Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible. You can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you do have more control than you realise - even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there.
Whether you suffer from depression , high level of anxiety or you just don’t quite feel your usual perky self, don’t suffer in silence – there are lots of ways you can increase your positivity and well-being. Depression doesn’t just affect your patients; although we know that can be easy to forget when you’re busy taking care of them (which is pretty much always). The truth is, medical staff, carers and nurses are just as prone to depression and changes in mood and feelings as anybody else, even if (or perhaps especially because) the majority of that time is spent in the hospital or healthcare establishments.
The anxieties that these jobs can bring on are brought on by many things including:
- Feeling inadequate or incompetent as a new member of staff.
- Being reprimanded by a supervisor or manager about something you did or didn’t do.
- multiple and fast changes in shifts make it difficult to support.
- Not being able to complete all of your tasks in time.
- Dealing with a declining patient when you have multiple others to take care of.
- Dealing with difficult families that are never pleased.
- Taking care of demanding patients.
- Bullying within this profession.
- Being afraid to ask questions.
- Dealing with difficult doctors.
- Receiving report on a hard patient.
- Going to bed and dreading going to work the next day because of a negative environment
Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day.
Rule 1: Reach out and stay connected
When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate. Even reaching out to close family members and friends can be tough. Compound that with the feelings of shame and the guilt you may feel at neglecting your relationships.
But social support is absolutely essential to depression recovery. Staying connected to other people and the outside world will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.
Six tips for reaching out and staying connected:
Talk to one person about your feelings
Help someone else by volunteering
Have lunch or coffee with a friend
Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly
Go for a walk with a workout buddy
Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club
Rule 2: Do things that make you feel good
In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energise you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day. While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.
Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to boost your mood. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box. Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good:
- Spend some time in nature
- List what you like about yourself
- Read a good book
- Watch a funny movie or TV show
- Take a long, hot bath
- Take care of a few small tasks
- Play with a pet
- Talk to friends or family face-to-face
- Listen to music
- Do something spontaneous
Rule 3 : Move vigorously during the day
When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter - and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once—and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and exhausted. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it. You will be less fatigued, not more, once it’s part of your routine. Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise- such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing—where you move both your arms and legs.
Rule 4 : Eat a healthy, mood-boosting diet
What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats).
Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.
Minimise sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible.
Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
Rule 5 : Always challenge negative thinking
Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future.
When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remind yourself that this is the depression talking. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. Just telling yourself to “think positive” won’t cut it. Often, they’re part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that you default to, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:
“What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?”
“What would I tell a friend who had this thought?”
“Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?”
“How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?”
As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective.
Rule 6: know when it’s time to get professional help
If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better!
Don’t forget about these self-help tips, though. Even if you’re receiving professional help, these tips can be part of your treatment plan, speeding your recovery and preventing depression from returning.
Rule 7: know when it's time to move on
Working in a bad environment , dealing with a bad employer, living with a stressing job could be the main reason why you have depression in the first place, so getting ready to move on , a change of career , profession , or working with a more flexible and friendly employer are just the key to your happiness and improving your depression condition , leaving a job after years of work is challenging but the rewards could be huge if this leads to a better and balanced life.