Depression Self-Help: How To Get Back Your Routine

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I’ve decided to start a series of posts about how to deal with depression, especially regarding how to start up again when life seems to stop. I’ve dealt with depression for a number of years and have since – via trial and error (a lot of error) learned how to navigate my life while burdened with depression. I would like to share my experiences and I hope this will help someone – as long as this touches and helps one person I’ll be the happiest girl in the world.
I welcome any and all input, questions or critique so please don’t hesitate to drop me a line either as a comment here or privately via email.
I’ve found that the thing that works best to fight depression is a daily routine. Having a daily routine is very important, because it keeps you focused on something. Also, inactivity fuels depression. That’s what makes depression so difficult to deal with. It is generally a very sneaky disease. It comes unannounced and has actually been with you for a long time before you realise something is wrong. It starts with a couple of missed lunches with friends or a loss of appetite. Depression takes things from you one by one – and eventually even your motivation to do an important hobby of yours, your will to keep up with friends and family and even your self-respect will be gone. By the time you realise all this, the depression has had these aspects of your life in its possession for some time, and has warped them into something completely unrecognizable.
When you try to pick up those habits or hobbies again (when you can; if you can), they feel cumbersome and tiring – not worth doing at all. Things that used to make you happy or content either fill you with a sense of horror or – at worst – a complete emptiness.
And that is what’s so devious about depression. The depression makes you feel empty and time slows down painfully. Furthermore the things that used to make you happy, that used to fill your days with productivity and a sense of purpose, no longer have this effect. So how are you going to pick yourself up and go back to being happy again, when the depression has taken all of your tools away and left you with nothing at all?

Seven things to keep in mind when starting up a routine again

Admit the problem: The most important thing is, to admit you’re in a depressive period and that IT’S OKAY. This can actually be very hard, but try to think about your depression as an illness. You can get better with time. You can.
Let go of expectations: Stop trying to force yourself to be as productive as you think you ought to be. Stop up and let go. Be kind to yourself and let yourself be. It’s OK if the only things you do today is taking a shower or going for a walk.
Make a written plan: Don’t make it too complicated or long. Start with a weekly planner and plot down 1-3 habits you want to pick up again. And remember to focus on the most important habits first! Whenever I’m really down, my planner consist of things like ‘take a shower, ‘make the bed’ and ‘eat lunch.’
Having a direct plan will help you focus on something attainable. Often, when I’m in a depressive mood, I get overwhelmed and I forget about the basic habits and I let them slip, so a written plan helps me remember to stay motivated.
You can use a cute printable for this to cheer yourself up a bit!
Enjoy the habits fully: If possible, make the most of the time spent on your routine. Some habits will make you feel better about yourself. A shower, for example, can do wonders for the mood! Enjoy your shower and use some time on self-care. Get out of your head for a while and just feel the warmth and sound of the water, the softness of the soap and the smell of shampoo.
Pretend: Inevitably, some habits you’re picking up won’t make you feel better right away – they might even make you feel worse. But regardless of that, just do them. Go with the motions and the mind will eventually catch up.
Evaluate: Each week, think about what worked and didn’t work in that particular week. You might need to adjust your plan – put down more habits or remove some. Coming back from a depressive episode is hard and takes time – give yourself that time.
Be kind and forgive yourself: Slip-ups will happen. It’s the reality of depression. A simple routine will not get rid of depression forever – as much as we might wish it could! Forgive yourself for slip-ups and unproductive days. Treat yourself as you would treat a loved one in your situation. If you can be kind to others, then why not also be kind to yourself? You deserve kindness, and particularly from yourself.
I would love to hear any input you guys have! And good luck!

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