With an estimated 1 in 5 American adults facing mental illness in any given year, this struggle is far more common than you may originally believe. If you are currently living with depression, you are far from alone! Depression is highly treatable, but you need to be prepared to make the necessary changes in your life.
There are many effective professional treatment options for depression, however, even the best mental health care will fall short if you aren’t currently in the right mindset. If you are truly going to break free from these struggles, you have to be willing to make significant changes in your life. After all, your current daily habits have led you to where you are today. You won’t achieve new results doing the same things day in and day out. Are you ready for a change?
Here are 12 simple and effective principles that will enable you to break free from your depression:
#1 – Practice Meditation
We live in a high-demand, fast-paced society, one that is full of negativity, violence, and pain. This can trigger incredibly negative and toxic thoughts, which, in time, can have a significant impact on our overall health and well-being. The best way to manage this is by eliminating these harmful thoughts from our mind through the use of mediation. Daily meditation will not only help you to clear your mind, but it also helps you to establish better focus and perspective of the world around you.
#2 – Start Reading
There are many benefits associated with spending quality time with a good book. This positive influence on your life is only amplified if the books that you are choosing are relevant to your current stage in life. There are many great books available discussing mental health, your ability to overcome depression and ways to live your best life. Find time in your busy schedule each day to curl up with a good book, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
#3 – Engage in Self Reflection
Depression isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Instead, it is highly individual, feeding off past experience, pains, and struggles. In order to break free from this dark cloud, you will have to unpack your baggage and face the pain that you have buried for so long, working through it and, ultimately, releasing yourself from its hold. You may be able to do this on your own, however, if necessary, you can also obtain help from a life coach or mental health professional.
#4 – Remove Toxic Influences
Often when we are trying to deal with our difficulties and challenges in life, we do so through the use of distraction – finding ways to free our mind from thoughts of sadness and depression. However, you need to pay careful attention to what distractions you choose to engage in. There are many toxic influences that, at first glance, appear to be effective coping mechanisms including junk food, drugs, alcohol, social media, television, and sex. Each of these, however, will fail to bring you the feeling of joy and happiness that you see. Don’t settle for toxic influences when there are healthier coping mechanisms available to you.
#5 – Get Active
Speaking of healthy coping mechanism, one great example is the use of exercise to manage your mood. When you are physically active it not only provides you with a distraction from your pain, but it also works to improve your mood. Exercising has been found to trigger the release of ‘feel good’ hormones, activating the pleasure and reward centers of your brain. Whether you’re merely taking a walk around the block, or spending some valuable time at the gym, working out has the power to literally make you feel happier.
#6 – Follow Motivational Speakers
There are some incredible motivational speakers and ‘self-help gurus’ out there that can help you to make the changes necessary to break free form your current situation. Whether you are listening to self-help talks on YouTube or attending live seminars, pay careful attention to the lessons that these individuals are sharing. While not every piece of advice is going to be relevant, there is going to be some small shred of advice that you can take from each and every talk. This is a great way to continue growing and evolving.
#7 – Define the Difference Between You and Your Disease
How often do you hear phrases like ‘I’m depressed’, creating a label out of your disease? Doing so actually traps you in your struggle, robbing you of any control. If you are going to break free from this struggle and establish a happy, healthy life, you must first create a clear differentiation between yourself and your disease. You have depression, you are suffering from depression, but you are NOT depression. Never forget that.
#8 – Accept Responsibility
The only way to break free from the binds of victim thinking is to accept responsibility for your own actions and choices in life. You can work with the best-known professionals and have access to the best mental health care in the country, but you will still fail to overcome this struggle if you don’t first accept your role in your life. Sure, you may have faced some incredibly difficult challenges – but only you have the power to decide how you are going to respond. Rather than allowing your life to be determined by the struggles and pain, make a conscious choice to make a change starting today.
#9 – Create A Routine
There are many little changes and improvements that you will need to implement in your life, and this can quickly become overwhelming. Improve your chances of success by creating a clear schedule that includes time not only for work and play but also for all of the self-improvement efforts that you are looking to employ such as daily meditation, workouts and time to read. Once you have established a schedule, hold yourself accountable, sticking with it even when it’s a challenge.
#10 – Eat Healthy
If you’ve ever heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’, you should know that there is some truth to this statement. The food that you put into your body is your fuel. It stands to reason if you put crap into your body, you are likely going to feel like crap. However, if you fuel yourself with healthy, nutritious foods you will, in turn, feel healthier physically, mentally and emotionally. Avoid fast food, processed foods, excessive alcohol and high levels of salt and sugar. Instead, add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.
#11 – Prioritize Your Soul
We often focus our efforts on our physical, mental and emotional health, but when was the last time that you stopped to consider your spiritual health? The best way to improve your spiritual health is simply by practicing kindness and compassion for others. Try to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Seek opportunities to help people, reaching out to those in need. It’s a win/win situation when someone else is able to obtain the help they need, while also helping to improve your overall well-being.
#12 – Eliminate Toxic Relationships
The people that you surround yourself with will play a large roll in who you become and what you are capable of. Never discount the power of association. If you spend your time with toxic people who engage in gossip, criticism, and negativity, you will start to embrace these toxic habits in your life as well. If, however, you spend your time around positive, uplifting and motivated individuals that are doing something significant with their lives, you will be motivated to rise up and do the same. Step back and take a look at the relationships in your own life. Are they building you up or tearing you down?