Hope in the Dark: How to Hold On When You're Fighting Depression
by Dr. Craig Moorman
Depression is like a storm. It comes in without warning and can knock you down before you know what hit you. For many people, depression feels like there's no end in sight. The darkness seems to engulf everything, and it's hard to hold on to hope. The rain starts to fall with no end in sight.
No matter how bad the moment feels, it is possible to find hope in the dark. You are not alone in this fight, and there are positive steps you can take to keep fighting. Here are some ways to hold on to hope when depression feels like it's winning:
Talk to someone who understands:
When you're in the midst of depression, it can be hard to reach out for help. But it is so important to talk to someone who understands what you're going through. Sometimes just talking about what you're feeling can help to ease the burden and make the depression feel a little lighter. If you have a loved one who understands depression, ask them for helpful tips to get you through this cycle.
Focus on the present:
It's easy to get caught up in all the negative thoughts swirling around in your head. Try to focus on the present moment and what you're doing right now. This can help to anchor you and keep you from getting lost in the depression. Practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques will help you connect to your world again. Taste your favorite ice-cream in your mind or remember the smile of someone special.
Find things to look forward to:
It's important to have something to look forward to, even if it's just a small thing. Maybe you can't wait for your favorite TV show to come back or you're looking forward to trying a new recipe. Whatever it is, holding on to that bit of hope can help you get through the depression cycle.
Take care of yourself:
When you're depressed, it can be hard to take care of yourself. Despite a lack of energy, it's essential to do things to take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Exercise is an essential tool for coping with depression, but realistically it's not always possible. Do what you can. Taking care of your body will help to ease the symptoms of depression and make it easier to fight.
Listen to nature:
If possible, go to a park, sit in your yard for a while, or take a mindfulness walk. Close your eyes and engage your other senses. Take in this place with your sense of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. Let the birdsongs serenade you or the laughter of children light up your soul. Notice the colors shades of light and reflections in the water. Take in deeply. Look, listen, smell, touch, and taste. Breath this place in. Rest and reflect on the memories you just took in with your senses. Run these memories of what you just took in through you minds sense of senses again. Now feel the feeling of this special place as you bring nature into your mind and body using all your senses. Feel your mood lighten. Even just a few minutes outside can increase your internal peace. If you can't go outside, find a video or audio track featuring nature sounds.
Take one small step:
If you are facing a problem, break it down into smaller parts and take action on one small step. Taking a small step through the problem will make the problem smaller, give you more energy, and make the next step clearer.
Shift your thinking to a self-empowering belief:
If your mind is going toward a self-limiting belief, telling you that you cannot do something, shift your mind to a self-empowering belief. Tell yourself that you can do it, but that it may be a challenge. Now take on the challenge. You may have to stay up a little later, start earlier or do some heavy lifting, but you can do it! Take that first small step!
Remember that depression is not forever:
It might feel like the depression will never end, but it will. Every storm runs out of rain, eventually. You will make it through to the other side if you hold on to hope.
Depression is a formidable enemy, but you can conquer it. Think back to previous episodes and how you came out of them. You will emerge from this cycle as well.
Some periods of depression are tougher than others. If your episode is lasting for many days, talk to your doctor or reach out to a therapist. It may be time to add a medication or change the dosage of what you're already taking. Chemical imbalances can cause depression, making medication necessary to restore the right balance. And a therapist will help you find mental tools and coping strategies that help you fight off the mood and feel hopeful again.
If you're struggling with depression, may these tips help you hold on to hope. Remember that you are not alone and that there is light on the horizon. Depression is a storm, but it will eventually end. You will be stronger for having made it through.