Depression is a tough disease to manage. It drains you of energy. It destroys your focus. It makes you not care about anything.
One way to help you manage your depression is to improve your resilience. Resilience is your ability to improve or recover from a setback. That setback can be physical, emotional, or psychological.
When you improve your resilience, you improve your ability to recover when depression drags you down.
Here are some tips for strengthening your resilience.
Physical strength and stamina lead to physical resilience. The better shape you are in, the sooner you bounce back from injury or downtime. Exercise has also been shown to improve your depression symptoms. By exercising, you are getting two for the price of one. You improve your resilience and your symptoms.
Invest in Your Emotional Well-being
There are many parts of life that we all tend to skimp on or overlook even when we are not depressed. We take too much for granted. Our attitude, our relationships, our confidence. To improve your resilience, you need to make a plan to consciously work on those areas and follow through.
When you are depressed, your attitude often suffers. It is hard to look at the bright side of life when you are in so much emotional pain. During times when you are not depressed or when your depression has eased, work on making it a habit to reframe things positively. Your mind will likely still serve up the negative thought initially, but you can train yourself to change that thought. Instead of letting your mind tell you that your day is ruined, look for what can be good about the situation. Stuck in a monster traffic jam? Bonding time with my son. Or if I’m alone, more time to listen to what I want — music, podcast, audiobook, whatever.
Work on your relationships. Much of the meaning and purpose of our lives comes from those we love. Spend extra time with your kid. Brush your cat. Visit an aging relative. Grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Send a “just because” card. Let the people who matter to you know it. Give them your time and attention. Strong relationships can buffer you from the hardships of life, including your depression.
Focus on the things you are good at and make yourself better at them. Those things you excel at will make it easier to build your confidence. Confidence translates into stronger resilience. You will know what you can do. You will know that you can get better.
Learn Things That Will Help Your Resilience
Two main skills will help you with your resilience building. They are problem-solving and emotion-management.
Learning to solve problems will make life easier and boost your confidence. Both of those things will improve your resilience. Figure out the kinds of problems that are common in your life and learn how to solve them. Got money problems? Study budgeting and investing. Regularly get out argued by those who you know are wrong? Study logic and debate. Marriage problems? Study relationship skills.
Strong emotions are hard to control. We drown in sorrow. Destroy in anger. Run in fear. Learning to manage those emotions can be the difference between feeling uncomfortable and being out of control. Learn relaxation, distraction, and disengagement. Use them as the situation warrants.
Figure out ways you can relax and calm yourself. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga. Whatever works for you. If you are freaking out, calm yourself down with your new skills.
Provide yourself with distractions. If you feel yourself getting worked up over something that no good can come from, distract yourself and move on. Keep books or games on your cell phone. Have a texting bestie who you can reach out to for support to redirect your thoughts. Get up and walk away. Tell the person you need a break from the discussion and go for a walk. Or lock yourself in the car and blast some music.
Finally, learn to disengage from the people who upset you. Accept that some people are assholes and sometimes we are in a position where we have to put up with them. If they are a customer, boss, or your child and you just have to deal with them, learn to remove your emotions from the equation. It is not about you. It is nothing personal. They are probably dicks to everyone. The problem is theirs. Don’t let it become yours.
Your life only has the meaning that you give it. Choose to surround yourself with the things and people who have meaning for you. Have a reason to get up in the morning. This will be different for everyone and if feels meaningful to you, then it is valid. It can be your family, friends, pets, job, or hobby. Having something that you feel special toward will build your resilience.
Stronger resilience will help you manage the difficult emotions and problems that come with depression. Make the effort to build your resilience so it can help you when life takes a darker turn.