweet or processed foods that are easy to make. But these foods are acidic and can trigger inflammation in the body, which may be one risk factor for depression. A wholesome, alkaline diet with lots of leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and healthy fats from foods like nuts, olive oil and avocados is one of the top ways to deal with depression by bringing balance to the body.
An alkaline diet will also increase your intake of vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have found to be especially essential to fighting depression. Adding fish, legumes, beans and seeds like flax and chia to your diet is a natural mood booster. The field of nutritional neuroscience is becoming more mainstream – further proof of the mind-body connection.
Tip #6: Adopt empowering rituals
Depression often takes away structure in people’s lives, especially due to lack of energy. Establishing an empowering routine that you enjoy is important to regain that structure when dealing with depression. Routines create stability and certainty in your life, even when the world looks bleak. Empowering rituals can also reduce stress, which is a factor in depression. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, the hormone that causes “fight or flight” – and too much cortisol over the long term can cause depression.
A daily meditation practice or yoga routine can be excellent ways to deal with depression by reducing stress and quieting negative voices in your head. Try empowering daily rituals like priming as a way to focus and recenter your state. Tony uses his morning priming ritual to practice gratitude, thinking of moments, situations and people in his life that he’s grateful for. You can also use strategies like writing in a gratitude journal, writing letters or leaving yourself Post-It notes around the house about all the things you’re grateful for. Adopting this abundance mindset is crucial to learning how to deal with depression.
Tip #7: Build your support network
Humans are very social – it’s in our DNA. Connecting with others and having close relationships is a vital part of life and a key to dealing with depression. Creating meaningful connections with others is an important part of creating happiness, and those who are in your close circle have a direct impact on your quality of life. Sometimes the Internet can be a lifeline – but while there are benefits to using social media and other technology, it is still crucial that you turn to real-life interactions when learning how to deal with depression.
Facebook and other social media sites often make us feel worse, not better. Even the hunched-over position we use to look at our phones makes us feel down. Instead of scrolling through status updates, go outside for a short walk in the sun or meet a friend for coffee. Instead of pulling away from your significant other or avoiding a planned get-together, push yourself to interact with your loved ones. Your spirits will instantly lift and your connections will deepen.
Tip #8: Set goals
When you’re in the process of learning how to deal with depression, everyday tasks can seem trivial. Laundry and dishes build up. Dinner is just a microwave meal. Maybe you haven’t been to the store in weeks. But putting things off will only make you feel worse. Write yourself a list and set deadlines for each item – and then stick to them. You’ll improve your energy and confidence just by setting and achieving goals.
Include your new exercise routine and healthy eating habits in your goals. If a task seems too large, break it down into even smaller steps. Sometimes, the first step can be just getting out of bed. Your second goal of the day could be making a healthy breakfast – Tony likes free-range eggs and coconut bread. From there, you might tackle the dishes or do a load of laundry. Take your day step by step and you’ll realize how much you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.
Depression can make everything in life seem more difficult. However, by incorporating the above tips for how to deal with depression, you can take strides toward feeling better and achieving the well-being we all need to thrive.
Depression is serious. With all the resources out there, just knowing where to start can be overwhelming. If you’re thinking about ending your life, call one of the suicide hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (866-205-9848) and 800-273-TALK (877-657-2224). If you have a plan to commit suicide, go to the emergency room for immediate treatment. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. See full disclaimer.