Check your self-talk
We can sometimes say negative things to ourselves when we are upset. Unhelpful self-talk might include things like, “I’m hopeless”, “Why should I even bother?”, or “I’ll never get all this work done”. Negative self-talk can make our mood worse by reinforcing how bad we feel, and stopping us from using helpful coping strategies. Constructive self-talk, on the other hand, can help us to cope with life’s difficulties.
Notice what you say to yourself and work on more helpful, calming and encouraging self-talk, such as, “This is a rough period but it will pass”, “I will use this time to look after myself”, or “Regardless of how I am feeling, I am always a worthy person”.
Keep things in perspective
When we are upset, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are, and to start anticipating even more problems down the track. Take a step back and look at something that is upsetting you. Ask yourself:
- am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome?
- is the outcome certain to happen, possible, or quite unlikely?
- if the worst were to happen, what could I do about it?
Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, puts things into perspective.
Make a list of things that you usually enjoy. It might include activities like light exercise, reading, meditating, listening to music, or spending time with a friend. Then, write down a list of things that are important to you that would give you a sense of achievement – things that would feel good to get done. This might include household chores, errands, work tasks or study. Now, take your weekly schedule and make time each day to attend to a task from each list. It is important to set realistic goals and then work towards achieving them.
Practise relaxation or mindfulness
Practise relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness on a regular basis to allow your body and nervous system to routinely settle and readjust to a calm state. Mindfulness in particular has been shown to help people to respond to difficult emotions without feeling overwhelmed by them.
Look after your health
Exercise, diet and other health behaviours can support recovery from depression, so it is important to:
- make sure you are eating well
- get regular exercise
- avoid using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope when you are finding things difficult.