The Counterintuitive Thing You Can Do To Overcome Depression
“What’s the #1 thing you’d like to tell your past self to help her overcome depression?”
I was recently asked this question while standing in front of a room full of my fellow coaches. I’d just finished sharing a big win that had happened for me since the beginning of the year: in 3 months I’d dug myself out of a deep depression, financial stress, and uncertainty, and gone on to land a dream coaching role and develop my highest-level group coaching program.
As you may have read in my past blog post, depression wasn’t new to me… but this time was different than before. This time I wasn’t completely and totally in the dark as I had been for 20 years. This time I knew the way out.
THE COUNTERINTUITIVE THING YOU CAN DO TO OVERCOME DEPRESSION
What I would tell my past self to help her overcome depression may surprise you because it likely seems so counterintuitive to how you’re feeling, but it is effective: Take action.
Trust me when I say, I understand how challenging that can feel when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and hope with all your might to wake up to a new, brighter, happier day.
But here’s the thing about depression: depression breeds more depression. When we give our focus and energy to our depressive thoughts and feelings, they spiral, and attract more of the same thoughts and feelings. That’s how we slip into that pit of hopelessness and despair.
The good news is that we have two major tools always at our disposal: our thoughts and our actions. What I’ve found with many of my clients, is that it’s often simpler to start with changing our actions.
NOT ALL ACTIONS ARE EQUAL
It’s important to note that when it comes to getting out of depression, not all actions are equal.
Actions that we take to avoid how we’re feeling or run from our problems, may feel good in the moment, but tend to leave us feeling worse off than before. For example, in a moment of sadness have you ever eaten an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s and been left with a stomach and an even greater ache of guilt or shame?
The key is to choose actions that are uplifting and leave you feeling better after taking them.
It’s also important to be intentional and bring awareness to how you’re feeling before and after the action you take; I like to rate my mood on a scale of 1 to 10 when I start and after I’ve finished. This awareness will empower you to see which actions help to elevate your mood. It can also build motivation to take even more action by demonstrating how even 1 small step can make a difference.
CURIOUS WHERE TO START?
Here are my top 5 favorite actions to lift my spirits when I’m feeling down:
- Put on an upbeat song and have a dance break.
- Get outside in nature, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate the natural beauty.
- Go on a gratitude rampage – list every single thing, big or small, that you’re grateful for until you can’t think of anymore.
- Take an epsom salt bath with all of your favorite candles and essential oils. (This one is especially good if you’re also feeling really stressed or anxious!)
- Jump up and down shouting “YES!” (yes, really!).
Which is your favorite? Share with us in the comments below!
Do you want even more actions you can take to uplift you PLUS my action-taking awareness framework? Get your FREE copy of my new guide, How to RISE Out of Depression: The 2 Small Steps that Make a Big Difference.