Is it any wonder that the words “stress” and “depression” appear together so often? If you’re anything like me, these two feelings go hand in hand. When I find myself utterly overwhelmed with stress, depression is almost sure to follow. That’s why the first step you need to take in order to beat depression is to understand and learn how to deal with stress.
Society today tells us that we have to be everyone to everybody. You take care of the kids, try to be a good partner or spouse, and are always there to lend an ear to your friends. Am I right? This is a noble cause, but unfortunately, it leaves little time for you to take care of yourself, which creates the perfect conditions for stress to enter your life.
In order to learn how to deal with stress, you first have to understand what it is. Although it feels like a relentless beast trying to rip you apart from the inside out, stress is actually a normal response to abnormal circumstances. Like physical pain, stress is your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. To be more specific, stress is your internal alert system that you’ve reached full capacity physically, mentally, or emotionally, and you quite literally can’t take anymore!
When stress hits, it’s easy to start feeling like a failure, which of course, opens up the doors for depression to start creeping in. Once you begin entertaining negative thoughts like “I should be able to handle this,” “What is wrong with me?,” or “I’m going crazy,” then you might as well just go ahead and roll out the red carpet for big Mr. D. The key to surviving stress and warding off depression is to know that everyone feels this way from time to time. You’re not crazy; your body is just tired of trying to keep up with all of your good intentions!
To keep stress at bay, make a commitment to practice the following:
You’re not super woman. You really can’t do it all, no matter how bad you want to, and anyone who expects you to is out of touch with reality. The sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be.
• Say No
It’s the hardest thing for good people like yourself to do, but once you’ve prioritized what’s really important to you, the next step is to learn to say no to the rest. If you burn yourself out helping everyone around you, then you won’t have the time or energy to focus on the people who are truly important to you, not to mention yourself.
• Ask for help
When your plate gets too heavy to carry alone and you begin feeling stressed, give yourself permission to ask for help. When you’re used to doing everything yourself, it can be hard to relinquish control to someone else, but this is a skill you need to master if you want to learn how to deal with stress effectively. Plus, allowing someone to help you also allows them to feel the rewards of doing something good for someone else.
Understanding your stress and how it feeds into feelings of depression is a good first step, but in order to really master how to deal with stress and beat depression, you have to be proactive. Practice these three guidelines for a stress-free, depression-free life, and you’ll start to see positive changes in your life, both inwardly and outwardly.