15 Strategies to Fight Depression: Make happiness a goal (and not an elusive, random occurrence)
We all want to be happy. The problem is, we don’t always know how to get there. We have so many different sources of stress in our lives, and we are surrounded by negativity on social media and the news.
Speaking from my own experience, I often have to choose happiness moment by moment rather than taking on the entire day.
This blog post will discuss why it’s crucial for you to make happiness a goal (and not an elusive, random occurrence) and how you can do that.
Wake Up and Be Present
Be mindful of the moment instead of dwelling on negative thoughts or letting your mind wander and drift. Eckhart Tolle explains it as “Living in the now.”
In his book ‘The Power of Now,’ he explains that the past is no longer “real,” and the future is an illusion, so the only reality is now.
And although we may feel depressed, we can often ask ourselves if we have a problem NOW, at this moment. If we can not look back (regret) and avoid looking too much forward (fear), then we can often find peace in the present moment.
This concept has helped me.
Get Up Earlier
You may not consider yourself a morning person. But research has shown that people who wake up earlier tend to be happier than those who hit the snooze button a couple of times.
And when you’re not feeling well-rested, it’s much easier for unhappiness to set in, so make time for sleep and try waking up at least 15 minutes earlier each day until your alarm feels less jarring.
I don’t need an alarm because I have a 4 AM Wake UP call from my CAT! As long as I went to bed early, I’m grateful for the early morning.
It’s peaceful. I have my coffee, computer, and my favorite blanket with me sitting in my massage chair.
No matter how cranky I wake up, mornings are sacred. To me, “hope” comes with the morning, where “hopelessness” comes with the dark.
That being said, nobody better talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.
Surround Yourself with Light
If you can, get some natural sunlight whenever possible. I feel so much better sitting by my window while I work, allowing the sun to pour in.
Your depression may cause you to avoid the light. But it’s essential to get some.
Turn on the lights in your home. I keep a salt lamp nearby even though the Vegas sun where I live keeps my home well lit.
There are unique lamps that help you get the Vitamin D you need in less sunny areas that can help fight depression.
Take a Walk Outside
The fresh air, the sunshine — all of this can help you feel better and more energized. Even an evening stroll around your neighborhood can have remarkable effects on your mood.
I call my daily walk my “gratitude walk.” I don’t take a podcast with me to play or fast-paced music. Instead, I focus on things I’m grateful for. If it’s a tough day, I start with the simple things.
I’m grateful for the sweatshirt that is keeping me warm on this walk. I’m thankful for the time I carved out for myself to take a walk.
I’m grateful for the morning coffee that fueled me before the walk. I’m grateful for the new walking shoes that are healing my 49-year-old sore feet.
Once I start the gratitude, it tends to flow, and before I know it, I’m feeling much better. It’s hard to feel depressed and grateful at the same time.
Set The Right Goals
We all have goals we want to achieve. But if they feel unattainable or too far away, this can only lead us into more depression!
It would help if you had something attainable on the horizon so you know how close happiness is (even though it’ll take hard work) because then there’s some hope of getting there.
In my life, I have found the darkest days to be when I feel “hopeless” about a situation or life in general.
If your goals are too big, break them down. You can’t change a mountain without taking it one step at a time.
And the same goes for your life goals!
When we get discouraged, our minds often focus on all of the challenges ahead and forget about what needs to be done today to make progress tomorrow. This thought process leads us right into negative thoughts — and then depression.
Instead, take things day by day as you work towards your goal! Celebrate small wins as they come because while they may seem insignificant now, each victory will add up over time until finally there’s nothing but positivity left (remember that quote: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”).
If your goals are too small, you may begin to feel that there is nothing worth “going” for anymore. You may need to create something new and exciting that will challenge you.
Boredom can undoubtedly be depressing in a TYPE A personality.
It might be time to reactivate that social life. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make new friends, either near or far.
If there’s a particular hobby you’re interested in but have been neglecting for the sake of your depression, it might be time to get back into that game!
Think about joining an organization where like-minded people are involved with things they love — you’ll find connections and companionship alongside your passions.
You don’t need much more than one other person to make this happen! Join a book club, take up painting lessons, go on hikes; anything goes as long as you enjoy what you do!
I picked up genealogy and love it. There is something about the history and connections that I love. It also feeds my passion for logic puzzles.
I have now discovered that eating bad is the worst thing I can do for a balanced mood. And the one food that affects me most is sugar!
Eating healthy is not just about looking good in your swimsuit but also feeling great. The food you eat can significantly impact how you feel, and it’s worth investing some time into making healthier choices for meals each day.
A little goes a long way when it comes to eating better — you don’t need to overhaul your diet overnight!
It may be helpful to start by replacing one unhealthy meal with something more nutritious or swapping out junk food snacks for fresh fruit; eventually, these small changes will add up over time.
Certain foods are known to increase dopamine which is a mood booster.
Some of these dopamine-increasing foods are dairy selections like milk and eggs, dark chocolate, bananas, nuts, and foods high in Omega-3’s like fish.
I also picked up an herbal tea habit. I’ve found that certain teas improve my mood. I love the “Menopause Tea” from Full Leaf Tea, The Live Fit green tea, and the Stress Tea (to name a few).
I also take a daily supplement.
Music certainly has a way of turning a mood around. Music is a personal thing, so find what works for you.
For me, it’s upbeat music I can dance to. It helps if the song has positive messages and reminds me of something I’m grateful for in my life. I’ve been known to blast the Transiberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells Christmas song in the middle of the Summer.
Some people like listening to instrumental songs or instrumentals only. I enjoy fast-paced violin music when I’m cooking in the Kitchen. I also find church hymns soothing in the Kitchen and those are usually “hummed-hymns.”
Watch a Feel-Good Movie
I don’t know about you, but when I get depressed, true crime and Netflix binges like “The Sinner” are what I naturally gravitate to. They are dark. And of course, that one thing we want is the last thing we should do when we are feeling dark!
Depression days are the days to find a feel-good movie or show. It may take you a bit to get into it, but when it does, you can be swept away and suddenly realize how great you feel.
My recent binges have included: Bridgerton, Anne of Green Gables, and Relative Race.
One of the best ways to turn around a bad mood is to get that adrenalin going and get those endorphins.
I’m not talking about crazy intense workouts unless you love them. Just get your heart rate going by doing cardio and strength-training exercises for 20–30 minutes. You’ll feel better in no time flat!
The satisfaction of knowing you did something good for yourself can boost the mood on its own.
Take a Bath or Shower
It wouldn’t be a strange day for me to have two bubble baths during the day. A hot bath is a guaranteed way to feel relaxed after just a few minutes.
It can help you decompress, and the warm water relieves stress on your muscles which is a bonus if you are getting in those walks and workouts.
I like to turn on a 15-minute talk through meditation and try to be focused on the experience. It’s incredible how much better you can feel after letting go of the resistance.
Watch an Uplifting Youtube Video
You might think it’s cheesy, but it works. Depending on my energy level, I seek out videos by Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks, Oprah, and Tony Robbins, to name a few.
I also enjoy interview-style Youtube videos with positive storylines and messages.
I probably should have started with this one. It’s one of the simplest ways to shift a mood, and yet one thing depressed people tend not to want to do.
When you are depressed, getting dressed can be an overwhelming thought.
On days I get dressed, I feel better. On days I put on makeup, I feel better. On days I dress up, I feel unstoppable.
Get a Massage
For me, a great massage helps keep anxiety low. It gives me something to look forward to and something to be grateful for.
I use that time to meditate, quiet the mind, say affirmations, and visualize positive goals, dreams, and things I’d like to manifest.
Today I was brought to tears during my massage as I recounted the manifestations that were all visualized initially on the massage table and are now a reality.
I’ll just say it. Massages are Magic.
Coming from a history of family depression, the darkest kinds, I know that sometimes, we just can’t pull ourselves out of it.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. My suggestion is to reach out to a professional.
Our friends and family want to help, but it will be challenging for them if they don’t understand depression.
Find a counselor, a minister, a teacher, or someone you trust.
Know that you are not alone. Depression is tough. The world we are living in today is more uncertain than it ever has been. Anxiety is at an all-time high.
We have to choose happiness over suffering and do anything in our power to fight off depression and choose joy.
Having a positive mindset and taking the initiative to be happy is the best way to combat depression.