Statistics show that one in every eight Canadians experiences one form of depression at some point in their lives. This mental health condition affects more women because of a variety of reasons. For one, hormonal changes during puberty may increase a woman’s risk of developing depression. Dramatic hormonal changes before or during pregnancy may also trigger depression.
When left untreated, depression can cause many symptoms, namely loss of interest in hobbies or other pleasurable activities, heightened feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and fatigue. These symptoms can make it very challenging for you to become a parent and look after your family.
As a parent, it’s important to exert time and effort to recover from depression. This process isn’t easy, but following the tips listed below can help you stay on track.
1. Stay Connected
Withdrawal from friends and family is a common symptom of depression. However, if you want to recover from this condition, you should fight the urge to isolate yourself all the time. Withdrawal can only deepen depressed mood and trigger excessive feelings of loneliness.
One way to recover from depression is to reach out to people who understand your condition and spend as much time with them. This might be difficult at first, but staying connected can help you maintain a healthy perspective in life and motivate you to sustain your efforts in beating depression.
There are many ways to reach out for depression support, such as:
- Looking for support from people who care about you: The individuals you talk to don’t have to be experts in depression or mental health. You just need someone who knows how to listen attentively without judging or distracting you.
- Prioritizing face-to-face meetings: Video calls and texts are a great way to communicate, but nothing beats meeting people personally. Find the time to personally meet with your friends and family to reconnect. Face-to-face meetings can help you relieve symptoms of depression and keep stress at bay.
- Becoming a pet owner: Looking after a pet is a great way to experience companionship 24/7. When you have a cat or dog around, you’ll also feel less isolated and experience the sense of being needed all the time.
- Initiating conversations: If you choose to avail of inpatient treatment programs for depression, muster your confidence and initiate conversations with the people in the facility. This will help you create lasting friendships, making your sessions at the facility more enjoyable.
2. Focus On Your Overall Health
Sticking to a healthier lifestyle may improve your mood, which may eventually help reduce or minimize the symptoms of depression. However, living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy, especially if you have to look after your family and children.
The key to successfully focusing on your health is to avoid doing everything at once. For example, if you want to exercise regularly, start by adding 15 minutes of workout to your daily routine, and, then, gradually increase the intensity and duration as you go along. Once exercising has become innate to you, start working on your diet and sleeping habits.
Here are some lifestyle tips you can incorporate into your daily routine so you can easily combat depression:
- Prioritize exercise: Several studies prove that exercising regularly may boost your mood and help you sleep better. When starting an exercise program, remember to start slow to avoid injuries. If you don’t regularly exercise in the past, start taking walks around the neighbourhood with a friend. Once your body has adjusted to taking on physical activities, you can progress to jogging, running, and even trekking.
To make it easier for you to exercise regularly, find activities that you actually love. For example, if you love spending time in the water, try swimming. If you’re a nature lover, spend more time trekking or hiking.
- Sleep well: People with depression will often have unhealthy sleeping habits. Some might sleep too much, while others have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
Sticking to healthy sleeping habits is a must if you want to recover from depression. This means sleeping and waking up at the same time every day, avoiding naps during the daytime, and removing distractions from your bedroom. You should also prepare your bedroom for sleeping by playing soothing music and lighting scented candles.
- Eat a healthy diet: Studies show that specific diets may help you recover from depression. For example, sticking to a Mediterranean diet can reduce the inflammation in your body, making you less susceptible to experiencing the symptoms of depression. This type of diet will require you to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, as well as less red meat and highly processed foods.
3. Avoid Alcohol And Drugs
Depression can urge people to use alcohol and drugs to cope with symptoms. Alcohol and drugs can cause the brain to produce small bursts of endorphins and other neurotransmitters, creating a sense of pleasure or euphoria.
However, alcohol and drugs will only worsen depression in the long run as your body eventually develops immunity from the effects of these substances. This means that you need to increase the amount of alcohol and drugs you take to regularly experience their benefits. This can adversely affect your bodily functions and exacerbate depression symptoms.
For one, alcohol and drug abuse can lower the serotonin in your brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood. The lower levels of serotonin you have in the brain, the more depressed you’ll be. Alcohol and drug abuse can also disrupt your sleep pattern, making it more difficult for you to get healthy sleep every night.
4. Get A Dose Of Sunlight Every Day
In order to recover from depression, you don’t need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle—spending more time outdoors and getting a daily dose of sunlight is enough. Sunlight actually impacts your mental health in different ways, allowing you to minimize depressive symptoms.
One study showed that exposing yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes every day may improve your mood as it increases the serotonin in your body. Sunlight may also stave off symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or SAD, especially when combined with other medical and professional treatments.
Make the most out of the sunlight by doing the following:
- If you have a full-time job, spend your lunch break outdoors. You can take a walk or enjoy an alfresco meal.
- You can experience more benefits from the sunlight by exercising outside. Depending on your preferences, you can hike, walk, or play golf from 10 AM to 3 PM as the sun is intense during these times.
- Even if you only stay at home, you can still enjoy the benefits of the sunlight by opening drapes and blinds, or spending more time near windows.
5. Challenge Negative Thinking
Do you often feel weak and powerless? Are you worried that something terrible will happen and you can’t protect yourself from it? Do you feel that you’re in a hopeless situation? All of these thoughts are symptoms of depression. Over time, these might cause you to question yourself, your qualities, and what you can expect for the future.
You can recover from depression when you learn how to identify negative thoughts and replace them with a balanced way of thinking. Once you determine that you’re thinking unrealistically or negatively, cross-examine your thoughts. For example, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there other alternative explanations to why I feel this way?
- Is there any evidence that my thoughts are true or untrue?
- How would I comfort my friend if she had the same thought?
- What could be my perspective about this situation if I didn’t have depression?
Cross-examining will allow you to test the credibility of your negative thoughts. Once you prove that these thoughts are only triggered by your depression and aren’t real, you’ll be surprised how easy it’ll be for you to eliminate pessimism.
Regularly cross-examining your negative thoughts will help you develop a more balanced perspective every day. Over time, this may be an easy yet effective way of relieving symptoms of depression.
6. Give Yourself A ‘Time Out’ Every Day
As a parent, you need to balance your time and energy between taking care of your family and improving your mental health. Juggling these two responsibilities can get overwhelming at times and might even worsen your depression.
Another way to recover from depression is to give yourself a ‘time out’ every day. This is when you spend time all by yourself, relaxing and doing anything that’ll recharge your mental battery. A timeout of 15 minutes per day can go a long way in clearing your mind, reducing stress, and minimizing the frequency of the symptoms of depression.
Always Get Professional Help For Depression
Your efforts to recover from depression can bring better results if you work with professionals. Psychologists and psychiatrists can properly assess the severity of your condition and create appropriate courses of action.
With their help and your determination, it won’t be long before you can recover from depression and live a better life. Having good mental health will make it easier for you to look after your family and become the best parent to your children.