It’s hard for me to talk about difficult times in my life. Often, I simply want to forget it ever happened and pretend like I never had those problems. I felt vulnerable even thinking about them. That’s not how I live my life anymore, and with this post I really want to help those out there with depression.
About two years ago, I was suffering from depression. When I looked up the symptoms of a depressed person, they described me too accurately.
Feeling overwhelmed, I spoke to a family friend, a former therapist, who told me I most likely had moderate depression. I even considered going to another therapist, but ultimately I tried alternative methods to get over it.
At the time, I didn’t think I could overcome depression.
But I did. It took time, (a few months for me) but I managed to become a happier and healthier person.
Here is what worked for me. I hope it can help you.
8 Things That Helped Me Beat Depression.
1. Get Sunlight.
In today’s society, many people hardly ever leave their houses. Some evolutionary psychologists say that this one of the main reasons why so many people are suffering from low moods and depressions.
Warm weather and sunlight causes one’s mood to lift, while staying inside, devoid of sunlight, does the opposite.
There is a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which in common terms means that someone gets depressed only in certain seasons like winter, when it’s cold and dark with less sunlight.
According to a study, “The average citizen in a sunny city like San Diego, averages less than 30 mins of sunlight a day”.
This means that the average person gets even less than that in other areas. Psychologists were surprised when they heard this.
Not only does sunlight give you Vitamin D, but warm, sunny weather definitely lifts your mood. It would be hard for me to stay in a bad mood if I was outside in a nice place.
Does that mean I have to be outside all day if I want to beat depression?
If you hardly ever go outside then start with baby steps.
Baby Steps: Go for a 10 minute walk, or if you live in a house with a backyard just hang out outside for a little bit.
Do whatever you’re comfortable with for now, and then increase the time you spend outside.
2. Make a Proper Sleep Schedule.
A lot of people with depression have trouble sleeping. In fact, it is a symptom of depression. They can have difficulty falling asleep or just sleep too long.
Personally, I had trouble sleeping past a certain time. I would always wake up bright and early at 6 am, regardless of when I went to bed. I ended up feeling tired all the time and frustrated that I couldn’t get rest.
The solution: Plan a set time for when you go to bed everyday, and set an alarm for when you wake up. Ex, (Get in bed at 11:30pm, and set your alarm for 7 am). Overtime your body will adjust to those times.
Even if you can’t fall asleep, try your best to stay in bed until that alarm goes off. In the morning, you shouldn’t linger around and constantly hit the snooze button. That will just set you up for a lazy and unproductive day.
3. Stop Measuring Yourself Against Society.
In our society, we are constantly bombarded with what success should look like, or what we should aim for to truly be happy.
In our youth it is, Money. Sex. Partying. and Drugs.
As an adult its, More Money, a Nice House, a Brand New Luxury Car, and a Beautiful Wife.
Advertising agencies, movies, TV shows, the media, and a whole host of other things have contributed this.They tell a person that they need to have X or Y before they can truly be satisfied with their lives. That’s how they keep society going, they stress the attitude of, “It’s never enough, I could use some more.”
This may sound like some “Hippie Nonsense” to some people, but bare with me here…
I want you to dig deep down and genuinely ask yourself what you want out of life. You need to meditate or just close your eyes, lay down and think for a while.
Is it society that made you want these things?
Or did you truly want them before you were influenced by society?
Would you want these things if other people weren’t there to judge you?
4. Find meaningful activities to do.
If you have nothing to do, you’ll feel like your life has no purpose. If you have nothing set in stone to do during that specific day, you’ll feel depressed.
Start setting up things to do, even small things like going to the store to get some groceries. Getting out of the house can be very beneficial for you.
Go to the gym, pick up a sport, hang out with some friends, go on a date, do some volunteer work at a charity.
For me, one of those activities was starting this website. I had already beat my depression when I started The Former Fat Kid, but keeping it going brings me pleasure, and it gives me something meaningful to pursue.
5. Set goals for your new activities.
If you want to lose some fat, then set that as your goal. Go to the gym a few days a week and start eating at a calorie deficit.
Check out, (How To Lose Fat (Made Simple), if you are struggling or don’t know where to begin.
If you want to get a job to make money, set a certain amount of money as your goal.
Finding hobbies and interests are very important, and if you don’t care enough to set goals for your life, you’ll be depressed again feeling like you have no purpose.
If you want a girlfriend or boyfriend, but you don’t think you’re ready, then set a date for when you will begin dating again. Maybe you want to wait on dating until you beat depression or get a better body. Regardless, don’t give up hope.
You shouldn’t need another person to make you happy.
If you’re a man worried about your looks, read my post, 10 Tips to Become a Better Looking Man. Some of those tips can help women too because a lot of them have to do with taking better care of yourself.
Don’t disinvest because your goals sound too difficult, or not plausible.
I don’t mess around anymore when I have goals. I take them seriously and work my ass off until I get there.
6. Do not isolate yourself.
This is one of the most common symptoms of depression: A person who just sits alone in their house, isolating themselves from the outside world.
Like I said in tips 4 and 5, you need to find a hobby and get yourself out and doing something. Set those goals. Force yourself to go outside. It might be tough at first but it’s the first step.
Don’t be the person like I was who rejects invitations to go to a party, or hang out with some friends because you’re feeling a little down. Isolating yourself only makes it worse.
I know I said that you shouldn’t depend on others for happiness, but that doesn’t mean that you should do everything on your own. A normal healthy and happy person usually spends a certain amount of time each week with other people.
Start scheduling social Interactions and social events. After all, humans are designed to be social creatures.
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
A person suffering from depression is more often than not, harassed by negative thoughts and thinking patterns.
It is very easy to beat yourself up for what you did in the past. It’s even harder to make yourself “Cheer up.”
The next time you make a mistake don’t say, “Fuck, I’m such a fucking idiot, I can’t believe I’m so stupid.” Instead say, “Okay I messed up, we all make mistakes, it’s okay.” Reframe the situation in your mind.
It might seem like that wouldn’t help a lot, but forgiving yourself is a very important variable in beating depression.
There are a few articles on the internet about changing negative thought patterns and cognitive therapies. They show us that when you take the negative thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts, it really does help.
Your thoughts are very powerful. Some psychologists postulate that depression is actually caused by continuous negative thinking patterns. The next time you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop those thoughts right in their tracks.
8. Lift Weights and Hit the Gym.
Getting to the gym can be difficult even for the non-depressed person. But lifting really isn’t that difficult, you don’t even have to lift for more than 30 minutes to get the job done.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about all the benefits you can get from lifting weights or exercising. Not only does weight lifting help you live longer, but you’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll look better, your mood will increase (endorphins), you’ll set goals and see your body change in front of you, and you might even make some friends at the gym.
I know, this is a fitness website and I had to throw it in there. But when I was depressed I also wasn’t exercising very much (maybe twice a month with minimal effort). Once I got back into my routine of training at least 4 days a week, I started feeling a lot better again.
If you’re new to lifting or interested in starting, have a look at (Building Muscle for Beginners).
Weight lifting isn’t just for guys. Women should lift too.
Many women think they’ll get too muscular, and they just want to “get toned.” The reality is women can’t build muscle like men unless they take steroids. Ladies, you won’t look like a man if you lift weights, but you will end up with a great looking body and a new found confidence.
And if for some reason you really don’t like lifting or just aren’t able to, there are other options, namely, cardio or bodyweight exercises (like pushups and situps).
You’re moving in a positive direction if you workout a few days a week.
To Wrap it Up
If you do all of these things you will see progress. But if somehow you’re doing these things and overtime you don’t feel better, it might be time to actually seek professional help.
I wish I had found an article like this, written by someone who actually beat depression themselves, instead of someone who confused a little sadness with depression and all the sudden wrote an article about beating depression.
I beat depression, and so can you. Take my word on that.
Remember, you won’t beat depression in a single day, it takes time, but don’t let that bring you down.
Depression doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you.
Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have personal questions or really need some advice.
Disclaimer: “This article is for educational purposes only, and provides an alternative solution for individuals seeking to treat their depression without medication or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). The author is not a licensed professional, but advises anyone in need to consult a licensed professional if necessary. What you do with this information will be at your own risk.”