According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)” (DBSA).
THAT IS JUST IN THE UNITED STATES! Perhaps you find yourself among those 15 million people. You are not alone.
I want to start off by saying, that I am by no means a psychologist or anywhere near being able to give medical advice for a clinical condition. But I do know that everyone at some point in their lives have been depressed or on the brink of depression.
For me, depression strikes when I am bored or only focused on myself. I tend to dwell on my circumstances or my identity too much and then bam! I feel the weight of it all and shut down. We were not created to carry heavy burdens alone. I know some people feel like they can’t even get out of bed most days, or that their life isn’t worth living. Again, I am not a psychologist, but here are 10 tips to Deter Depression. These are personal tips, as I practice these almost daily. As many of you know, I am in a stand still season of life right now, and my demons tend to sneak up on me when I am bored or alone. Hope these tips help!
10 Tips to Deter Depression:
1. Find a routine.
Wake up at the same time each day. Stretch, go on a walk or run, do yoga, open your Bible, journal, eat a yummy breakfast. Do this all before you check Facebook or Instagram. I promise it makes a difference.
2. Get involved in a healthy community.
You are the sum of the people you surround yourself with. Maybe it’s a gym (shout out to TFMelbz), maybe it’s a running group, yoga class, tennis team (my parents won’t let me join theirs’), or a Bible Study. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Any sort of exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are God’s gift to us! They are our “happy hormones”. They are our body’s natural morphine-like substance. Who doesn’t like morphine?! …I mean… ehem endorphins. I know nobody wants to work out, but afterwards you always feel better! Start off small! Maybe it’s a swim in the pool or walk in the park.
4. Discover new hobbies or set a goal to work towards.
Maybe it’s writing a book, running a marathon, starting a business, traveling to Australia, or maybe it’s finishing a 5,000 piece puzzle (me lol). Whatever it is, set a goal that you can attain small victories along the way! No sense in starting a hobby that stresses you out even more. If you like to fish, go fish.
5. Connect with a counselor or mentor.
Like I said before, we weren’t meant to carry heavy burdens alone. It always helps if we can share our struggles with someone. Especially someone who has been through what you have been through. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11) We all have struggles, no one is perfect. We just act like it, so that we don’t get embarrassed. Maybe that’s our problem. You will be surprised that when you share your crap with others, they often say “hey, me too!”.
6. Meet at least once a week with a friend or a group of friends.
This gives you something to look forward to! This is different than just joining a Bible study. I know this sounds sacrilegious. But not everything has to be a study of theology. Maybe you meet a friend(s) for coffee once a week or get a group together to go see a movie, or even a group of friends to go on a short camping trip once a month. I know we all lead busy lives, but prioritizing group time can really help defeat loneliness. (Jesus had His inner circle Peter, James, and John to escape crowds and isolation)
7. Be honest
…with those around you, tell them you are struggling. Stop with the pride and let down your mask. Holding everything in only harms you.
8. Find a church.
Church is not just a building, as you may know. Worshiping with other believers and listening to a Pastor teach on Scripture and speak life over you is very freeing. People in church are just as jacked up as we are, so it’s nice to see those people once a week ?
9. Limit secular music.
I almost avoided this tip, but like I said these are things I do, and I am sharing them to help- not tell you what to do! I tend not to listen to secular music when I am alone. I am not by any means saying you are a heathen for listening to secular music… I mean c’mon… everyone knows I love Drake and Ariana Grande etc. (with discretion)
However, when I am alone, the subliminal messages seem to creep in my thoughts and my mind tends to wander. I personally recognize that in my own life, when I am with a group of people I am more focused on who I am with and having a good time, than the lyrics from a secular upbeat song. This doesn’t mean only play Chris Tomlin, Bethel, or even Lecrae when you are alone… Let me be clear, I am not talking about not listening to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey…
I am mainly referring to songs like “rockstar” by Post Malone. Something about, these lyrics don’t help me when I am alone:
“Cocaine on the table, liquor pourin’, don’t give a d*mn
Dude, your girlfriend is a groupie, she just tryna get in
Sayin’, “I’m with the band”
Ayy, ayy, now she actin’ outta pocket
Tryna grab up from my pants”
***Not trying to shame anyone, or say I am perfect. This song has a great beat. Mind you, people have their own convictions. I am just trying to be raw and honest about my own struggles. When you are alone, anything can happen. (Philippians 4:8) Use discretion! And if you are a mom reading these lyrics and claim you’d smack your child for listening to this music, just remember who you were in the 70’s listening to rock ‘n’ roll and your parents thought you were going to hell. Take a deep breath!
10. Pray pray pray!
Praying sounds like some sort of chore or formulated response to God. But honestly prayer is a conversation where you can be completely yourself. The parts you want to fix and hide from others has already been exposed to your Heavenly Father, so drop the act. Save that for your Facebook posts. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Again, I am not saying these tips are a cure for depression, but these practices have helped me deter depression. If you are on anti-depressants, see a counselor, or are part of a support group please do not stop based on this post! I have a personality that is prone to depression, anxiety, and OCD… especially if I don’t have much going on. But these 10 things help keep me in check and focused on Heavenly Realms. As always remember that Jesus conquered the grave, not to pass judgment BUT to save us from sin, death, our demons, depression and our own self destruction. He is the ultimate Healer and Counselor. Love to you all!