Fighting Depression by Restoring Your Routines
When we have depression, one of the things we drop from our lives is a routine. Most humans need routine as it adds structure to our lives. During bouts of depression we find it hard to go about our daily lives with a sense of purpose and direction. Restoring your routines will help to counteract this problem.
Even the simplest things can appear to be beyond us and therefore get put aside. When this happens, we are in fact, only moving further away from a “normal” life.
To reclaim a normal life, return to doing normal things.
A major effect of depression is a feeling of losing control over ones life. We start to feel that everything is happening “to us” rather than through the choices we are able to make. By reinstating your routines you can begin to regain more control.
Start by writing a list of the day-to-day activities that you may no longer participate in.
I include a few simple suggestions below and possible remedial action you might take for each.
1) Brushing your teeth. Clean your teeth twice a day and use a mouthwash. There ARE going to be times when you smile, so make sure you are prepared! Even if the smile is accidental, there is no point in having a piece of lettuce between your teeth.
2) Remain well groomed. For men this would include having a shave every day, for women, putting on make-up (I know of some men and women who need both!). Trim your fingernails.
3) Personal cleanliness. Have a shower every day and use a deodorant, after-shave, cologne or perfume.
4) Clean clothes. Put on fresh clothes every day. Make sure your clothes are ironed; even if someone else usually irons on your behalf, taking charge of your own ironing will help in your recovery.
5) Eat sensibly. A loss of ones appetite, especially for sensible foods, is very common. Make the effort to eat as much fresh fruit, vegetables, fibre and nutrients as possible. If you find that your stomach is in a knot and the thought of eating fills you with dread, try taking these things in the form of a drink. Use a food blender, juice extractor or similar. There is a wide variety of these machines on the market. Adding an appropriate multi-vitamin supplement to your daily diet can also help. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a food treat now and again, just be careful not to overdo it. “A little of what you fancy does you good”, with the emphasis on “little”.
6) Get out as often as you can. Even if, at times, all you think you can manage is going out into the garden, then you are, at least, getting some fresh air and a bit of sun on your face. Exercise is a great way to lift your spirits, so even going out to post a letter will help.
7) Keep in touch with family and friends. Losing touch with our loved ones leaves us feeling more isolated so make the effort to meet up with those people you care about and who care about you. Even if you feel that you can’t manage to see anyone face-to-face, phone them, write a letter or use email. If you don’t want discuss your life with people you know, you could consider the likes of internet forums as an outlet for expression. Talking to strangers is often easier.
8) Look after your personal environment. Housework not only improves the look of your surroundings but also provides good, low level exercise.
9) Don’t get bored. Do ANYTHING to fill in that gap. Do a crossword, read a book or magazine that you find interesting, polish the silver, polish your shoes, shave the cat. Just do SOMETHING. Make it an activity you have to concentrate on so that your thoughts are, at least temporarily, distracted from the depression. Even 5 minutes of concentrating on another subject is a welcome “holiday”.
Now turn your list into an action plan. Take the points you have noted down and make a chart with all the various activities you have listed. Each day, tick off each step as you go. Not only will taking positive action improve the way you feel, but by showing to yourself that you ARE taking action to defeat the depression, you will give yourself a well deserved feeling of achievement.