Tips to Stay Well
A variety of factors contribute to your feeling of wellness, including your physical, mental and emotional health. The following tips are ways to make small changes in your everyday life that can contribute to improving your overall well-being.
Be patient with yourself. Chances are your depression didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to go away overnight either. Change takes time.
Spend time with other people. Suffering alone won’t help. Spend time with friends and family who are supportive and encouraging. Talk with people who have some experience with depression. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to, check out our resources page to find someone you can talk to in your area.
Cut back on drinking. Alcohol may seem to help for a few minutes, but ultimately, it can increase your problems. If you aren’t sure if you drink too much, visit www.alcoholscreening.org.
Get some exercise. Several studies have found that exercise may be as effective as anti-depressant medications. To begin with, try 20-30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. In the short term, it can provide an immediate boost to your mood, while the long-term benefits of improving your physical health can boost your feelings about yourself.
Take care of your body. Getting good nutrition is key to managing your physical and mental health. In addition, some research shows that stress causes the body to use B and C vitamins too quickly. Taking supplements (with your health care provider’s approval) may help you cope better.
Do something you enjoy. Even if you have to force yourself, do something that you used to do for fun. It doesn’t matter whether it’s seeing a movie, going to a ball game, taking a walk around the block, or having sex, just do something you enjoy!
Set realistic goals. Setting the bar too high – and then not reaching it – can feed your negative feelings and hurt your confidence. Break tasks into smaller pieces and celebrate each accomplishment on your way to achieving your larger goal. Give yourself credit for what you do accomplish, not what you don’t!
Prioritize. Determine what your most important tasks are and which can wait –not everything needs to be taken care of immediately. And when deciding what needs to get done, remember the previous tip about setting realistic goals.
Hold off on making any major decisions. Wait until you’re feeling better to make any big moves.
Get Some R&R. Try to get at least 6—and not more than 8—hours of sleep each night. During the day, give yourself some downtime, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. Take a walk, meditate, read or try relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, massage and acupuncture.
Breathe. Taking a deep breath is a simple way to calm down and take control. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, making your belly—not your chest—rise and fall. Inhale for five seconds, hold for one, exhale for five, hold for one, and repeat.
Watch caffeine intake. If you’re drinking more than three cups of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages, gradually cut back your consumption.
Quit smoking. If you’re having trouble quitting by yourself, or if you’ve quit and gone back to smoking, talk to your health care provider to see if you could benefit from one of the prescription medicines that help people get off and stay off cigarettes.
Don’t self-medicate. Abusing illegal or prescription drugs damages your health and raises stress levels.
Try not to worry about things you can’t control. Like the weather, events in the news or someone else’s driving habits. Spend less time looking backwards.
Adapted with permission from Men’s Health Network: Your Head: An Owner’s Manual. (PDF)