Whether you’ve been struggling with depression for months or years, you may think it’s impossible to enjoy life again.
Its symptoms have colored your life. Fatigue, loss of interest, isolation, and sleep problems may have taken away things you used to like doing. Navigating the responsibilities of each day requires tremendous effort.
Perhaps you feel trapped in a tiring cycle of work and chores. Maybe all you can do when you have free time is slump onto the sofa to watch television or huddle with your phone.
But there are things you can do to find enjoyment, even when you’re still amid your diagnosis.
1. Practice Gratitude
The idea of keeping a gratitude journal has become a popular one. You may hear the idea so often that you roll your eyes and dismiss the notion. But there’s a reason it’s so commonly recommended—it works.
Start anywhere, with whatever writing tools you have on hand. List the things you are thankful for, no matter how small. Like many people, you may find yourself genuinely breathless at the significant bits of joy and beauty in your life as your list grows.
The simplest of things can mean the most: clean air and water, the way the sunshine angles in the windows, the cheerful song of a bird, etc.
While you can certainly make your list electronically, writing with pen on real paper provides a helpful physiological connection. The act of writing on paper is shown to help us recall and retain information longer. Choosing a favorite pen and notebook can add a special touch to this ritual.
2. Spend Time Outdoors
In our modern world, it’s easy to spend most of our time indoors. Home, work, school, gym, restaurants, and bars—much of our work and interactions happen in buildings. We come to love climate-controlled environments that allow us to avoid being too cold or hot.
The natural world, though, offers tremendous peace. Finding a way to be outdoors and to quietly observe what you see can provide a gentle sense of contentment.
This approach can be as simple as sitting on a park bench or even walking around the block Notice the sunshine, feel the breeze, observe other people and animals.
Researchers have found that soil contains compounds that are natural antidepressants. When you walk outdoors, even the small amount of disturbance your feet make on the ground help kick these compounds up.
Also, sunlight offers Vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient for nervous system health.
Yes, you’ve probably heard it countless times. Like many who struggle with depression, finding the motivation to exercise can be nearly impossible. When you feel wiped out already, why do you want to get on a treadmill or leave the house?
But any exercise, even a short walk, is beneficial for both mental and physical health. It increases natural levels of feel-good hormones and raises the heart rate.
Plus, it aids with better sleep and digestion. You may feel more energized and motivated even by a few minutes. These are all good things when you’re depressed.
4. Simplify Your Life
Again, this is a hot tip. But cutting back on an overloaded schedule can help make room for you to slow down and take the time for other things that help you feel better.
Are there any responsibilities you can reduce, even if temporarily? Can you find a way to prepare meals ahead of time, so you have less stress in the evening?
Once you manage to simplify even a bit, use that free time to take care of yourself. Seek out small pleasures that create endorphins. A hot bath, mindfulness meditation, a peaceful walk outdoors, or a meal with loved ones are all small ways to nurture your body and your mind.
As impossible as it may seem, you can find ways to enjoy life, even when living with depression.
If you’re struggling, working with a therapist also offers excellent benefits during this time. At Crossroads we have several counselors who specialize in treating depression and would love to speak with you about how we can help you move forward.
We offer a complementary 20-minute phone consultation. Our Relationship Centers are located throughout the valley with counseling centers located in Phoenix, Anthem, Biltmore, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale. If you are ready to take the next step to find relief from depression call us at 623-680-3486 or text 623-688-5115. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.