Overcoming depression can be incredibly difficult. To overcome it, it can require broad-spectrum changes to one’s life and lifestyle. This is what is known as a “holistic approach”; so called because it addresses various aspects of your life, including physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. While it’s important to consult with a mental health professional for guidance and treatment, here are some holistic strategies that can complement therapy and support your journey toward better mental health:
Therapy and Counseling
Therapy has been around since Freud’s advances in the late 19th century. In Freud’s day, the results were very mixed. Roughly 150 years of innovation in the field of psychology and psychiatry mean that the modern incarnations of the practice are much more successful. Evidence-based therapies, like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), have proven extremely effective in treating depression. A trained therapist can help you explore and manage depressive thoughts and behaviors in a safe environment. They can help you manage your feelings and thoughts without judgment and come to a place of deeper acceptance of yourself, your emotions, and your place in the world.
In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage depression. While medication can be quite beneficial and even necessary for improving mental health, prescription medication is not handed out lightly. After consultation and examination, a trained psychiatrist will determine if medication is appropriate for the treatment of your depression.
Lifestyle changes are like gym memberships. Everyone recommends having one, but each one isn’t right for everyone; you get no benefit out of them if you never invest the time, energy, and discipline that they require. But if you, you understand what all the fuss is about. Making healthy lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and ensuring that you get an adequate amount of sleep every night, is crucial to your overall well-being.
- Adopt a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Some nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and folate, may have a positive impact on mood.
- Prioritize good sleep hygiene by establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine and screens before bedtime.
- Explore holistic therapies like acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, or massage. As part of an exercise routine, these practices can promote relaxation and improve overall well-being.
Physical well-being is closely connected to mental health. Take care of both, or you’ll wind up taking care of neither.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practicing mindfulness techniques, meditation, or deep breathing exercises has a long and scientifically proven track record of reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and improving mood regulation. Mindfulness-based therapies, like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), can be particularly beneficial. What’s right for you will not be what’s right for everyone or anyone else. Try out some things and find out what works best for you. You may even surprise yourself and learn a lesson that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
Connect with friends and family members for emotional support. Isolation can worsen depression, so prioritize maintaining social connections. We are social creatures, born and bred for regular interactions with others. Whether you’re interacting with new friends, old friends, or chosen/birth family, the benefits of making and sustaining social ties will flow both ways and make both parties better for it.
Hobbies and Interests
Engage in activities and hobbies that bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. Pursuing interests can help combat feelings of hopelessness and apathy. Find something that’s meaningful to you. It doesn’t have to interest or even make sense to anyone else. But a hobby that gives you a sense of self-definition and keeps you grounded in something that you can do will pay dividends. Try a bunch of things. Stamp-collecting and chess are classics. But great hobbies aren’t great hobbies because they’ve been fulfilling people since before you were born. They’re great hobbies because they fulfill you.
Keep a journal to express your thoughts and emotions. Writing can help you gain insight into your feelings and identify patterns of depressive thinking. It can also grant you access to patterns of your own behavior and emotions that you may notice if you live your life out without a record. Many people who journal find that it relaxes them, and they appreciate the story of their own lives that they write every day.
Set Realistic Goals
Break down tasks into manageable steps and set achievable goals. This can boost your self-esteem and motivation. If you haven’t gotten into the gym in a few years, don’t plan on entering that marathon next month. If you join a book club even though it’s been a decade since you last finished a book, don’t be surprised if your mind starts to wander a few pages. Growth, not results, is the best benchmark. Treating yourself as a person in progress instead of failure too far behind the curve to care about is the only way of not sinking back into depression as you dwell on your perceived shortcomings. Practicing positive self-talk and affirmations to challenge your negative thoughts and build self-confidence.
Remember that overcoming depression is a process that may take time, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare professional to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and circumstances.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to seek immediate help if you experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression is a treatable condition, and with the right support and strategies, you can find hope and healing. At the Reconnect Center, our specialized mental health programs and trained staff offer intensive trauma and mental health treatment for a wide range of conditions. You may not have winded up in pain by choice. But you can choose to heal today. Call us at (310) 713-6739. We’re ready for your call.
If you are ready to talk, we are ready to help. Our mission is to deliver holistic mental health care that addresses trauma with warmth and compassion. We’re ready to engage in conversations about your traumatic experiences and explore ways in which we can support you. Feel free to contact us at (310) 713-6739, and together, we can embark on the journey of unraveling your traumas and taking gradual steps forward.