Emotions can be difficult to navigate, and when it comes to depression it can feel like nothing will help you come out of the slump you have fallen into – but there are numerous ways to cope with a depressive episode. In the past, speaking of depression and mental health was largely frowned upon and was accompanied by stigma and shame. Today depression and mental health are becoming more of a topic of discussion – especially amongst younger individuals. This may be because there is more research surrounding mental health, more understanding that we are not alone in our mental health struggles, and many individuals experiencing depression and mental health conditions.
Although individuals at every stage in life can experience depression, people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group (camh). Not only does mental illness affect your emotional wellbeing, but due to its symptoms individuals experiencing depression on average had missed 25 days of regular activities in the past year (StatsCan).
If you are experiencing depression, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms to help cope and continue with your daily activities and practices. In this blog we discuss the impact of depression and five activities to help cope with the feelings associated with depression.
IMPACT OF DEPRESSION
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses that an individual can experience. It is a challenging emotional roller coaster that can be difficult to navigate. Not only does it affect your emotional well-being, but it also affects your physical health. The feeling of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness can trigger insomnia, memory loss, weight fluctuations, interruptions with your digestive system, a weakened immune system, and more. In fact, by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness (camh).
Although individuals at every stage in life can experience depression. People aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group (camh). So what can we do to help cope with the feelings and effects of depression?
FIVE ACTIVITIES TO HELP
Depression is a serious mental illness and, as professional counsellors, we advise all individuals to seek professional treatment. In addition to speaking to a professional, there are activities that you can partake in to help alleviate some of the feelings associated with depression. Here is a list of five surprising activities to help cope with the depression:
Spending time outside
The great outdoors may not be for everyone, but for individuals who love to soak up the sun, breathe in fresh air, and romp through the long grasses, spending time in nature can help clear your mind and boost your endorphins (the feel good chemicals in our brains). What activities do we suggest for the great outdoors? You can plan a local hike, spend time gardening at your home or a loved one’s home, go swimming in a pond, lake, or river, visit a local park, or find adventure riding a bike, skateboard, or roller blades.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’” – Sylvia Plath
Self-care at home
If being outside is not for you spending time indoors with some self-care activities may be more your style. Sitting down with a good book, taking a warm bubble bath, or even doing a deep cleanse of your house can help clear your mind and lift your spirits. Whether you want to keep busy with an activity or clear your mind with a fictional book, partaking in self-care activities at home can help alleviate stressors and anxiety.
Explore your city and local businesses
If you are comfortable leaving your home during this time, exploring your local area with a friend or family member may help elevate your emotions. You could visit a local restaurant for the first time, see a comedy at the theatre and enjoy a delicious snack, visit a local small business that creates art from local resources, visit a spa for some self-care, or see a concert with local artists. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can have a huge impact on your emotional state.
Spend time with your friends and loved ones
When experiencing a depressive episode we often feel like we do not want to see other people. Isolation can have a negative impact on your mental health, especially while experiencing depression. If you are feeling alone surrounding yourself with loved ones or your best friend can help increase your mental state. Start small by sharing conversations with your friend or family member over the phone. You can invite a friend to spend time in your home where you are most comfortable or go outside for a walk together.
How beautiful it is to find someone who asks for nothing but your company. -Brigitte Nicole
Therapeutic activities such as yoga, meditation, or listening to music can provide an escape from ruminating depressive thoughts. By clearing the mind and focusing on a physical activity, you can increase your endorphins and your mood. Another great way to clear your mind and find solace in activity could be by making art such as playing an instrument, painting, crafting, colouring, or puzzles. You may feel better and also have some great art to give to your friends and family!
Depression is a serious mental illness that affects many people. In addition to seeking professional help, whether it is a walk in the park, a warm bubble bath, purchasing homemade candles from a local shop, spending time with your best friend, or painting a portrait of your dog, completing some of these activities may help cope with your depression. If you would like to discuss depression with our team or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.