Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Be Happy: 4 Ways I Combat Depression

I've had my fair share of days where I couldn't get out of bed. I would sleep for as many as 16 hours and still end up taking a nap soon after. I'm sure there were many times when my roommate thought I was dead, and honestly speaking, I felt like I was. When I could get out of bed, it was hard for me to feel anything and I was too unmotivated to try. There are, however, at least four ways I was able to put a smile on my face even if for a little bit.

Hanging out with friends. 
I know this sounds counterintuitive to someone struggling with depression. The last thing I wanted to do when I was depressed was talk to my friends, let alone hang out with them. I alienated them so much that they were actually hurt and upset by it, and I felt awful knowing that I had done that to my friends. I had to force myself to do things with them, whether it was going out to eat or just going across the hall to their dorm room. When I did, though, I had a really good time. They were there for me if I wanted to talk about my problems, and they took my mind off things if I didn't. Whether we played Uno, studied for exams, or sat around and did nothing, I felt a lot better than I did when I was left alone to think about how much my life sucked. Even if the improvement was temporary, it was worth it.

Eating a food I love.
Food and sadness usually shouldn't mix, especially for someone like me who is heavy to begin with, but everyone needs to eat. Why not enjoy something you absolutely love? Familiar foods can be a great way to boost your mood. Whether you crave chocolate cake or delicious pasta (one of my favorites), indulging yourself may be one of the easiest ways to feel better when everything else sucks. If you're having appetite troubles (I barely ate for two weeks once my depression came back), this may be one of the harder things to accomplish. Try getting a small serving if that's all you can manage to eat. Just being able to taste something familiar and delicious will help your mood.

Writing for myself and others.
I love to write. Expressing myself and airing out my problems has helped me during my darkest times. Whether it's a blog post, a poem, or even just a tweet, it never fails to ease the burden and pain of depression for me. It doesn't have to be a public outlet. In fact, just writing for yourself is one of the best things you can do. I have pages upon pages of poems that have never been read. I haven't even read most of them apart from when I wrote them. It doesn't matter if you intend to show anyone; what matters is that you're taking your emotional pain and turning it into something you can understand. So go ahead and vent your frustrations. Write a blog, a poem, or a 160 character message about what's bothering you. Tell your story, even if it's only to yourself. If you do feel like sharing, I'd love to read what you have to say. Please leave a comment or email me at It can be private, or I would be happy to share it on my blog. Just do yourself a favor and let it all out.

Listening to music.
This may be an obvious suggestion, but I think sometimes people underestimate the power of music. Everyone has different music that helps get them through rough times. Some people prefer happy, upbeat music that contrasts their feelings of hopelessness. Others, such as myself, prefer music that reflects how crappy they really feel. Whether you're listening to your favorite band or someone you've never heard before, finding songs that make you feel something in an otherwise bleak situation can be the difference between living with depression and recovering from it. One song that has really helped me as of late is "Porcelain" by Red Hot Chili Peppers from their album Californication. Whether you listen to music for the words or the melodies, do yourself the favor of finding something that helps you feel.

What do you do that helps you combat depression? Leave a comment or send an email. I'd love to hear from you!

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