Experiencing depression can make it hard to find the energy to look after yourself. But taking an active role in your treatment, and taking steps to help yourself cope with your experiences, can make a big difference to how you feel.
Here are some things you can try:
Get good sleep
For many of us who has experienced depression and any mental health related problems, sleeping too little or too much can be a daily problem. Getting good sleep can help to improve your mood and increase your energy levels. There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.
You may find a sleep problem can lead you to:
- have negative thoughts, feel depressed or anxious – if you have little sleep you may feel less able to rationalise worries or irrational thoughts
- feel lonely or isolated – if you feel tired you may not want to be sociable or see friends
- experience psychotic episodes – if you have a psychotic disorder or bipolar disorder, a lack of sleep may trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well, think clearly and increase your energy levels.
Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.
Improving your diet may help to:
- improve your mood
- give you more energy
- help you think more clearly.
If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady.
Slow-release energy foods include: pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
- Eating breakfast gets the day off to a good start.
- Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day.
- Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
Many people may find exercise a challenge but gentle activities like yoga, swimming or walking can be a big boost to your mood. We all know that being physically active is good for our bodies. But our physical health and mental health are closely linked – so physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing too.
Lots of us don’t get enough exercise to stay healthy, but physical activity is particularly important if you have a mental health problem. This is because people with mental health problems are more likely to:
- have a poor diet
- smoke or drink too much alcohol
- be overweight or obese (this can be a side effect of taking medication)
So if you have a mental health problem, the health benefits of becoming more physically active are even more significant.