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Creating Healthy Habits to Manage Depression

Posted on November 12, 2019

Making positive lifestyle changes and adopting habits that promote well-being help some MyDepressionTeam members better manage their depression. Many members talk about creating daily routines of short, achievable goals that provide a solid foundation they can return to in times of trouble. They share their experiences with exercise, meditation, therapy, and journaling.

Healthy Habit #1: Exercising
From low-impact walking and yoga, to more vigorous running and cardio, members of MyDepressionTeam say exercise helps them improve mood, motivation and overall mindfulness.

“It’s a good way to get out of your head and focus on moment-to-moment sensations, such as breathing and movement,” one member stated. “My psychiatrist told me that exercise is just as important as taking medications,” another shared.

Physical movement releases endorphins – the body’s “feel-good” hormones - which can help reduce anxiety, stress, and negative feelings that lead to depression. Some members say that even walking the dog has lifted their spirits.

“Exercise saved me from dealing with a long-term depression episode,” wrote one member. Said another, “If I don't walk or exercise, I can get into a real bad funk. Even if I have to force myself to walk, once I get going the hour is pretty easy.”

Getting motivated, however, can be challenging for some people. One member started exercising only after finding a workout he liked and could stick with. “I’m now doing low to no-impact yoga. It brings my body, mind, and soul together. Like anything, it takes time and dedication. But it does work.”

Healthy Habit #2: Meditation
Meditation, which can help manage stress and anxiety, has become an essential practice for many members of MyDepressionTeam.

“I calm down using meditation techniques that ease the knot in my chest and pain in my stomach. Deep breathing and meditation are how I’ve managed to maintain myself through really tough times,” shared one member.

Another member, who had been meditating daily for two months, put his mindfulness practice to the test during a recent emotional challenge. “I put on my meditation music loudly and meditated - which is super hard in the middle of a panic attack - but I made myself do it. Within 10 minutes, I wasn’t anxious anymore and breathing normally! All that practice is starting to pay off! This was the test and I actually passed this time!!!”

Other complementary therapies that members use to combat depression include acupuncture and yoga.

Healthy Habit #3: Journaling
Many MyDepressionTeam members say journaling helps them release emotions and promotes positive self-talk.

“I explore thoughts and feelings in a private place,” said one MyDepressionTeam member who journals when he feels depressed. “Just the act of writing my feelings down, and reviewing or revising my essays, brings me validation, relief, and hope. I let out anger and frustrations instead of bottling them up, then reread past entries to remind myself it’s going to get better.”

Another member found peace of mind keeping a daily gratitude journal. “Every day, write one thing you are thankful for. Could be as simple as ‘I am thankful for getting out of bed.’ The more you do it, the more you will see to be thankful for. I still - and probably will always - have negative thoughts. But the more I practice living in the positive, the easier it gets!!”

Healthy Habit #4: Starting Therapy
Committing to therapy is an important step for members of MyDepressionTeam - but it’s not always easy. “I love my therapist but it took a while to get there,” shared one woman. “It took my kids saying ‘Mom, you’re scaring us,’ to find her. I hope with her help, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Members who’ve experienced the benefits of group or individual therapy encourage others struggling with depression to get help. “Do yourself a solid and seek therapy now,” one member advised another, who posted excuses for not going now. “Why wait until next year? Is that something you want to do for another year? Only you can make that decision.”

Healthy Habit #5: Self-Care
Members of MyDepressionTeam, who are also caregivers, say they often forget to care for themselves, which affects their emotional and physical well-being.

One man, who developed several chronic illnesses because he “didn’t focus on self-care,” shared, “My care team says self-care is my job now. That means going to all my appointments, eating well, meditating, attending a support group, and more.”

Healthy Habit #6: Getting Motivated
The hardest part of creating new habits and changing behavior is getting started, MyDepressionTeam members say.

Some practice repeating a new behavior until it becomes habit. Others get motivated when they’re feeling down by taking small, baby steps. “I force myself to do things just for five minutes,” explained one man. “On really bad days, when motivation is next to none, the five-minute rule helps me feel less overwhelmed.”

Another woman shared: “Creating new habits provides structure and stability, furnishing mileposts to carry me through.”

Having a partner to share activities, experiences, and feelings that may arise, helps get one member motivated. “It can be a family member or friend. A support group is helpful, too.”

Healthy Habit #7: Get Support
Being part of MyDepressionTeam is a source of comfort and support for many members.

“Thanks to this group, I’ve been able to keep dark thoughts and impulses at bay for nine months now,” said one member.

Another member shared: “When depressed, I remind myself this condition is temporary and that I will overcome it. I stay compassionate, give myself credit for handling difficult situations well and forgive myself for blunders and angry remarks. I thank everyone on this team for their support and wish everyone well.”

On MyDepressionTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with depression, members talk about a range of personal experiences including tips for creating healthy habits.

Here are some questions and answers about creating healthy habits:

Here are some conversations about creating healthy habits:

Have another topic you'd like to discuss or explore? Go to MyDepressionTeam today and start the conversation. You'll be surprised how many others share similar stories.

A MyDepressionTeam Member said:

I am currently focused on eating healthy. Cannot focus on much else. One thing at a time. I am going to have surgery soon and have to be in a strict… read more

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