How to Create A Wellness Plan to Prevent Depression
Creating a wellness plan to prevent depression and depressive episodes is easier said than done. But having a wellness plan that can help you recognize the symptoms of depression and encourage you to use your depression coping skills can go a long way. Here's how to create a wellness plan to prevent depression.
I have adapted Barbara Stanley and Gregory K. Brown’s Suicide Safety Plan which was originally created as a suicide prevention tool.1 The plan is designed in progressive steps that encourage you to rely on your own depression self-care practices and support network. If you aren’t feeling better after those steps, the plan can help you connect to mental health professionals or a crisis center.
Outline for a Wellness Plan to Prevent Depression
- Recognize warning signs: Write down moods or situations that indicate an episode may be developing. My initial symptoms of depression are wanting to sleep longer and more often. Another big sign that my depression is looming is that I’m less interested in seeing friends, or even leaving my apartment.
- Use your own coping strategies: List things you can do on your own to avoid feeling depressed. As I’ve mentioned, running is a way of coping with depression. When I’m feeling sad or defeated, sometimes I treat myself to a manicure or a blowout. It’s superficial, but it usually lifts my spirits.
- Socialize with others: List people you can talk to or places you can go that may help take your mind off things. When I’m going through a rough time, one of the first things I do is pack my calendar with friend dates and activities that will distract me. It’s not something I would do if I needed to face a problem head-on, but as many of us know, sometimes there is no root cause of depression.
- Reach out to family and friends: List family members and friends who are supportive when you talk about depression. It’s really important to know which of your friends and family members can help when you are going through depression. These are people who you can open up to without feeling judged. It also helps if they understand a bit about depression. I’m lucky to have many friends who are social workers and all-around amazing listeners.
- Call in the experts: List names and numbers of mental health professionals and crisis hotlines. When all else fails, I make an emergency appointment with my therapist. It’s also a good idea to include numbers for crisis hotlines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or Crisis Text Line.
My version of the plan focuses on my emotions and helps me avoid sinking into a depressive episode. Once you have created your wellness plan to prevent depression, keep it in a place that is easy to access. I keep mine on my phone since my phone is practically glued to my hand.
What initial depression symptoms do you feel that you'll include in your wellness plan for depression prevention?
1 Suicide Safety Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2017.
Womble, A. (2015, July 20). How to Create A Wellness Plan to Prevent Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2015/07/having-a-plan-can-help-prevent-depression