In my last post on self-managing depression I set the scene for depression recovery by mentioning realistic goals, the need to accept change and the importance of a growth mindset. In this post I’m moving things forward a little, and ‘little’ is the operative word. Even mild depression is accompanied by an energy drain. The last thing you want is a list of must-do’s in order to feel the benefit. Still, if you are reading this with a little interest it perhaps means you’re ready to try something, so here are my tips to help things along.
1. Start small. You can’t simply jump back in the saddle. If you try, you’ll probably fail, and then it’s back to square one. It’s much better to be gentle with yourself and think in terms of small steps or goals you can achieve. If you set a goal of say 10 minutes of housework then just do that. If the task you have in mind seems a bit complex or will take a while then break it into smaller components. You may have energy reserves and if you do, apply these to something enjoyable.
2. Reconnect. I’ve got two things in mind. First, because depression has a way of undermining confidence and depleting motivation you could do worse than spend a little time reminding yourself about what you did and enjoyed doing before depression. People fortunate enough to escape depression won’t really understand this, but you do. Don’t be defined by depression. It’s perfectly safe to reconnect with previous activities, to nurture friendships and reconnect with loved ones.
3. Move. It’s a constant theme of mine and I make no apologies for returning to it. A little exercise is just so beneficial, but don’t let the word exercise put you off. Get some fresh air into those lungs. Just a gentle stroll, a little window shopping or feed the ducks something to get the heart pumping and encourage you to look around and reconnect with life.
My suggested time frame for this is around two or three weeks. Don’t worry about days when energy or motivation slips, that’s just how it can affect some people. If you’re doing this daily and are feeling the benefits then it’s maybe time to take another step - which I’ll be covering soon.
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Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.