When you are wondering what is the best way to beat depression, it helps to understand that no one solution stands alone. Some methods work better for some people than others, but all of the most effective treatments offer a multi-point approach. With a solid five part framework, you can design a plan that works the best for you.
1. Get Up.
The first step may sound simplistic, but if you’ve been hiding out in bed or wrapped up in a cocoon on the couch, you must get on your feet before change can happen. When depression first hits, you may need some quiet time to regroup and maybe just rest. But you should reach a point when your body instinctively knows that it has huddled up too long. Listen to your body and make a decision to get better.
Getting up is not easy. It may even be the hardest part of beating depression, because all you want to do is hide out and be left alone. But getting up is also your best weapon against the black hole that seems to be dragging you under. Your same mind that seems to have you trapped can also be your most powerful champion, if you give it the task of defeating how you feel.
If you had a grandmother from “old country” it wouldn’t really matter what the problem was. The answer is always “eat”. There is real wisdom here, because if you’ve been in immobile for a while, chances are you are hungry and dehydrated, and your body and mind are both crying out for nutrients. Some turkey or tuna, some fruit, whole grains, and plenty of water will at least get you started. Find a good nutrition book for more details and check our earlier articles on what to eat when you’re depressed. The right foods play a key role in beating depression.
3. Move for 22 minutes.
Depression makes you achy and lethargic, feeling like you don’t even have the strength to stand. But if you can keep moving steadily, such as walking, after a while your body will release the same endorphins that give runners their “high”, and automatically relieve much of your pain.
I can’t say exactly how long it will take you to feel better, shoot for 20 to 30 minutes. It takes me about 22 minutes on a treadmill to go from “I can hardly take a step,” to “I could walk all day”.
Research has shown exercise to be as beneficial as anti-depressants in many cases, and without any side effects. As well as the endorphins, you replenish your oxygen stores, help your blood flow, and feel stronger every day.
4. Think better thoughts.
You may not realize it, but you if you are depressed, you probably already know how to meditate. Unfortunately, you keep meditating on your problems, and simply replaying how bad you feel. Guided meditation recordings can really help here. They take away the need for you to come up with your own more positive thoughts, and they redirect your mind to a better state.
There are often chemical imbalances involved in depression, but still to a large part thinking gets you down, and thinking can get you out. Yes, life may have dealt you a hard blow, but how you decide to react to it is up to you. Change how you think and you can change how you feel.
It is easy when we’re depressed to vacillate between blaming the world for our problems and blaming ourselves for the state of the world. Whatever it is that is beating you down, forgive it. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, and forgive everyone who ever expected you to be. Forgive life for its disappointments, and forgive yourself for disappointing others and yourself.
The more we can forgive, the easier we can breathe, and the more joy we can see. We can relax, we can appreciate all our life experiences, and we can be grateful just to be alive.
Beyond the Framework.
The five parts of this framework are only an outline of what needs to be in any strategy to beat depression. You can adapt it and fill it out as best suits your personality and individual strengths.
Some people are helped by herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort or Sam-E, for short term depression. But check first with a medical professional. Serious, long term or debilitating depression may require a doctor’s care. Even medical treatment will be enhanced if you Get up, Eat, Move, Think, and Forgive.
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